Thomas Müller

Thomas Müller

Eric Charpentier

Éric Charpentier
Präsident des Verwaltungsrates


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150 years ago, on 28 December 1871, the Banque d'Alsace et de Lorraine (BAL) was founded by a group of businessmen from Basel and bankers from Strasbourg. It was intended to cover the needs of entrepreneurs and companies in the region which existing banks were not able, or no longer able, to meet due to war, economic uncertainty and political turmoil. To this day, nothing in this mission has changed. We continue to be a partner to entrepreneurs and their companies, seek to identify and understand our clients’ needs and provide genuine added value for our clients with expertise and individual solutions.

A terrible war and unspeakable suffering are currently unfolding in eastern Europe. We hope and pray for a rapid end to the bloodshed. These thoughts remain with us, even as we inform you about our anniversary year 2021 in this annual report.

Crédit Mutuel Group today has a CET ratio of over 19%, making it one of the best capitalised banking groups in Europe, and Bank CIC (Switzerland) Ltd. is one of the fastest growing and most profitable regional banks in Switzerland. Bank CIC is small enough to react quickly and flexibly to changes in the banking industry; it belongs to a group that is keen to develop in Switzerland and willing to invest in the future.

This combination of different elements is characteristic of what we call “new Swiss banking”. We offer a regional presence in Switzerland, the international network of our Group and personal service to our clients with the latest automated and digital solutions. In us, user-friendliness and complexity come together to create individual solutions and we join up investments with lending, settlement and reporting to satisfy regulatory requirements and offer added value for clients.

2021 was the second year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was for this reason, and the fact that we focus on our clients, that we marked our anniversary in only a modest way. Nevertheless, we can look back on another record year which witnessed rigorous, reliable and skilled work and a broad economic recovery. The set-back Switzerland suffered in 2020 was more than made up in 2021.

For the first time total assets at Bank CIC exceeded CHF 13 billion and net new money again hit CHF 2 billion in 2021. These are outstanding figures, which testify to the confidence our clients place in our bank. Profitability too rose once again. Income was up in all key areas. The securities business in particular benefited from a positive market environment, an optimised product mix and a high level of client activity. At the same time, we continued to invest in additional staff and in the digital transformation of the Bank. An indication of our activity in this area is the fact that we opened a relationship with some 80,000 new clients, who are now also able to access the attractive solutions of the Crédit Mutuel Group across the border. Operating profit increased 7.6% to 52.6 million. The considerable rise in the allocation to the reserves for general banking risks demonstrates Bank CIC’s prudent risk policy and resulted in profit climbing CHF 1.6 million to CHF 35.7 million.

We would like to thank our employees most warmly for their extraordinary commitment under the difficult circumstances of COVID-19. So far they have managed to avoid anyone becoming infected within the Bank; by doing so, they have protected themselves and our clients and made a major contribution to the best result in the Bank’s 150-year history. Hearty congratulations on this achievement!

But it was you, our clients, who made the result possible in the first place. I would therefore like to thank each and every one of you for your trust, your loyalty and your support. I assure you that we will rise to the new challenges and continue to generate added value for you – be it by minimising risks, helping you seize opportunities or offering you innovative solutions tailored to your individual situation. We are your long-term partner for all matters of finance and will remain your flexible bank once more in 2022.

Signature Thomas Müller

Thomas Müller

Signature Eric Charpentier

Éric Charpentier
Präsident des Verwaltungsrates

Facts and figures

- billion

Total assets in CHF

Income structure
Change in results from commission business
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Net New Assets
+ 2.0 billion

In 2021, Bank CIC received new equity amounting to CHF 2.0 billion.

Management Committee as of January 2022
Management Bank CIC

From left to right: David Fusi, Christoph Bütikofer, Thomas Müller, Patrick Python, Michel Berger

Market review and outlook
Mario Geniale

Mario Geniale
Head Investments

Luca Carrozzo

Luca Carrozzo
Chief Investment Officer

Market review and outlook

Marco Geniale and Luca Carrozzo summarise the key events on the financial markets in 2021 and put forward some ideas on political and economic trends in 2022.

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2021 was an exceptionally pleasing year for investments. The Swiss Market Index went up by 23.73% year on year, while US and European equities also performed extremely well, rising by 29.85% and 23.66% respectively.

This was undoubtedly a result of the ultra-expansionary monetary policies of the central banks. US monetary policy remained extremely expansionary, despite the announcement by the Federal Reserve that it would be scaling back its bond-buying programme. The infrastructure package amounting to more than USD 1,000 billion that was approved by Congress, as well as the decision not to go ahead with the planned rise in US corporate tax, likewise had a positive impact on investor sentiment.

At the regional level, industrialised countries performed better than developing countries owing to the strong US dollar and the slight rise in long-term interest rates.

At the start of 2022, markets were rattled by the war in Ukraine. The main factor unsettling the financial markets was the rise in oil and commodity prices. The European equity markets lost between 15% and 17% between the beginning of the year and the end of March 2022. The United States – which is not directly affected by the war – has fared better, with the S&P 500 losing 12% since the start of January (as at 5 April 2022). The Swiss SMI also went down by less than the other European equity markets and its fluctuations were significantly lower. This can be attributed to the overweighting of defensive sectors in the index, such as healthcare and food manufacturing.

The focus this year will therefore be on issues such as rising consumer prices and the war in Ukraine. We believe that a large number of companies will abandon their presence in Russia in the light of the continuing war and persistently high commodity prices. Central banks will take the high prices and economic uncertainty into account in their strategy and raise interest rates more slowly than anticipated by the market. This may ease the cooling in investor sentiment and in turn slow the weakening of the economy. As trade with Russia is low, globally speaking, we think further-reaching risks in production and consumption are unlikely and that switching procurement to other markets may lead to strong short-term disruptions in industrial production in particular. We favour high-quality large caps with a strong international focus.

In the short term, the various uncertainties (war, central bank policy, economic performance, geopolitics) will lead to increased volatility. Defensive Swiss equities have proved to be a stabilising factor for the portfolio.

In the medium term, however, we do not believe that consumer prices in Switzerland will rise any further and we expect the geopolitical tensions to ease in the coming months. Investors will then concentrate on companies’ fundamentals again. Owing to the high weighting of defensive stocks in Switzerland, analysts nevertheless expect corporate profits to increase by just under 10% in 2022. For 2022, we expect the Swiss equity market to go up by between 5% and 8%, which is in line with the predicted increase in corporate profits.

In asset management, we are sticking to our long-term outlook and broad diversification across asset classes. Past experience has shown that setbacks triggered by geopolitical stress events are generally of limited duration when portfolios are well diversified. Selecting high-quality Swiss companies provides a degree of protection, even in times of crisis. We remain committed to individual stocks with strong fundamentals and have protected the portfolios selectively with hedging instruments.

We favour the following stocks and topics this year. Among defensives, we like Novartis, Zurich Insurance and Galenica. In cyclicals, we favour ABB, Holcim and Logitech, while AMS, Basilea and SoftwareOne are the small and mid-cap stocks we are backing.

With themes, we are very excited by developments in the food sector. In line with this, we would support the technologies of the future in this area. Food produced worldwide amounts to around 10% of global GDP. To produce this 10%, our food sector causes 26% of global emissions, employs one-third of all workers and uses half of the habitable land on the planet. This must and will change, providing corresponding investment opportunities.

Another topic that has gained impetus as a result of the most recent crisis is cyber security. We expect M&A activities in this area to increase. This and the rising security budget around the world will probably be the most important sources of growth for this theme. In addition, cyber security will be a key topic for governments and private companies. The sector has experienced a sharp upturn in recent years, and we expect this trend to continue.

Digital Innovations
Digital Innovations

Digital innovations for the future

For Bank CIC, making use of technological progress forms a part of traditional banking.

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Our digital products and our CIC eLounge service channel seek to cover clients’ basic needs today and bring the Bank closer to them.

Our hybrid advisory model meets individual client requirements and allows us to make clients’ lives better with innovative solutions and functionalities.

CIC eLounge – the source for product innovations

In CIC eLounge, Bank CIC has a state-of-the-art digital all-in-one solution for carrying out banking transactions. This award-winning digital service channel offers extras that go beyond standard e-banking. eLounge acts as a digital archive for all documents and agreements, gives access to relationship managers and is bursting with exciting functionalities: it makes it possible to manage your own access authorisations, offers multibanking with payment transactions (one log-in for all banking relationships), provides a view of investment assets and portfolio performance and supplies valuable market assessments for investment decisions.

But CIC eLounge can also do much more. It forms the foundation for numerous other innovative ideas and sources of added value. Developed with great intelligence and to the latest standards, it has cutting-edge interfaces which allow new products and connections to external platforms, combined with the highest security standards. So both today and in future we can cope with changes in consumer behaviour and meet our clients’ needs.

Using technological progress

Digitalisation continues to move apace. Our IT specialists are constantly monitoring the latest progress and digital structural changes, and working with our partners to develop modern applications. These don’t just involve automation, process optimisation or adapting new technologies. We attempt to be one step ahead for our clients and integrate genuine innovations that are in tune with the times and position us as a progressive bank.

Our IT specialists are constantly monitoring the latest progress and digital structural changes, and working with our partners to develop modern applications.

Since summer 2021, anyone wishing to become a client of Bank CIC can open a banking relationship entirely digitally. This takes less than 10 minutes and can be done any time, anywhere. When new clients then log in to CIC eLounge the full offering is open to them, and they are easily guided into the new dimension of banking.

Bank CIC has also gone digital in retirement provision. Retirement funds can be traded directly in eLounge. A digital savings assistant determines the type of investor a client is and makes the right pre-selection. The client can choose from a universe of over 30 retirement funds from six different providers such as insurance companies, major banks and cantonal banks all the way to solutions from private banks.

Digital eco-systems as information platforms

In August 2021 we entered into a strategic partnership with Property Captain. This cooperation offers an opportunity to help shape the change under way in the real estate and mortgage market. We are looking to continue developing into a financial services provider that not only offers basic products but is also able to cover the whole value chain via digital, platform-based eco-systems. Property Captain is an online platform that drives innovation, using artificial intelligence to cover all phases of the real estate market and providing an independent partner network with fresh perspectives on buying property. Whether it’s market information or new ways to purchase like rent-to-buy, Bank CIC develops innovative solutions for its clients and takes complex tasks off their shoulders.


Digital investment products

Benefits to the client are also what we focus on when it comes to investing. cleverinvest was launched at the end of 2021 and is revolutionising asset management. This is a digital solution that makes it simple and straightforward to build up assets. Opening the product takes 10 minutes. Just determine your risk appetite and capacity with a few simple questions and allocate the equity weighting within the investment strategy suggested to the most promising themes. For instance, you can invest in specific topics like Social Responsibility, Smart Cities and Millennials. The focus issues can be changed or adjusted using a handy drag and drop function. Investors no longer have anything to worry about, because their strategy is rigorously implemented by Bank CIC. At the same time they remain flexible and can access the money invested at any time. This makes cleverinvest an attractive alternative to a savings account. Investors can profit from above-average returns over the medium and longer term with an initial investment of CHF 1,000 and a standing order of at least CHF 50 per month.

Anyone who prefers to have an active dialogue with their community and take their own investment decisions based on recommendations should consider clevercircles. This is a digital investment platform where investors can assemble their own portfolio of ETFs and index funds, manage it professionally with an investment committee they put together themselves and benefit from access to market assessments from Bank CIC and a host of third parties.

We attempt to be one step ahead for our clients.

Digitalising and democratising the investment business, i.e. providing all clients with access to attractive investment solutions, is a key priority for Bank CIC. The Bank is investing steadily in this strategy for development.

Comprehensive digitalisation strategy

All digital offerings are available to all clients at any time and anywhere, both as an app and in the desktop variant. Unlike poorly regulated neo-banks, our digital achievements have stable roots in a “real” bank with many years of experience and the expertise needed to handle financial and client data. And the human factor always plays a key part, too. Digital systems cannot replace people. But they can save a great deal of work and time, minimise risks and errors and maximise quality and success.

Our holistic digitalisation strategy and precise management of interfaces mean Bank CIC is ideally placed for further technological developments. Our employees, however, remain crucial – they are the most important factor in our success. Together with our clients, we are keen to create sources of added value in partnership from the current position and the developments to come, by reacting rapidly and driving ahead the momentum of innovation.


Success stories
example: hotel ship

When courage pays off

It takes guts and a lot of hard work to bring a new online shop to market, open a boutique ship on Lake Murten or succeed in the real estate business when times are tough – as they have been during this unprecedented pandemic.

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Our customers have stuck to their objectives. They talk about the entrepreneurial ideas behind their bold actions and speak of their partnership with Bank CIC.

A floating boutique hotel

Once upon a time it was a North Sea freighter. Today the MS Attila is a hotel ship sailing the waters of the Three Lakes Country between Bern, Fribourg, Neuchâtel and Vaud. What did it take? The idea, a business plan, committed entrepreneurs, persistence and a strong partner in financial matters.

Beat Kläy is satisfied with MS Attila’s first summer season: the new floating hotel was steadily booked out and the feedback from the guests on board was very positive. Things like that don’t happen automatically. The manager of Reederei Vully AG, the owner of MS Attila, can look back on an eventful year in 2021. The floating boutique hotel should actually have been welcoming its first guests last spring. But owing to the coronavirus pandemic and the floods on the three lakes in the Jura in July, the MS Attila did not start operations until August. The conversion of the former freighter had already been delayed before that because components could not be delivered for months. “We didn’t let ourselves get distracted,” says Beat Kläy. “We still believed in what we wanted to do, despite all the obstacles.”

We still believed in what we wanted to do, despite all the obstacles.

What Beat Kläy and the people behind the project, Richard Hurni and Hans Hofstetter, wanted to do went beyond just promising cruises on Lake Murten, Lake Neuchâtel and Lake Biel/Bienne. Reederei Vully AG wanted to use MS Attila to promote sustainable tourism in the entire region. They work with local producers and take guests to restaurants and leisure activities around the lakes. Beat Kläy emphasises: “On our voyages we integrate a great deal of what is already there in the region, so our travelling is as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible.”

What guests enjoy today was what Bank CIC found convincing right from the start. It was one of the project’s first supporters, as a lender and financial advisor. Now the Bank has the pleasure of using MS Attila for its own events. There was no guarantee that the cooperation would come off. As Beat Kläy explains, looking for financing just as the pandemic was getting under way proved difficult.

Help that was short-term and flexible

Shortly before the first lockdown in March 2020, everything seemed set: the business plan had been drawn up and the entrepreneurs were in touch with various financial institutions. But the lockdown caused many banks to stop taking on new clients. “It was tough,” admits Beat Kläy, “so we were all the more fortunate that Bank CIC proved to be a reliable partner and showed flexibility and supported us.” Later on too, when the delays mentioned earlier were pushing up the total costs, the Bank was always open to discussions and showed skill and dedication in securing the financing, he adds. “We feel very well served and are keen to continue generating added value together by working with Bank CIC in future.”

Beat Kläy
Beat Kläy, Managing Director Reederei Vully AG, Murten

What does the future hold for the floating hotel? The aim of the MS Attila crew for the second year of operations is continuity. They want to make the whole season a success and are sticking to the existing offering of longer cruises and short weekend outings. At present, all guests come from Switzerland, but in the medium term the aim is to attract foreign visitors as well. “We also have other ideas about how to raise the profile of our beautiful region,” hints Beat Kläy. At this stage, though, he’s not prepared to reveal them. But with some exciting drive, genuine entrepreneurial spirit and a good financial partner, we will continue to find individual solutions.


More individual and more extensive, thanks to digitalisation

Lots of suppliers, plenty of costs and margins that are often under pressure: promotional gifts is a tough business to be in. Even so Alex de Geus, the founder of maxxpromo.ch, has spent half his life selling them. He is well aware of the opportunities digitalisation offers him and his company.

Shift from analogue to digital: it’s an idea entrepreneur Alex de Geus had been toying with for some time. A few years ago the time was finally right and the project got under way. Technical progress meant there were no longer any barriers to having a smart online store for promotional gifts. A European partner to do the programming was quickly found.

The launch of max x promo coincided with the global emergence of the pandemic. But the max x promo team were not distracted by the coronavirus and stuck to their plans: “If an online store isn’t successful now, when will it ever be?” Obstinacy and courage paid off: under the slogan “Inspiring. Simple. Quick.”, customers can browse in the store and let their imagination run wild. Finding out about prices, branding opportunities and delivery times is easy. Orders are placed online and go straight to maxxpromo.ch. This ensures speedy processing and delivery. The search function allows customers to find the article they are looking for in seconds. The searches carried out, orders and product information from suppliers indicate what is popular at any one time. The platform also gives the entrepreneur information on trends and requests for sustainability and generates hitlists. This allows Alex de Geus to target his range and focus on customer needs.

Alex de Geus
Alex de Geus, entrepreneur and founder of maxxpromo.ch, Basel

max x promo boasts of its user-friendliness and speed – two arguments where it beats traditional outlets. From choosing to viewing to the order process, everything runs directly through the online store. Customers can communicate in other ways if they need to: a telephone hotline, email advice and live chat are also available. The hybrid model has proven its worth. This dedicated entrepreneur from Basel would not like to be entirely without direct customer contact, as he explains:

It’s just like eLounge from Bank CIC: I let the customer chose the communication channel that suits them.

The benefits of the digital solution are obvious: orders can be placed any time, anywhere. This saves valuable time and minimises the administrative effort on both sides. All orders are managed in a dashboard, allowing the customer to see their entire history at any time. This is particularly useful for customers when they have a change of staff. The extended platform max x insight allows max x promo to offer a further innovative solution to large customers who need additional services. Shop-in-shop service, product design, on-demand products, procurement outsourcing and promotional gift management are all possible on the digital platform.

Behind max x promo and max x insights are a great deal of hard work and an entrepreneur who had the courage to open a new business at a time that was economically challenging – and put his heart and soul into it.


150 years of Bank CIC – a story of courage, stability and values

The origins of Bank CIC go back 150 years to when a group of businessmen started a bank for entrepreneurs. From that day on, our focus has always been on the needs of our customers. We have never real taken the time to look back at what we have achieved with strong values and thanks to the trust of our customers.

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To mark the anniversary in 2021, Bank CIC traces the history of this Basel banking house in its book “150 Years of Bank CIC”. The book recounts the path taken over the past 150 years: from BAL to Bank CIAL to Bank CIC. This history is placed in the context of world events, describing amongst other things how the Swiss franc came into being in what are now the Bank’s premises at Marktplatz 11 in Basel. The book also looks ahead to the future: in his essay “Bank to the Future”, futurologist Dr Stephan Sigrist sets out his vision for the financial sector and the financial needs of society as it is now and as it will be.

The book “150 Years of Bank CIC” is available free of charge from our media office at medien@cic.ch.