2017

Foreword
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Philippe Vidal
Chairman of the Board of Directors

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Thomas Müller
CEO

We are reinventing Swiss banking

Foreword by the Chairman of the Board of Directors and the CEO

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The world is changing constantly and we are changing with it. 2017 was shaped by many developments that have influenced us – positive stock market trends alongside continued low interest rates, political uncertainties, regulatory changes and technical developments yielding innovative solutions. For such changes to be seized as an opportunity, it is important to be flexible and respond to them quickly. Opportunities and risks need to be identified, correctly assessed and responsibly utilised.

Bank CIC consistently follows these principles. We rely on our traditional values such as our client focus and entrepreneurial behaviour combined with the highest standards of expertise and the stable foundation of our Group, Crédit Mutuel-CIC, which is one of the best capitalised banking groups in Europe and with which we pursue a strategy of long-term development that is ideally supplemented by an international network of subsidiaries in over 40 countries. 

2017 was a year of records for Bank CIC. In many areas we achieved the best results of our 108-year history. The headcount grew by 20 to 367 employees and operating revenue rose by another ten percent to over CHF 128 million. At CHF 8.4 billion, total assets have tripled in the last ten years, as has the number of clients, and business volume developed very positively in 2017 with growth of CHF 1.9 billion. The same applies to profit, which went up by 28 percent.

This positive performance is based on three success factors. These consist first and foremost of our employees who with great flexibility and responsibility act in a spirit of entrepreneurship and partnership in the interests of our clients. They serve to guarantee that our clients are cared for with the highest standard of competence. We attach importance to targeted further training and education and are proud of the fact that we are one of the first banks ever with client advisors who are fully SAQ certified in accordance with the recommendations of the Swiss Bankers’ Association.

The second success factor comprises our products and services. As a flexible banking partner, we combine the expertise and client focus of our employees with an exceptional variety of products and services from a single provider. From the financing of growing current assets by means of factoring and the provision of corporate finance consulting within the scope of succession planning through to the structuring of asset management in the run-up to retirement, we find solutions that are tailor-made for our clients and do everything possible to meet their rapidly changing needs. 

The third aspect is our bank’s courage in venturing on new paths. In doing so we often deliberately tread different paths than those of our competitors. Innovation and differentiation are what set our bank apart. We hire additional employees and open new branches. In 2017 we opened our ninth branch in St. Gallen. At the same time we are investing in a targeted manner in smart online solutions that will make banking even easier for our clients in future and through which we wish to open up new client groups. 

This way we are reinventing Swiss banking: We are committed to the highest values, work competently and reliably and offer our clients individual and innovative solutions. This facilitates our sustainable and constant success. It is a win-win situation for everyone – for our clients, our employees, our bank and for Switzerland as a financial centre. 

The success of this strategy is reflected not just in the 2017 financial results but above all also in the excellent client satisfaction that is our compass for the further development of our bank. We are strategically positioned for further growth and ready to face the new challenges awaiting us in 2018. We would like to thank our clients for their trust and our employees for their commitment and look forward to doing everything we can to inspire them in 2018 too.

Signature Philippe Vidal

Philippe Vidal
Chairman of the Board of Directors

Signature Thomas Müller

Thomas Müller
CEO

Facts & figures

- billion

Total assets in CHF

Income structure
Change in interest income
Client assets
+ 14.2%

In a challenging environment, client assets increased to more than 14.2%. This encouraging result is testimony to the considerable trust that clients have in Bank CIC.

Management Committee as of January 1, 2018
Management Committee 2017

From left to right: André Justin, Christoph Bütikofer, Thomas Müller, David Fusi, Patrick Python

Flexible like entrepreneurs
Nicole Ziltener Bollinger

When the tree bears fruit over two generations

Banking and the wine trade have something in common: Both are a matter of trust. This is why Nicole Ziltener Bollinger, manager of the wine business Château André Ziltener, has been entrusting her private and professional business to her client advisor at Bank CIC for almost two decades – just like her father, the founder of the company.

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Gentle hills and orderly vineyards dominate the landscape in Burgundy, considered by many to be the heart of France. This picturesque region, which is believed to be one of the oldest and noblest wine regions in the world, was rediscovered fifty years ago by Klaus-Dieter Ziltener, who passed away three years ago. He and his wife opened a wine business in order to introduce this noble wine to more people in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

His dream is continued by his daughter Nicole Ziltener Bollinger, who now manages the wine business Château André Ziltener with 80 employees. "I love the single cultivar wines from Burgundy that give such expression to the terroir, the character of the local soil," says Nicole Ziltener Bollinger, who waxes lyrical about the elegant Pinot Noir red wines and complex Chardonnay white wines from this region.  

Stony soil in the wine business
But the wine business is not meant for enraptured bon viveurs, says Ziltener Bollinger, who studied business administration at the University of St. Gallen and pursued her further studies in oenology. This is a very hard business, and competition has increased sharply in recent years. “The large retailers boost their wine sales with enormous marketing budgets, and digitisation is changing consumer behaviour," explains Ziltener Bollinger.
Her defence against these trends: Château André Ziltener focuses on the best quality wines that it distributes exclusively – together with competent advice and support. There are no middlemen. This wine company will exhibit at 30 trade fairs this year alone.

Everything from a single provider
Nicole Ziltener Bollinger joined her parents' business full-time 16 years ago. The company first established contact with Bank CIC four years earlier. Since then, this relationship has grown across two Ziltener generations.
"I never considered changing to another bank," emphasises Nicole. "Whatever my financial concerns, I always contact my client advisor Andreas Dill, who provides me with a one-stop service. He's familiar with both my professional and personal situation, considers my individual needs and presents flexible solutions at attractive conditions." Banking and the wine business have one thing in common: They are both a matter of trust.
 

50th anniversary – and many reasons to raise a glass
Over the years, Andreas Dill not only had the opportunity to expand his knowledge of wine, but also to set up several projects with Nicole Ziltener Bollinger. "We were able to realise several greenfield real estate projects. These serve as the visible fruit of our collaboration as it were, and that makes us happy," says client advisor Andreas Dill. 

Nicole Ziltener Bollinger and Andreas Dill are also excited about the 50th anniversary of Château André Ziltener this year. The wine business will be using this occasion to thank its long-standing customers with an anniversary wine and will be inviting them to enjoy a glass of champagne at trade fairs. The anniversary celebration is scheduled for the summer with a tasting of a selection of red Grand Crus from Burgundy that illustrate the company's history over the past few decades. Chances are good, though, that Nicole Ziltener Bollinger and Bank CIC will be able to celebrate even more anniversaries.

Sandor Puskas

On course with the bank advisor as co-pilot

Everybody who has ever taken a flight has touched their labels, but hardly anyone knows the company that produces them, PrintAvia Aviation AG in Zwingen. Bank CIC has supported the company and its pilots from the outset and got them flying high today. Now is the time to head for the future.

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Discretion and security
Paris Charles de Gaulle, London Heathrow, Madrid Barajas. The list could continue indefinitely, because no matter what European airport you land at, you will encounter the products from Zwingen. "Made in Zwingen" is in demand all over the world.

Any yet very few people know the SME behind this success – PrintAvia Aviation AG. This is not regarded as a problem by owner, founder and boss Sandor Puskas. On the contrary: "We attach great importance to discretion and security. If our delivery should be delayed, all airlines would be grounded."
The printing presses and sewing machines can be found rattling in the large open factory building on the outskirts of Zwingen in the canton of Basel-Land. Forty-five employees make sure that tickets, labels and luggage tags as well as uniforms, in-flight products such as soap and first-class kits reach the airlines and ground-handling companies in good time and prime quality.

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Reto Bornhauser of Bank CIC in conversation with Sandor Puskas, founder of PrintAvia Aviation AG.

Three thousand products from Zwingen for the whole wide world
PrintAvia Aviation AG keeps around 3,000 products and 500 tonnes of raw materials in stock. Depending on customers' requirements, it also supplies another 5,000 articles. In 2017 alone, it imported around 2,500 tonnes of materials and likewise exported the same volume. To this end, PrintAvia Aviation AG has its own bonded warehouse. Today, this is the only company in the world that covers the entire value chain under one roof.
Sandor Puskas started small twenty years ago – without any knowledge of the printing industry. He originally worked in procurement for an airline company, until he was headhunted by a Swedish manufacturer to launch its labels in the market. This project, however, never really took off, and Sandor Puskas was able to see why: It is not enough to sell just one product. What is needed is a range of products. As the group's head office did not agree, he borrowed 20,000 francs, formed a limited liability company and started with his first production.

Standard solutions are not enough
Shortly thereafter he met Reto Bornhauser. "He believed in my plans, even though they were still in their infancy," remembers Sandor Puskas. From then on it was onwards and upwards, thanks also to the services offered by Bank CIC, such as current account overdrafts and investment loans, guarantees and real estate financing, not only for the business, but also on a personal level. "I'm in regular contact with my bank advisor. We take decisions in a spirit of partnership. I wish to focus on my business, while trusting that my advisor is taking care of financial matters," says Sandor Puskas. He is not satisfied with standard solutions, however.
Sandor Puskas puts his trust in Reto Bornhauser when it comes to his professional and business finances: "Bank CIC has repeatedly demonstrated that it can react very fast. Because I get everything I need from a single provider, I not only save money, but also a lot of time." As Reto Bornhauser wants to understand the business model of his clients, he spends much time learning about them, and also visits them in person.

Initial preparations for a company sale
PrintAvia Aviation AG is flying high at present. It now also has a warehouse in Miami. Furthermore, it is this year additionally purchasing two new machines and hiring up to ten more people to cope with demand. But at almost 55, Sandor Puskas is thinking ahead – about his succession, and about scaling down. "I wish to place my company in new hands in the next few years," he explains. To this end he is aiming to sell the company. This is also something he is already discussing with Reto Bornhauser and Bank CIC.

Guillermo Baeza

A sustainable succession solution

Entrepreneurs invest a lot of passion and energy in their companies. Letting go can therefore be difficult, and this can have a negative impact on their life's work. Guillermo Baeza decided to do things differently. He sold his company Durlemann SA to his friend, the entrepreneur Laurent Joël. With the help of Bank CIC, they found the best solution for everybody.

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Heating, ventilation, air conditioning
Wherever Guillermo Baeza drives in the Geneva region, he passes countless homes, factories, sports halls and ice rinks – and sometimes even two prisons – for which "his" company Durlemann SA has installed the heating and building technology. “I have memories of every building, and every memory tells the story of another challenge," says Guillermo Baeza.

Founded more than 50 years ago, Durlemann now employs around 30 people and trains six apprentices. The company is known well beyond the regional frontiers for its heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology. This can mostly be attributed to Guillermo Baeza, who joined the company in 1990 as a young partner and pushed ahead with its expansion for 26 years – since 2004 also with the support of his business partner Philippe Bonvin.

From boss to employee
To this day, Guillermo Baeza is passionate about technology. But for a good year he has no longer been responsible for the company as boss. Officially he is "only" a technician with a commercial power of attorney – and he feels very good about this. "I can focus on what I enjoy and apply my experience in doing so. I now let others do the difficult calculations for quotations." Laurent Joël is now the person in charge of the company.
How did their roles change? Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to let go of the reins. "They're worried about losing prestige," smiles Guillermo Baeza. "But I've been thinking about my retirement for as long as I can remember." Guillermo, who is now 52, already started putting his plans to find a successor into action when he was 45.

People before figures
Guillermo Baeza started talking to the banks, including Bank CIC that was already his private banker. "Most of the banks gave me the feeling that they only look at the figures, and not at the people. But I wanted a partner who was primarily interested in me." He found such a partner in Bank CIC.
"It's in our DNA to work on behalf of SMEs," says Nicolas Brunner, Head of Corporate Clients in Geneva. The specialists involved in this transaction immediately understood that for Guillermo Baeza the decision about selling the business was not just about the money. What he wanted was a sustainable and future-oriented solution for the company and for his long-standing employees. “I wanted always to be able to look my employees, contracting partners and customers in the eyes," says Guillermo Baeza.

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To let go of the reins is not easy: Guillermo Baeza has found a suitable successor in Laurent Joël.

A win-win-win solution
Fortunately, a suitable successor was actually very close. For twelve years, Guillermo Baeza had been working with Laurent Joël and his company, which specialises in ventilation and air conditioning systems. It soon became clear that the know-how of the two companies dovetailed perfectly. "And our trust in one another grew with every new project," confirm Guillermo Baeza and Laurent Joël unanimously.

This led to a solution that benefited everybody – the employees, the customers and the region: Guillermo Baeza sold all his shares to his preferred candidate Laurent Joël. Bank CIC not only advised him on this transaction, but also co-financed the acquisition by Laurent Joël.
"We were surprised by the speed with which everything required for the transaction was sorted out," say Guillermo Baeza and Joël. And it is no secret where Guillermo Baeza deposited the sales proceeds – with Bank CIC, of course.

Market review 2017
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Mario Geniale
Chief Investment Officer

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Luca Carrozzo
Deputy Head of Investments

Investments in equities have paid off

Interview with Mario Geniale, Chief Investment Officer, and Luca Carrozzo, Deputy Head of Investments of Bank CIC.

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How would you describe the 2017 investment year in just one sentence?
L.C.: 2017 was a bull year for most asset classes, and in particular for equities.

Which stocks were especially successful?
L.C.: Among Swiss equities, smaller and medium-sized companies such as ams, Von Roll and Orascom put up a particularly brilliant show. The environment was perfect for SMEs, and the strong Swiss franc seems finally to be losing momentum.

What was unique last year? 
M.G.: The historically low volatility despite major political and geopolitical uncertainties. The VIX volatility index has been published since 1990. This index measures the expected fluctuation margin on the stock markets. The average is around 20 points. Since 1990, the index has only dropped below ten points 56 times, 52 times in 2017 alone.

How did Bank CIC position its investment business in 2017?
M.G.: Our investment strategy was quite dynamic with a high equity component and a tactical underweight in bonds. In the autumn we hedged our exposure with a long put option so that we could sell equities in weaker market phases at a previously determined price. With regard to the other asset classes, we closed out our exposure to commodities in the middle of the year.

What was successful, and what was not?
M.G.: The strong stock market component definitely paid off. French equities paid off thanks to the election of Emmanuel Macron. As regards the individual stocks, the investments in Allianz, Capgemini and Nestlé were the most profitable. The long put hedge, however, expired without value. The timing for our exit from the commodities market was also not ideal. After we reduced our commodities exposure, the oil price rose again.

What was your best stock recommendation?
L.C.: For the "Trades of the Week" that we publish every week in "Weekly", these were Sulzer (+27%) and Ahold Delhaize (+15%). Our recommendations to buy Allianz (+42%) and Capgemini (+38%) were also successful.

What recommendation gave rise to the biggest internal debate?
L.C.: At the beginning of 2017, the Bank's Investment Committee decided to hedge against a possible rise in inflation by adding inflation-linked bonds to the portfolios. Not everybody on the Committee agreed that consumer prices would rise enough to justify such a hedge. There was significant controversy about the need for this investment, but the outcome was positive. These bonds aid in the broader diversification of the portfolios. Although consumer prices only rose moderately in 2017, the inflation-linked bonds remain part of our portfolios.

What other recommendations did you make?
M.G.: In the autumn we included the topic of artificial intelligence. We have identified a pronounced development in this field and believe that it has huge upside potential. Artificial intelligence is sure to remain a focal point in the coming years.
We also advised clients who are mostly invested in bonds to invest in bonds with a short maturity. This has paid off.

Where do you expect another turnaround?
L.C.: Health care securities turned in a negative performance in the past few months, but this could change in 2018. We expect a positive trend despite the difficulties plaguing the sector. This could be a good opportunity for entry into the health care sector for investors with a long investment horizon.

What potential do you see in future market developments?
L.C.: We recommend quality stocks that are much less volatile than what are known as high-beta stocks and have already proven their resistance to crisis. We expect prices to fall this year, which will increase volatility. In the longer term, we recommend Roche, Nestlé, Richemont, Dätwyler and Tecan.
We expect the economy to improve further, and believe that growth will accelerate in the US following the tax reforms. Political uncertainties will make investors nervous in the spring and autumn of 2018, but this will not have a negative impact on the markets. Should the European Central Bank end its current bond-buying programme at the end of 2018, interest rates should rise gradually and in a controlled manner.

Highlights
December 2017
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All Relationship Managers have been certified

Skilled Relationship Managers are at the heart of any successful bank. In 2017, all Relationship Managers at Bank CIC successfully completed their SAQ certification in wealth management in accordance with the international ISO 17024 standard. The Bank now meets the highest Swiss quality standards for advisory services to bank clients.

November 2017
Highlight November: KulturLegi

Swiss CultureCard of Caritas

Caritas supports people who live on the breadline. With the CultureCard, these people can participate in the social and cultural life of Switzerland. Simplified access to cultural, educational and sports events promotes the social integration of people affected or threatened by poverty in Switzerland. Bank CIC has been supporting the Swiss CultureCard initiative for three years.

October 2017
Highlight Oktober Swiss Indoors Take that Ticket

Swiss Indoors for young people

Bank CIC is supporting tennis-mad young people at the ATP World Tour 500 in the St. Jakobshalle in Basel. As sponsor of the "Take that Ticket" youth campaign launched by Swiss Indoors, the Bank is offering free day passes to the qualifying matches for young people aged between 12 and 20.

September 2017
Highlight September: Lugano

New premises in Zurich and Lugano

The continuous strong growth of Bank CIC and the increase in staff numbers have created a need for more space in Zurich and Lugano. This need has now been met with the move to newer and bigger premises. Both branches are still prime located in the city centre and offer employees a modern working environment.

September 2017
Highlight September: St. Gallen

New branch in St. Gallen

Bank CIC is expanding and opened its ninth branch on 1 September 2017 in St. Gallen. The bank for entrepreneurs is thus continuing along its growth path and is now also present in the economically active and attractive Eastern Switzerland region.

June 2017
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Talking watch for the blind

Bank CIC has been supporting visually impaired and blind people for the past three years. It works with the Swiss National Association of and for the Blind to improve these people’s quality of life. To this end, the Bank participated in the development of a talking wristwatch, the second-most important aid for the visually impaired and the blind. The Acustica wristwatch has been available for sale since June 2017.

May 2017
Highlight Mai YOUNGSTAGE

Young Stage – biggest circus festival

Bank CIC is now the presenting partner of YOUNG STAGE – International Circus Festival Basel. The largest circus festival in Switzerland presents world-class artists and enjoys international recognition. Through its engagement, Bank CIC helps young and passionate artists to achieve their dreams of peak performance and supports the entrepreneurial efforts of the festival management.

April 2017
Highlight April annual report 2016

New online annual report

Bank CIC's annual report is published online for the first time. A one-page document in four languages lists the most important facts and figures, and expands on these with editorial content such as success stories of clients, videos, a market outlook for investors and the highlights in 2016.

2017