Thomas Müller

Thomas Müller


Philippe Vidal
Chairman of the Board of Directors

We stand for the new Swiss banking approach

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

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More than a century ago, a group of entrepreneurs from Basel set up the Banque d’Alsace et de Lorraine (BAL) to adequately serve their financial requirements. Right from the outset this entrepreneurial spirit provided the foundation for our business and to this day determines how we think and act. In the service of our clients we combine the advantages of personal advice with the strengths of a multichannel bank. For this we have recourse to our very broad product universe and use the latest technologies. This is what the new Swiss banking approach is about and we are proud to be part of this movement.

Best result in our history
Based on this business model and on Swiss virtues, we once again posted an excellent performance in our 109th financial year. With our focus on entrepreneurs, companies and private individuals with complex financial needs and our ongoing commitment, we further expanded our leading position in the niche business of providing banking services to entrepreneurs.  We also increased the number of employees to 394 in 2018, which is 50% more than in 2010.

Our relationship managers are among the best-trained advisors in the industry. They are at all times supported by our experts from a diverse range of fields including corporate finance, documentary transactions, currency trading and payment transactions. These structures are complex, but they allow us to continue to grow and to offer our clients personal and practical support. The substantial increase in our discretionary mandates in the past few months shows that particularly during difficult times, clients increasingly seek serious and professional support on the financial markets.

Strengthening customer confidence
In 2018, we held client satisfaction constant at a very high level and generated sustainable growth with existing and new clients. This is underlined by the 7% increase in our gross earnings to CHF 137.6 million and the growth of more than 10% each posted for total assets and client loans respectively. This was further supported by the solidity we enjoy as a member of the Crédit Mutuel Group, one of the best capitalised banks in Europe. Being part of this Group and our positioning as a flexible bank allowed us to gain and further develop the trust of new and existing clients. In 2018 we attracted CHF 1.1 billion in new money, a peak performance for a bank that focuses its business on Switzerland. This result is all the more encouraging as the growth was achieved in an environment of political uncertainty and difficult market conditions. 

Our entrepreneurial preference for long-term relationships based on a spirit of partnership particularly proves itself in times of uncertainty. Because we are rooted in Switzerland, we understand the needs and requirements of our clients. We also take into account the unique and specific circumstances of each and every client in order to offer them authentic and value-adding solutions. In 2018 we again used the knowledge derived from our cooperation with our clients to launch new products. Clevercircles, for example, is a new investment platform allowing our clients to have access to market evaluations of professionals and make their own investment decisions. The app is very popular and client numbers reached four digits after just six months.   

We are delighted that increasing numbers of clients are putting their trust in our new Swiss banking approach. We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to our clients for their cooperation in 2018 and pledge our commitment to ensuring that 2019 is at least as successful – for our clients, our employees and our Bank CIC!

Signature Thomas Müller

Thomas Müller

Signature Philippe Vidal

Philippe Vidal
Chairman of the Board of Directors

Facts and figures

- billion

Total assets in CHF

Income structure
Change in interest income
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Net New Assets
+ 1.1 billion

In 2018, Bank CIC received new equity amounting to CHF 1.1 billion. For the third consecutive time, net inflows of new capital have exceeded the one billion mark.

Management Committee as of January 2019
Management Committee 2018

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

Success Stories
Jérôme Nicolet, JNJ automation SA

Cheese, technology and team spirit as growth drivers

Gruyère, Beaufort, Cheddar: many a cheese is cultivated and cured by machines from Romont. Since summer 2018, these are no longer supplied by two SMEs, but only by one. Sugnaux Electromécanique SA and JNJ automation SA have joined forces – thanks to the efforts of Bank CIC.

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The medieval town of Romont and its castle can be found on a hilltop in a landscape of lush meadows. Romont has been a centre of the dairy industry and cheese production for many centuries. This tradition is continued with innovation.

As in the niche market of robots for cheese curing. Until recently, this market was dominated by three companies, two of them from Romont: Sugnaux Electromécanique and JNJ automation. In the summer of 2018, the former came closer to the latter, a process that required a lot of patience.

From employees to entrepreneurs
“Michel Sugnaux, founder of Sugnaux, launched the first robot for the curing of hard cheese in 1983”, explains Joël Jaquier, Commercial Director at JNJ automation. He has known his former competitor for longer than his own company: “I worked for Sugnaux for 28 years.” During this time, he worked with Jérôme Nicolet for 17 years and with his brother Sébastien Jaquier for five years.

In 2008, a second cousin of the Jaquier brothers wanted to sell his company. The three colleagues made use of this opportunity and bought the company together. At that time it manufactured packaging machines and cheese robots. But the trio quickly decided to change their focus and to bet everything on the development of new cheese robots. With success. They started with 18 employees and now have 75. They are also planning to build a new factory to cope with rising demand.

“Our former employers, the Sugnaux brothers, were originally less than enthusiastic about our activities”, admits JNJ chairman Sébastien Jaquier. “To prevent us from making life difficult for one another, we thought about a shared future. But we soon realised that the Sugneaux family didn't want to invest in dialogue.”

A case for Bank CIC
A good thing then that a friend of Sébastien Jaquier had a positive experience with Bank CIC and told the three of them about it. Sébastien Jaquier started listening attentively when he heard that Bank CIC had people specialising in mergers and acquisitions. Maurizio Pierazzi, Head of Corporate Finance at Bank CIC in Neuchâtel, soon gained his confidence – as well as that of Sugnaux Electromécanique.

It's different when a bank calls rather than a competitor.

“It's different when a bank calls rather than a competitor”, says Jérôme Nicolet, Technical Director at JNJ automation. “After all, the bank doesn't just offer financial advice. It helped us enter into dialogue and find a solution that suited both parties.”  Maurizio Pierazzi met with representatives of Sugnaux and explained carefully that an offer for a partnership with their company has been made. “We only divulged the name of the interested party after the Sugnaux family confirmed their interest in the deal,” says Maurizio Pierazzi, who then invited both parties to the table.

The Sugnaux brothers asked for time to think about the offer. After two months they agreed to a partnership with JNJ automation. Maurizio Pierazzi coordinated the entire negotiation process, from due diligence to signing of the contract. What exactly convinced the Sugnaux family to agree? “Our relationship is shaped by mutual respect”, say Joël and Sébastien Jaquier and Jérôme Nicolet in agreement. “The Sugnaux family was convinced by our intention to strengthen the position of Romont.”

One strategy, two strong partners
All Sugnaux employees and their two bosses, Alain and Marc Sugnaux, now work for JNJ automation. According to Sébastien Jaquier, the Sugnaux brand will not disappear, but will be repositioned and strengthened. “We want to offer more services and products relating to dairy processing under this brand.”

The machines of JNJ automation are 100% made in Romont. Up to 70% of their machines are exported to France, Austria, the UK, Canada, the US and increasingly also to Russia. It therefore comes as no surprise that the new building, which was commissioned in spring 2014, is already reaching the limits of its capacity. Building work will start again soon as the factory space has to be doubled. The industry is continuing to gain ground in the dairy region around Romont.

Thomas Helbling

An emotional building project

The whole Helbling family worked together to realise their dream of an apartment building. Bank CIC laid the financial foundation – after opening its St. Gallen branch just in time.

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The eye sweeps over fields and forests from the Obersee to the peak of the Etzel: the view from the top floor of the new apartment building in Wagen, near Rapperswil-Jona, is breathtaking. The tenants already started queuing without any need for advertising even before the two apartments and the commercial premises on the ground floor were ready for occupation.

They must have noticed that this building bears witness to deep emotion, a love of detail and some family history. The building owners, Thomas and Claudia Helbling, have strong roots in this picturesque region. Thomas Helbling grew up on the farm across the road from the new building. Planning to erect an apartment building, the couple bought the land more than eight years ago. They soon found an architect and a financing solution – but then everything changed.

Put on ice
“I first had problems with prolapsed discs, followed by the wasting of a thigh muscle. A nerve had stopped working”, says Thomas Helbling. “This put an abrupt stop to the project and also affected my career.” At that time, Thomas Helbling worked as a site foreman and wanted to build his “dream house” himself. “But the only choice I had was to train further as a construction manager,” says Helbling.

In the meantime, Tim, one of this three sons, also started working in the construction industry as an apprentice bricklayer. This gave Helbling Senior the opportunity to make Helbling Junior a tempting offer: “I promised him that he could be site foreman for our building as soon as he passed his final apprenticeship exam.”

I wanted to build my dream house myself. The only choice I had was to train further as a construction manager.

First clients in St. Gallen
The Helblings were finally able to start their building project in September 2017, at the same time that Bank CIC opened its ninth branch in St. Gallen. The head of the branch was an experienced banker who the Helbling family knew well: Franz Osterwalder.

They first met far away from Wagen in 1991, on a boat in the turquoise sea off the coast of Malaysia. Together, the backpackers visited idyllic places on their way to Malacca. “We were two young and adventurous couples and got along very well from the outset”, says Franz Osterwalder.

Their friendship and confidence in one another remained and together they completed the building project with a construction loan. The Helblings were the first clients of Bank CIC in St. Gallen. 

Investment properties need flexibility
“The financing parameters are different for investment properties than for owner-occupied residential property”, explains Osterwalder. As a rule, the lending value is calculated using the gross rental method. This is done by dividing the rental income by the capitalisation rate. “Usually more own capital is needed to finance such projects”, says Osterwalder.

This meant that Bank CIC had to be flexible. This was made possible, among other things, by the fact that the Helbling family did a lot of the work themselves. Claudia Helbling was in charge of finances and interior fittings, while father and son focused on the construction work. They were joined over weekends by sons Yannick, professional footballer with FC Schaffhausen, and Noé, the youngest in the family. “The Helblings are very well acquainted with the market for building materials. This had a positive effect on the prices and quality”, says Osterwalder.

Support in all phases of life
Just like Bank CIC has become established in St. Gallen, it has become hard to imagine Wagen without the elegant apartment building. The end of the project does not mean the end of the partnership with Bank CIC, however. The construction loan has been replaced by a mortgage. And every new phase of life brings new challenges. “We want to continue planning our finances with Franz Osterwalder”, confirm the Helblings. A good thing that this can be done without detouring via South East Asia.

Corporate philosophy

We think the way you do: entrepreneurially

Our 400 or so employees have the right degree of flexibility to approach their tasks in an entrepreneurial manner. A well-structured organisation and flat hierarchies facilitate fast decisions. Our employees have the authority to take decisions and can consult with experts at any time if necessary. This enables us to offer our clients the benefits that bring them further.

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Stefan Kron, Head Product Management

«We want our clients to decide for themselves what the best offer for them is. For their Pillar 3a private retirement provision, they can choose from more than 30 retirement funds offered by six renowned providers. It is precisely this flexibility that makes us unique.»

Stefan Kron,
Head of Product Management in Basel

«The needs and expectations of our clients are diverse and very individual. With our broad range of products and services, we can react flexibly to these needs and generate added value optimally geared to our clients.»

Cécile Gauvenet,
Relationship Manager in Neuchâtel

Cécile Gauvenet, Relationship Manager, Neuchâtel
Robin Schlosser, Assistant in Zürich

«When meeting with our customers, listening is more important than talking. This way I can put myself into their shoes and provide the kind of support they need.»

Robin Schlosser,
Assistant in Zurich

June 2018

Drumbeats and trumpets

The Gruyère Tattoo took place in Bulle in Canton Fribourg from 28 June to 1 July 2018. Seven hundred Swiss and foreign musicians put on a spectacular show of folk and military music in the town centre. In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of our presence in Fribourg, we were the official partner of the Gruyère Tattoo.