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!