Management report

Strategy

In June 2020, the Board of Directors of Raiffeisen Switzerland adopted the “Raiffeisen 2025” strategy for 2021 to 2025. The Group strategy reflects the Group’s vision of the direction the Raiffeisen Group is aiming to take in the next five years. It also shows how Raiffeisen will position itself in the Swiss banking market in the future and how it can successfully tread this path as a Group.

Starting position

The Raiffeisen Group distinguishes itself from other banks through its cooperative model: At Raiffeisen, cooperative members are not just clients; they own their Raiffeisen bank, too. This distinction is powerful and important but needs to be augmented with other aspects to ensure sustainable success and forward- looking development. These should focus on market conditions and what clients and Raiffeisen banks need. A common strategy provides the Group with a consistent framework.

The Group strategy does not define individual banks’ strategies or Raiffeisen Switzerland’s strategy; instead, it establishes a strategic framework and sets a common direction. The strategy thus plays a significant role in strengthening the entire Group and in driving its long-term success.

Influencing factors and environment

The Swiss banking market is still undergoing a structural transformation. For decades, Swiss financial services have grown much faster than the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). This growth has lost much of its momentum in recent years. At the same time, costs have been rising steadily, largely due to additional regulatory requirements. The Swiss banking market faces a number of strategic challenges, including the persistent low interest rate environment, fiercer competition, swiftly changing client needs, rapidly advancing technology and the economic impact of Covid-19.

Challenging economic situation

The interest rate of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has been hovering around –0.75% since the start of 2015. The persistent low interest rate environment is squeezing banks’ interest margins further. The resulting pressure on retail banks’ core business underlines the need to diversify into neutral banking business. The economic situation remains strained due to volatile financial markets, global trade conflicts and the unclear medium- and long-term effects of Covid-19.

Client needs are changing

Clients are increasingly demanding simple, transparent solutions that offer a positive user experience. They are more sensitive to prices and more willing to switch providers due to greater transparency and ease of comparisons between financial services and products. Furthermore, society is expecting banks and insurance providers to do more on the sustainability front.

Competition is intensifying

The Swiss banking market is highly competitive. Competitors old and new are launching digital banks and competing with the existing business model. Competition has increased further as the major banks return their focus to the Swiss market and as insurers and pension funds enter the mortgage business. New business models (such as ecosystem models) that address specific client needs are breaking up traditional value chains.

New technologies play an important role in all business segments

The introduction of new technologies in banking has opened up new opportunities in advisory services, in settlement and in the service offering. As digitalisation becomes more advanced, banks are coming under more pressure to automate internal processes and to make them even more client-centric. The digital transformation is changing business models fundamentally and demanding cultural change from banks.

Regulatory pressure unrelenting

Regulatory changes require additional expertise and resources. Regulators are constantly tightening liquidity, compliance and capital adequacy requirements for banks. Raiffeisen is subject to additional requirements as a systemically important bank.

Raiffeisen is tackling the strategic challenges with its “Raiffeisen 2025” strategy.

Theses

In the development of its strategy, Raiffeisen formulated ten central guiding theses:

  • Banking is transforming into a cross-industry business model.
  • Agility and innovativeness will be future success factors.
  • The cooperative model and cooperative values are opportunities and key differentiators.
  • Raiffeisen succeeds thanks to employees who embody cooperative values.
  • Raiffeisen will remain strong as a Raiffeisen family.
  • Raiffeisen must stay strong in its core business to be able to invest in the future.
  • Raiffeisen’s current business model focuses on quality, not cost leadership.
  • Trust, stability, security and sustainability will be even more important to Raiffeisen’s success in the future.
  • Client proximity manifests itself in knowledge of clients and an emotional relationship with clients.
  • Raiffeisen must occupy the client interface to maintain a personal relationship with clients and offer them added value.

Vision and principles

The “Raiffeisen 2025” strategy is based on a shared vision:

Raiffeisen – the innovative cooperative bank connects people

We inspire people across Switzerland with unique solutions to connect them locally and digitally and jointly add value through our sustainably embodied cooperative values.

The vision and strategy are guided by the following principles:

  • Raiffeisen strives for a management culture focused on profit and efficiency, but not profit maximisation.
  • Raiffeisen is the bank that connects people. Raiffeisen appeals to all stakeholders with new technology, connects people based on embodied values and creates visible added value.
  • Raiffeisen generally positions itself as a smart follower in the change process. This poses much less business risk and brings along our broad client base on the change journey. Raiffeisen positions itself as a first mover on occasion, too.
  • Raiffeisen’s strength lies in the Group and the Raiffeisen family. Our cooperative model distinguishes us from the competition as an innovative community of values and added value.
  • Raiffeisen is consistently evolving from a product supplier to a solutions provider and driving cost efficiency through scale, quality, standardisation and digital transformation.
  • One thing is always true for the Raiffeisen Group: Security, stability, sustainability and high-quality growth come first.

Ambition and objectives

Guided by its vision, “The innovative cooperative bank connects people”, Raiffeisen will maintain and expand its exceptional client proximity and drive innovation more strongly than before. The Group will adhere to its local business model and continue to prioritise stability and quality over volume-driven growth. Connections between Raiffeisen banks and their cooperative members, already traditionally close, will further be strengthened.

Raiffeisen’s ambition is clearly defined: We want to leverage our strong client base to scale new offerings, attract new clients, boost efficiency, cut costs and set ourselves apart as a sustainable cooperative. To achieve this ambition, we defined six strategic approaches and translated them into around 30 different initiatives.
  • Raiffeisen consistently aligns its physical and digital services with its clients’ needs. In doing so, Raiffeisen aims to maintain and expand existing client relationships and attract new clients.
  • Raiffeisen continues to drive its evolution into a solutions provider. Banking remains its core business. However, the interlinking of banking and non-banking services will become increasingly important in the future. Raiffeisen adds value for clients with cross-industry solutions and ecosystems.
  • Raiffeisen standardises, automates and digitalises its processes. New process standards give the Raiffeisen banks more room for manoeuvre, improve collaboration within the Group and facilitate new partnerships. This allows us to spend more time helping our clients.
  • Raiffeisen sets itself apart as a sustainable cooperative by maintaining client proximity and cultivating cooperative values.
  • Raiffeisen is evolving into a highly responsible learning organisation, creating a modern work environment and honing its innovative edge through lifelong learning.
  • Raiffeisen actively employs new technologies and data, considerably improving the client experience. Mobile and multi-banking approaches and a new client portal give private and corporate clients one-click access to all relevant banking services.

The “Raiffeisen 2025” strategy serves to further expand Raiffeisen’s market position. To this end, Raiffeisen will invest another CHF 550 million over the next five years. This investment is intended to generate efficiency gains and additional income of roughly CHF 500 million a year starting in 2025, which will have a positive impact on the Raiffeisen Group’s net income.

Raiffeisen will drive its evolution from product supplier to solutions provider by continuing to develop the housing ecosystem and expanding its investing, retirement and corporate clients businesses. In future, clients will benefit even more extensively from holistic advisory services geared to their needs. Data and new technologies will significantly improve the client experience.

Programme governance

Raiffeisen Switzerland’s Board of Directors is responsible for the Group’s strategy. However, the Executive Board of Raiffeisen Switzerland and the Raiffeisen banks are deeply involved in the strategy process. The execution of “Raiffeisen 2025” takes Raiffeisen into new territory. The programme and projects will be implemented in core-issue streams instead of by department based on existing organisational structures. This guarantees that dynamic, diverse and interdisciplinary teams will drive strategy implementation. Owners’ committees are included so that Raiffeisen Switzerland and the Raiffeisen banks can exchange ideas and shape opinions (cf. section entitled “Corporate Governance”).

Strategy implementation

The Group’s strategy is being implemented in stages. It was adopted in mid-2020 and officially entered the implementation phase on 1 January 2021.

Review of 2020

Preparations began in July 2020, shortly after the strategy was adopted. To this end, the conceptual prerequisites were established to effectively and efficiently implement priorities projects and initiatives from 2021 onwards. The budget was allocated to projects that offered the greatest overall benefit to clients, the Raiffeisen banks and Raiffeisen Switzerland.

Outlook for 2021

A project portfolio of CHF 77 million was defined for the implementation in 2021. We will focus on four main topics in 2021: Client Experience, Processes and Efficiency, Investing and Retirement, and New Business Models and Ecosystems.

  • Client Experience: Raiffeisen wants to simplify digital client onboarding, offer clients a new experience portal and enable multi-banking for corporate clients.
  • Processes & Efficiency: Raiffeisen wants to simplify the implementation of regulation. It generally aims to systematically improve, simplify and optimise basic processes, particularly the mortgage process.
  • Investing & Retirement: Raiffeisen will further simplify and professionalise the investing and retirement business. As a Group, we have a social responsibility to accumulate and preserve capital sustainably. We meet this responsibility in a variety of ways, including by executing our sustainability strategy across our entire range of products and services, expanding consulting mandates and further developing “Raiffeisen 2025”, our digital asset management service.
  • New Business Models & Ecosystems: We focus on the housing ecosystem and strengthening innovation within the Group. Initial important milestones will be reached as early as 2021 as we cooperate closely with Mobiliar and launch a new platform for homeowners.