Man­age­ment sum­ma­ry

A report is not only an information tool, but also a control instrument. Appropriate sustainability reporting requires the topic to be strategically anchored. In addition, the Swiss insurance industry is convinced of the need to report objectives and measures transparently to the outside world – in line with the maxim: do good and talk about it. 

This second sustainability report of the insurance industry is based on a learning process. In 2020, the SIA published its first report on its social and economic responsibility (GRI 102-49, GRI 102-51). It addressed and covered the main pillars of sustainability – in particular, the areas of investment, operational ecology and risk management. This report focuses more on the role that sustainability plays in the SIA’s strategy. The publication highlights the interdependencies of the economic performance of the insurance industry and sustainability performance. Both the data made available and the scope of reporting have been expanded in this report. In order to meet the expectations of financial market players and civil society more closely, relevant sustainability or ESG aspects are now assigned a Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) indicator. 

In the past reporting year, it became apparent that the financial market – alongside the regulator – is an important driver of and one of the biggest levers for sustainability. Consideration of sustainability issues has become mainstream, as is evidenced from the fact that sustainability criteria are now incorporated into more than 83 per cent of investments managed by the sector. The percentage is even higher in some asset classes, such as real estate, fixed-income securities and alternative investments. The number of companies included in the industry report that take ESG criteria into account in their investment management increased by seven year-on-year. The report also looks for the first time at which sustainable investment approaches (exclusions, integration, best-in-class, engagement, voting, sustainable thematic and impact investment) have been used in the individual asset classes. A detailed look at the industry’s climate compatibility has also been added. The report on the results of the PACTA analysis includes the industry average of the financial investment portfolios of 24 insurance companies and also provides information on the results for the real estate and mortgage portfolios of 16 insurers. 

A multi-year comparison has been used in the area of corporate environmental management to present a large number of meaningful performance indicators on material consumption and the greenhouse gas emissions of the companies surveyed. Compared with the previous year, the industry was able to improve its ecological performance further – due partly to the COVID-19 pandemic. The carbon footprint per full-time equivalent (FTE), for example, was reduced by 62 per cent from 1,553 kg to 973 kg. The increasing number of Swiss private insurers committed to achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement is another encouraging aspect. 

Looking ahead, we can expect to see ever-mounting expectations and further voluntary and statutory requirements. Examples include initiatives such as the Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures (TCFD), which relates to climate risk reporting, and the calls to ensure better comparability for capital-based products. The SIA is committed to ensuring the most streamlined regulatory framework possible. In addition, the industry association supports the creation of incentives to encourage market participants to take responsibility for meeting sustainable business requirements themselves. 

The Sustainability Report 2020 has been supplemented to include information on the contribution of the insurance industry to sustainable pension provision and thus to intergenerational equity, on its role as an important employer in Switzerland and on cross-sector cooperation for sustainable development in a broader sense. These additions allow us to report as comprehensively as possible on the effects of key sustainability aspects at all stages of the value chain, even if the extent to which they can be measured varies.