CEO
State­ments

Marc Bürki, talking about the key figures of 2020, have you been

SURPRISED?

SURPRISED?

SURPRISED?

SURPRISED?

Not really, because already at the beginning of 2020, it was most likely that the COVID-dominated environment and our broad spectrum of new offerings would boost our development. And so it was.

SATISFIED?

SATISFIED?

Our clients did use our services extensively and helped us realise these results. A big thank you to them. Also our people have done a fantastic job in this strenuous COVID year. So there are plenty of reasons to be satisfied. And we will continue incessantly to improve our services to perfection.

Are you

CONFIDENT?

We are fit to face future challenges – and we are poised to seize the good opportunities. So the answer is: yes, I am confident.

AMBITIOUS?

Of course! Our main ambition for 2021 is to expand our position as Switzerland’s leading digital bank by gaining new customers and by further strengthening our profitability.

Letter to the share­holders

2020 was an exceptional year in a large number of respects. Swissquote achieved strong and fundamental growth and can for the first time report over 400,000 clients accounts. Client assets rose to a record of CHF 39.8 billion on the back of an organic net new money inflow of CHF 5.3 billion. Operating income rose by 37.6 percent compared with the previous year to CHF 317.3 million, while pre-tax profit more than doubled year-on-year to CHF 105.6 million. Profitability remained at a high level, with the pre-tax profit margin at 33.3 percent. Not only was the revised forecast for 2020 exceeded by a significant margin, but the medium-term targets for 2022 had already been met by year end. Swissquote shares performed well, with the share price climbing by 77 percent to CHF 85.90.

Revenues set new records year after year

At CHF 321.8 million (CHF 239.9 million), operating revenuesExclude the cost of negative interest rates (excluding FX swaps) (–CHF 4.7 million) and unrealised fair value adjustments (CHF 0.2 million). were at their highest level to date, having risen by 34.2 percent year-on-year. Adjusted for negative interest rates of CHF 4.7 million and fair value adjustments of CHF 0.2 million, operating incomeIncludes credit loss expense. was up by 37.6 percent on the previous year to CHF 317.3 million (CHF 230.6 million). 

Net fee and commission income rose by 74.3 percent to CHF 162.0 million (CHF 92.9 million) due to the strong growth in trading accounts and the increased trading activity on those accounts. The crypto­currency business contributed CHF 16.0 million (CHF 6.3 million) to fee and commission income.

Net eForex income climbed by 25.5 percent to CHF 107.3 million (CHF 85.5 million) thanks to positive growth in eForex volumes.

As expected, net interest incomeExcludes the cost of negative interest rates (excluding FX swaps). dropped by 35.9 percent to CHF 25.7 million (CHF 40.1 million) due to the decrease in the USD interest rate. During the year under review, Swissquote did not alter its negative interest rate policy on cash accounts denominated in EUR and CHF. The leasing programme launched with electric cars at the end of 2020 got off to a promising start.

Net trading income (currency trading excluding eForex, but including credit loss expense) rose by 25.5 percent to CHF 26.8 million (CHF 21.4 million).

“2020 was an exceptional year with record figures in terms of growth and profitability.”

Operating expenses in line with expectations

At CHF 211.7 million (CHF 180.1 million), operating expenses were 17.6 percent higher than in the previous year, due mainly to the rise in payroll and related expenses (+CHF 20.7 million). At the end of 2020, Swissquote had a workforce of 805 employees (+11.5 percent).

Net profit exceeds expectations

The combination of expenses and revenues brought a 108.8 percent increase in pre-tax profit to CHF 105.6 million (CHF 50.6 million) and resulted in a pre-tax profit margin of 33.3 percent (21.9 percent) for 2020. Net profit doubled year-on-year to CHF 91.0 million (CHF 44.7 million), exceeding expectations. This is the result of the strong organic growth and the rise in average client assets that enabled Swissquote to demonstrate its operational strengths as well as its ability to improve profitability at a high level. High-end technology and innovation are two other factors that contributed greatly to these record figures.

Solid capital base

Swissquote succeeded in combining record profitability and organic growth with a stable and solid Basel III capital ratio at 23.0 percent (21.7 percent). So, although Swissquote is growing fast, it remains one of Switzerland’s best-capitalised banks. Total equity increased by 17.4 percent to CHF 440.2 million (CHF 374.8 million).

Total number of accounts sets new record

The high net new money inflow of CHF 5.275 billion (CHF 4.558 billion, not only organic) is attributable on the one hand to the faster pace of customer acquisition and, on the other, to the greater adoption of digital services in Switzerland and the increased interest in those services.

Client assets rose by 23.4 percent in 2020 to CHF 39.8 billion (CHF 32.2 billion) due to the client growth and the 8.1 percent rise in average client assets. Per customer, this equates to an average of approximately CHF 100,000. As at the end of December 2020, clients held assets of CHF 38.7 billion (+23.8 percent) in trading accounts, CHF 251.1 million (–5.4 percent) in savings accounts, CHF 334.1 million (+44.1 percent) in Robo-Advisory accounts and CHF 439.7 million (–1.6 percent) in eForex accounts.

The total number of accounts grew by 50,636 (+14.1 percent) to a record 410,248. The breakdown of accounts is as follows: 338,330 trading accounts (+20.1 percent), 19,037 savings accounts (–3.4 percent), 4,540 Robo-Advisory accounts (+35.0 percent) and 48,341 eForex accounts (–11.7 percent).

Car leasing service launched for electric cars

In December 2020, Swissquote launched a new online leasing offering that is the first of its kind in Switzerland. Swissquote is thus expanding its lending activities and responding to the current interest rate environment. While leasing is a popular option in Switzerland for new-vehicle buyers, Swissquote is concentrating on a clear market trend towards e-mobility.

Expansion of market position in cryptocurrency trading

Swissquote continues to expand its role as a pioneer in cryptocurrency trading. Since July 2017, it has been possible for private clients to make investments using cryptocurrencies, and since summer 2020, Swissquote has also been giving institutional clients the opportunity to conduct professional crypto trading while also offering custodian bank services with a view to driving their digital asset business. The portfolio currently comprises the 12 major cryptocurrencies (from Bitcoin and Ether to Tezos). Swissquote’s efforts, which also include expanding the institutional product range, are focused on asset managers, hedge funds, private banks and family offices.

Acceleration of European strategy

Acquired in 2019, Internaxx Bank S.A. was rebranded Swissquote Bank Europe SA following the successful migration of customers to the Swissquote technology. Since then, the expansion of the product offering has positioned Swissquote as a partner of choice for European customers. At migration, online trading for new stock exchanges and new products was introduced. Since the end of February this year, Swissquote Bank Europe has also been among the first banks in the euro zone to make cryptocurrency trading available to clients.

Swissquote and PostFinance enter into joint venture

Swissquote and PostFinance are Switzerland’s leading providers of online financial services. They have been collaborating successfully on online trading for several years now and in November 2020 decided to expand this partnership: The two companies intend to establish a joint venture and launch a digital banking app before the end of the first half of 2021.

Swissquote publishes an annual sustainability report (ESG)

In addition to the financial reporting, Swissquote is for the first time publishing a sustainability report. People in a wide variety of roles and interests are responsible for Swissquote’s achievements and future performance. In the newly designed reporting, this diversity is reflected through the stakeholder approach. This meets the greatly increased need for non-financial information, to which investors in particular are giving ever greater consideration in their investment decisions. Today’s publication of the first sustainability report is a clear expression of Swissquote’s long-standing awareness of ESG considerations. This new report complies with the well-known and stringent GRI standards.

Distribution of profit to shareholders

In light of the very sound business performance and solid capital ratio, the Board of Directors will propose to the Annual General Meeting of Swissquote Group Holding Ltd on 6 May 2021 that the dividend be increased by 50 percent from CHF 1.00 to CHF 1.50 per share.

Amendments to the Articles of Incorporation

In addition to the ordinary agenda items and the vote regarding the dividend payment of CHF 1.50 per share, the Board of Directors will also put motions to the shareholders for various amendments to the Articles of Incorporation designed to improve the company’s corporate governance and strengthen shareholders’ rights. The Board of Directors will in particular propose to redefine the level of the authorised capital. The Board of Directors will propose that the authorised capital, which currently amounts to a maximum of 2 million shares (or 13.0 percent of the company’s stated share capital) and expires on 5 May 2022, be reduced to a maximum of 1.5 million shares (or 9.8 percent of the company’s stated share capital) and that the expiration date be extended to 6 May 2023. Such amendments to the Articles of Incorporation will mitigate possible dilutions of the share capital whilst still ensuring an appropriate financial flexibility.

Thanks

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Executive Management, we would like to thank our clients, who, by actively using our platform and providing a wide spectrum of informed feedback, are making a key contribution to Swissquote’s business success and therefore its long-term security, solidity and growth. We attach great importance to their suggestions and requests as well as their criticism, all of which help to drive us forward. In particular, in this exceptional year, we would like to thank our shareholders for the trust they place in us, and all employees for their personal commitment and willingness to push the boundaries time after time. And finally, we also owe a debt of gratitude to our cooperation partners for their unfailing expertise and support in helping us to grow our business.

Markus Dennler
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Marc Bürki
CEO

Highlights 2020

Mar

A record high

The 2019 earnings figure of 239.9 million Swiss francs sets a new record.

Apr

“Swissquote Magazine” reaches more than 100’000 readers

The bimonthly “Swissquote Magazine” is read by 104’000 people and is now the second-largest business magazine in Switzerland. This was confirmed by WEMF AG für Werbemedienforschung, an independent research organisation. The magazine is published in three languages and provides in-depth background information and analysis on the global economy.

May

Trading for a good cause

Swissquote’s “Trade for Good” fundraising campaign raised over 230’000 Swiss francs. The money will go to Caritas Schweiz and be used to help reduce poverty in Switzerland and 20 other countries. Through this campaign, Swissquote pledged one Swiss franc per trade to Caritas Schweiz’s corona crisis project.

Aug

396’430 accounts

Swissquote exceeded all expectations in the first half of the year. Net profit and pre-tax profit grew significantly. The total number of accounts reached 396’430, with the opening of 57’258 new accounts. Net new monies hit a record-high level of 3 billion Swiss francs.

Aug

Swissquote Bank Europe

All Swissquote Bank Europe SA customers in Luxembourg (formerly Internaxx) have been successfully migrated to the new, bespoke eTrading Platform from Swissquote. Customers have access to 23 international stock exchanges (vs 15 previously), 22 currencies and a wider range of funds and ETFs. They can also take advantage of highly competitive prices and competent support in several languages. The service offering also includes a new mobile app.

Nov

Joint venture with PostFinance

Swissquote and PostFinance announced the launch of a shared digital banking app. PostFinance boasts 2.7 million customers, 1.7 million of whom currently conduct their transactions exclusively online. With the app, Swissquote and PostFinance want to take digital banking in Switzerland forward, expanding more widely and at a faster pace.

Dec

A new Tesla with Swissquote

Swissquote finances Tesla cars. Swissquote’s entry into the leasing market makes it much easier and quicker to finance a new Tesla.

Values
delivered

Swissquote strives to deliver sustainable value to all the stakeholders. Learn what we have done in 2020.

Clients

Expectations and benefits

Unique customer experience and excellent banking services

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • New products and offerings such as cryptocurrencies, Swiss DOTS with Société Générale or online leasing offer with Tesla
  • Access to over 3 million products
  • An improved Net Promoter Score (NPS) in 2020 study enhanced
  • Satisfaction level of 5.4 out of 7.0 in the International Client Satisfaction Survey

Convenient and transparent fee structure

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • Competitive prices starting from CHF 9.–
  • Fixed-price flat fee trades
  • Zero account maintenance fee

System stability, easy and secure access

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • Client data protection with the highest level of information security available
  • Design of a state-of-the art business continuity strategy

Financial community

Expectations and benefits

Increase of share price

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • Stock market share price January–December 2020: +77.0%

Sustainable returns, attractive dividends

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • Earnings per share 2020: CHF 6.12 per share (which represents a +104% increase compared to 2019)

Transparent communication and trustworthy investor relations

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • Biannual financial results presentation
  • Investor roadshows
  • Individual 1:1 meetings with investors

Operational excellence and above-average growth rate

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • Total number of accounts base increased by 14.1%
  • Net revenues increased by 37.6% to CHF 317.3 million
  • Net profit increased by 103.8% to CHF 91.0 million

Employees

Expectations and benefits

Swissquote as attractive and trustful employer in the finance industry

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • Fair and competitive remuneration
  • Inspiring work environment
  • Exceptional work-life balance (part-time and remote working practice since many years)
  • Skill development and ongoing training and education

Respect and recognition, diversity

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • Equal opportunities to all our employees
  • Fair-On-Pay certificate (obtained in 2020, recertification intended)
  • Regardless of gender, age, culture, language or background, every employee is welcome at Swissquote. We embrace our differences and see diversity as a valuable asset.

High job satisfaction / Motivation / Employee engagement

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • Staff meetings and Q&A session with executive management on a regular basis
  • Engagement surveys and regular Pulse survey to monitor employee satisfaction and motivation
  • Enabling employees to actively connect with each other for example on the Swissquote video call platform

Society and environment

Expectations and benefits

Social responsibility and integrity; support of local communities

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • Sponsoring of local events
  • Participating in university and association committees such as EPFL, FIT (Fondation pour l’innovation technologique), PubliBike (electric bike station in Gland)
  • Giving to charitable organisations (e.g. “Trade for Good” campaign with Caritas)

Sustainabilty

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • Implementation and publication of a full sustainability report following GRI Standards (core option)

Measuring and reporting of progress in ecological impact

Values delivered by Swissquote in 2020

  • Co2 emission reduced by 7 tons (per year)
  • Paper consumption reduced (enabling clients to open accounts completely digitally)
  • Optimisation of server locations to reduce cooling needs
  • Updating of lighting system to reduce electricity use