echo-interview with Urs Berger, President of the Swiss Insurance Association
elipsLife echo: Mr Berger, The Swiss Insurance Association (SVV) was founded in 1900. Can we talk of a success story stretching back almost 120 years?
Urs Berger: Yes, I believe we can. Especially when I consider the position the insurance industry is in today, one can definitely call this a success story. Each individual company needs to play its part if an industry is to flourish, but the Association has to make its contribution as well. Over the years, the SVV has succeeded in creating common positions for the insurance companies and representing their interests. In addition, the share the insurance industry has in the financial sector value chain has risen from 30% to 43% over the last 15 years. This fact, too, highlights the industry's success story.
What are the Association's main tasks?
Its work is divided into three main areas. Firstly, there's the monitoring of legislative processes and the preparation of joint policy positions on economic and social issues. This focuses on representing the interests of the insurance industry vis-a-vis legislators and the government. In its broadest sense, this is a lobbying function; we use the term "campaigning". The second part of our job has to do with the provision of services for our member companies. Examples in this connection might be real estate evaluations or cross-sectoral IT solutions. The third area is education and professional development. We organise trainings at all levels, from basic commercial courses to higher vocational training and courses for middle and senior management.
Can you give us an example of your campaigning activities?
The 2020 Old Age Provisioning Project (AV 2020) would be one example. We're representing the interests of the private insurance industry in respect to the upcoming reforms of the first and second pillars of Switzerland's pension system. Here we're not only campaigning for the country's internationally recognised 3-pillar system but also for the preservation of the insurance industry's competitiveness, in the interests of the insureds. We must continue to be able to run insurance business along economically sensible lines, so that we're able to provide the kinds of guarantees people expect. These days, numerous technical parameters are determined politically. For example, the conversion rate is actually a technical value which should be driven by logical, mathematical parameters. But today, the perception holds sway that by lowering the conversion rate, something is being taken away from the insureds. These questions are being discussed not on the basis of technical arguments but rather in an emotional context. It is up to us to ensure that this debate is founded on the facts and that proper attention is paid to the technical parameters.