The Alternative Bank Schweiz can look back on a good financial year 2015 – both financially and in terms of its social and economic impact. For the first time, it measured its sustainability performance as a bank, and was rated ‘exemplary’ in this area by the Global Alliance for Banking on Values. Profit for the financial year 2015 stood at 1.4 million francs.
Once again, 2015 was a successful business year for the Alternative Bank Schweiz (ABS) as it celebrated its 25-year anniversary. This good result was achieved despite low interest rates in the lending business and negative interest rates introduced by the Swiss National Bank. The bank’s clear social/economic focus made its performance particularly convincing with regard to sustainability: it was rated “exemplary” in this area by the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV).
The Sustainable Banking Scorecard: A New Standard for Sustainability Reporting by Banks
With the Sustainable Banking Scorecard, the Global Alliance for Banking on Values has developed a new international standard for measuring the sustainability performance of a bank. It assesses the social/ecological impact of a bank, the extent to which its business activities are oriented towards the real economy, and its financial resistance. The fact that 83 percent of the ABS’s loans were awarded to projects and companies that offer social or ecological added value was one of the factors that contributed to the bank’s good result. The results with regard to sustainability were positive in the investment business as well: 73 percent of the volume of deposits at the end of the year were invested in financial assets with a particularly positive effect on society and the environment. Martin Rohner, Chairman of the General Management of the ABS, is delighted with these results: “A financial year is only successful for us if we have helped to solve social challenges. We succeeded in doing so in 2015.” For the ABS, having a positive impact on society and the environment is just as important as business success.
Slower Growth, A Pleasing Result
The bank continued to grow in 2015, albeit slower than in the past. Its balance sheet total increased by one percent and stood at 1.590 billion francs at the end of the year. The number of customers increased by around 1,000, much less than in previous years. This is why customer deposits rose by just 6 million to 1.466 billion francs – the bank having consciously decided to limit the amount. Customer loans increased by 60 million to reach 1.069 billion francs at the end of 2015. This resulted in a net profit of 1.362 million francs. This result was possible despite the 736,000 francs of negative interest that the ABS had to pay to the Swiss National Bank and other banks. The good result also allowed the bank to considerably increase its equity. At the end of 2015, its equity ratio stood at just under 14 percent.
The ABS: Ecological, Social and Transparent for 25 Years
The Alternative Bank Schweiz AG, established in 1990, is supported by more than 5,000 shareholders. It has a balance sheet total of around 1.6 billion francs and looks after over 30,000 customers. As a socially and ecologically focussed bank, it does not seek to maximise profits, but constantly places the emphasis on its ethical principles.
It invests its customers’ assets sustainably in social and ecological projects and businesses. To illustrate what its customers’ money is used for, the bank publishes information about all its loans.
The ABS is equally as rigorous when it comes to investments and working conditions. It is committed to gender equality and functions without a bonus system. The ABS operates on this ethical basis throughout Switzerland, providing the usual services offered by an investment, savings and credit bank.