Worries among rich clients cut revenues for Swiss Life

SWITZERLAND’S biggest life insurer said premium revenues fell by a fifth in the third quarter to SwF2.8bn (£1.9bn), as wealthy clients fearing for their privacy stayed away from investing in its funds.

Swiss Life said a healthy ten per cent growth in its Swiss corporate pensions and life business was wiped out by a 48 per cent fall in its high net worth insurance division, which offers tax-efficient insurance “wrapper” policies to wealthy individuals.

In the first nine months of 2011 Swiss Life saw a 59 per cent fall in the division, which allows clients to place stocks, private equity holdings and other bankable assets into life insurance policies to lower their tax rate.

Its French and German businesses also saw about 20 per cent falls in premium income as chief executive Bruno Pfister said it had raised the quality of the business it took on.

“We are not aiming for growth at any price,” he said. “We have succeeded in making advances in our key strategic core areas.”

Swiss Life said rich clients were put off by “the uncertainties in private banking”. Wrappers have come under scrutiny by Swiss financial markets regulator FINMA this year.