2.1 Responsible business conduct towards clients

Relevance of the topic to SZKB and goals

SZKB attaches great importance to client satisfaction, which plays a crucial role in the economic success of the bank. A high level of client satisfaction also enhances the company’s reputation and sets it apart from the competition. Satisfied clients recommend SZKB to others and thus help attract new clients. On the other hand, dissatisfied clients are likely to switch banks. For this reason, «client satisfaction» is a key issue.

The goals, wishes and needs of the clients are the starting point for long-term and holistic advice and support provided by SZKB. SZKB’s structured advisory process takes the overall family, professional and general life situation into consideration. SZKB provides a wide range of attractive products and services. As part of its comprehensive advisory services, SZKB offers its clients high-quality solutions that are tailored to their individual needs.

SZKB’s primary area of activity is the Canton of Schwyz, a predominantly rural area with 30 political municipalities. SZKB operates branches and cashpoints deliberately in these areas to ensure the basic provision of financial services there, in line with its slogan of «Seit Generationen. Für Generationen. Gemeinsam hier vor Ort». In addition, SZKB also offers its clients financial services via digital sales channels.

SZKB has established the following goals for ethical business conduct in regard to its clients:

  • In the client satisfaction survey conducted every two years, 95% of clients express satisfaction or high satisfaction with SZKB.
  • In the client satisfaction survey conducted every two years, from 2030 onwards at least 70% of clients will say that they perceive SZKB as a sustainable or very sustainable bank.
  • By 2030, all branches will be accessible to clients with reduced mobility.

Protecting client data, maintaining bank client confidentiality and ensuring data security are top priorities for SZKB. Depending on its scope and nature, any data breach, data theft or cyber attack could potentially lead to violations of personal rights, financial loss, legal repercussions, business disruption and/or loss of reputation. On the other hand, good data protection creates trust in SZKB. This is why «data protection/client data/privacy» is a key topic.

SZKB has set for itself the following goal for the future in the key topic area of «data protection/client data/privacy»: All SZKB full-time and part-time employees, as well as all authorised representatives with access to SZKB’s IT systems, are required to complete annual online training courses on data and information security to ensure the security of client data.

Management approach

SZKB regularly measures client satisfaction and the outside world’s perception of the Bank. Furthermore, SZKB performs periodic client surveys on specific topics, such as with clients who have used a particular service. These surveys yield valuable insights for the ongoing improvement of our products and services. SZKB also periodically participates in surveys conducted by the Association of Swiss Cantonal Banks (VSKB) in regard to client satisfaction and the image of the Bank.

SZKB uses a systematic advisory process that takes into account each client’s unique life situation and identifies tailored solutions to meet their needs. To further enhance systematisation, client advisors are continuously empowered and supported by their superiors.

SZKB holds its products and services to high standards, which is why they are regularly reviewed and assessed by the responsible specialist department. Departments with direct client contact are involved in such reviews and assessments in order to ensure that the products and services are improved on an ongoing basis and with the needs of the clients in mind. When products are being developed, clients are involved in the process so that direct feedback on the planned developments can be obtained. Client reactions and client surveys are also used to determine input on client satisfaction and potential for improvement. The head of the specialist department brings the results of such reviews to the Sales Commission. This body is responsible for approving products and services and is made up of representatives from the Executive Board, Segment/Sales Management, Marketing & Communication and Product Management. The Sales Commission analyses the submitted product innovations, extensions or enhancements and makes a decision regarding their implementation after a broad discussion. Through the work in the Sales Commission, oversight of product launch and review lies within the responsibilities of the Executive Board.

The «Introduction of new products or entry into new business areas» directive outlines the process for product innovations and reviews. Among other things, this process ensures the involvement of 1st and 2nd line functions.

SZKB knows its clients. 99.4% of SZKB’s clients reside in Switzerland, with 80.0% of them in the Canton of Schwyz. Only 0.6% of SZKB clients reside abroad and are passively served by SZKB. SZKB does not engage in active market cultivation outside Switzerland. The Bank complies with the relevant regulatory requirements (namely the provisions on automatic exchange of information, the Qualified Intermediary Agreement and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) and implements them appropriately and adequately.

Key measures:

  • Client satisfaction survey
  • Responsible advisory services
  • Information about products and services
  • Complaint management
  • Training/course offerings for clients
  • Access to SZKB services

The Head of Finance and Risk Management, who is a member of the Executive Board, has ultimate responsibility for the creation, implementation and compliance with the measures to ensure data protection and data security.

The Compliance/Legal Services department is responsible for implementing data protection legislation. The Data Protection Advisor (Data Protection Officer until 31 August 2023) oversees the processing of personal data, provides recommendations for any necessary corrective actions and is responsible for regulatory reporting.

Finally, the Security Commission (SI-KOM) is established by the Executive Board and led by the Head of Finance and Risk Management. It includes members from the Security, Risk Management, Compliance and IT departments, and is responsible for overseeing security issues such as information protection, physical security and data protection at SZKB. Starting in 2024, the Operational Risk Commission (ORK) will supersede the SI-KOM. The ORK is a commission established by the Executive Board to manage operational risks in accordance with the risk catalogue. It ensures effective management of operational risks within the company and also serves as a liaison body between the risk management units (first line) and the independent control bodies (second line).

SZKB operates an information security management system (ISMS) based on ISO 27001. SZKB also conducts internal and external audits on a regular basis to ensure high standards with regard to data security.

As part of the security system, vulnerabilities are evaluated in regard to risk, anomalies are analysed, and appropriate actions are defined. If necessary, SZKB brings in specialised external IT firms to assess the systems for potential vulnerabilities.

SZKB applies the principles of «security by default» and «security by design» to its IT projects.

Key measures

  • Protection of personal and sensitive information
  • Employee awareness and training

Client satisfaction survey

The 2023 client satisfaction survey was conducted online by an external institute. The sample is comparable with the client structure of SZKB. 96% of all clients surveyed are satisfied or very satisfied with SZKB. It is gratifying that this high figure was achieved among both male and female clients. If we focus exclusively on the main bank clients, 97% say they are satisfied to very satisfied. 98% of main bank clients are inclined to recommend SZKB to others. In 2023, 53% of the surveyed clients viewed SZKB as a sustainable bank. However, a significant portion (36%) of respondents did not answer this question.

Responsible advisory services

SZKB places a high priority on providing clients with long-term, holistic advice. For this reason, SZKB is making a deliberate effort to invest in the continued enhancement of its advisory services. After an assessment of the current advisory service, action areas for targeted optimisation of the advisory experience were identified. During the 2023 reporting period, SZKB redefined its value proposition for advisory services and specified it in detail in regard to the advisory process in twelve advisory standards. Starting in 2024, sales staff will be trained in the optimised advisory approach and will consolidate what they have learned in training sessions as well as in the context of meetings with supervisors or peers. Furthermore, new tools were developed to aid in the preparation of dialogues and the recording of client situations.

Information about products and services

SZKB attaches great importance to transparency and uses physical and digital channels to provide its clients with comprehensive and targeted information. In addition to information on the product level, client-specific data is also made available in reports. When new products or product extensions are involved, the sales staff are informed of the changes and trained if necessary so that the quality of advice provided to clients can be maintained. All SZKB client advisors also complete a personal certification in accordance with the requirements of the Swiss Association for Quality (SAQ). This certification confirms that they have the necessary knowledge to advise clients well (see Chapter «2.2.2 ‘Diversity and integration’, Section Training and education»).

Complaints management

Client service is an important factor in the key topic of «client satisfaction». If clients are dissatisfied, their complaints are received, recorded and handled by a client advisor or the central information hotline (Client Centre). Depending on the nature of the complaint, the appropriate department will be consulted. A corresponding work instruction provides the details regarding how client complaints due to lack of satisfaction with SZKB or non-compliance with standards by SZKB are handled. Because SZKB sees client complaints as an impetus for making improvements, the responsible specialist unit analyses complaints received on a quarterly basis, with any conspicuous features (clustering or concentrations of complaints) being passed on to the relevant specialist departments to be dealt with. Starting in 2024, complaints will be reported as part of operational risk reporting.

In 2023, there was a 15% increase in the number of complaints registered compared to the previous year. Approximately 35% of all documented complaints are related to fees and specifically concern the amount of correctly charged fees.

Training/course offerings for clients

To enhance client familiarity with banking topics and increase client satisfaction, SZKB offers information platforms that include ones taking the form of client events. Clients are taught how to safely use digital banking services and are assisted with important topics in this way. (See also Chapter «2.3.3 ‘Fostering the local community and economy’, Section Financial literacy».)

Access to SZKB services

Branch and cashpoint network

Local access to SZKB’s financial services is an important factor for client satisfaction.

As of 2023, SZKB has 22 branches (including the head office) and 53 (previous year: 52) of its own cashpoints. SZKB is the bank with the highest presence and accessibility in its home market of the Canton of Schwyz. SZKB is also one of 24 members of the Association of Swiss Cantonal Banks (VSKB). The Swiss Cantonal banks have more than 2,000 cashpoints throughout Switzerland, all of which are accessible free of charge to SZKB clients who have an appropriate debit card. All SZKB cashpoints are barrier-free and can therefore be used by people with disabilities without difficulty or the need for assistance.

All SZKB branches and their range of services are already barrier-free for clients. Building entrances on uneven levels such as in outdoor areas can be made accessible using ramps. Client safe-deposit boxes in the basement can be accessed by lift.

Digital sales channels

In addition to local access to financial services, digital sales channels are also crucial for ensuring client satisfaction.

SZKB offers its clients a modern online and mobile banking solution. On this basis, clients can conduct their banking transactions (including payment transactions and securities trading) from home and on the go. The e- and mobile banking solution offers SZKB clients complete transparency about their financial situation at all times. Since 2022 SZKB has also been offering its clients a solution with which payments can be made via smartphone using the Bank’s own TWINT app.

SZKB also offers access to a wide range of additional, innovative solutions for private and corporate clients, such as offline and cloud-based software for integrating payments into accounting systems such as Swiss21, Klara and Bexio.

Website szkb.ch

The SZKB website is constantly being expanded and adapted to meet client needs. The SZKB website is barrier-free, making it accessible to people with visual, hearing and mobility impairments.

Protection of personal and sensitive information

SZKB treats both the personal information entrusted to it by its clients and all other personal information confidentially and according to the applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. Detailed provisions on data protection are contained in the Bank’s internal «Data Protection» directive, which was issued by the Executive Board. All employees can access it on the intranet, and it is mandatory for them to adhere to it.

Data will only be collected, disclosed or forwarded to third parties if required by law, necessary for fulfilling a contract or with the consent of the individuals involved.

In the event that personal information is disclosed to a third party on the basis of a contractual obligation, the contractual partner shall also be obliged to comply with the provisions of data protection law as they would apply to SZKB. If this third party in turn commissions other third parties, this shall also apply to these subcontractors.

The Data Protection Advisor keeps a detailed inventory of the data collections in a dedicated tool that is updated at least once a year. The owner of a newly opened data collection must report it to the Data Protection Adviser if it has been in existence for more than six months. A new data record also exists if data is extracted from an existing data record and the resulting data record serves an independent purpose.

Any person may request information from the controller of a data record as to whether data relating to them is being processed. All persons have the right to inspect any information about them that is being processed. Likewise, any person about whom information is processed may request rectification and/or deletion of their individual data items in accordance with the law. These personal rights of the data subjects apply to all business areas of SZKB and are described in the «Privacy Policy» on the szkb.ch website.

Personal and other sensitive information is protected by a security system. All non-public SZKB premises are protected by personal access controls. The Bank’s internal IT systems can only be accessed with the individual identifier of each employee and in conjunction with a personal password. This means that only SZKB employees or authorised representatives can access data, and each instance of access to data can be associated with a specific person. The SKZB security system is implemented according to the applicable regulations while taking the «need-to-know» principle into account.

Appropriate technical and organisational measures are used to protect information against unauthorised processing. SZKB has implemented proactive measures to reduce the risk of data leaks and ensure the integrity of data storage and confidentiality to the greatest extent possible. To respond to such incidents, SZKB has an emergency plan in place in order to ensure an appropriate reaction to any data breaches, including necessary communication with affected individuals.

SZKB backs up data regularly and tests the restore process at least annually.

Employee awareness and training

In 2023, all full-time and part-time employees with access to SZKB’s IT systems were required to complete the following online training courses:

  • Data protection
  • Working from home
  • Protection against social engineering
  • Building access and dealing with visitors
  • First aid, fire and evacuation.

SZKB regularly carries out measures for raising employee awareness using methods such as simulated phishing or smishing attacks.

Assessment of effectiveness

In 2023, SZKB achieved a 96% satisfaction rate among its clients, an increase from the 2021 survey. SZKB will persist in confronting daily challenges in the times ahead in order to maintain or further improve this result.

In terms of its perception as a sustainable bank, SZKB has significant potential for improvement. To this end, the advisory services are being expanded to include specific sustainability elements (investment preferences and energy-related financing).

SZKB believes that the actions taken to ensure «client satisfaction" have been effective.

The completely revised Swiss Data Protection Act went into effect on 1 September 2023. As a measure to roll out compliance with the fully revised Data Protection Act, in 2023 all employees with access to SZKB’s IT systems were given detailed training on data protection and security, and the internal directive on data protection was updated and expanded.

In 2023 (as in the previous year), clients, external parties and the supervisory authorities did not file any complaints regarding breaches of client data protection, and there was also no theft of client data.

In general, SZKB believes that its measures to protect client data are suitable for mitigating negative impacts related to the key topic of «data protection/client data/privacy».

Further development and next steps

In order to take account of changing client needs, SZKB is constantly investing in the expansion and optimisation of its advisory process and the associated tools. To this end, SZKB has launched a strategic project under the name of «Advisory Philosophy 2023+» to enhance the advisory experience and improve client satisfaction in the years ahead.

In accordance with its slogan «Seit Generationen. Für Generationen. Gemeinsam hier vor Ort.», SZKB attaches great importance to demonstrating client focus in a manner that is tangible. This is reflected in ongoing further development of the branches as well as the SZKB digital channels. For example, a completely revised mobile banking app is set to be released in 2024, with a new version of the web banking platform also in the works.

To ensure the confidentiality of personal data, data security and data protection in the future, SZKB will continuously update and enhance measures to prevent data breaches and maintain information and data security in line with the latest developments.

In the coming years, SZKB will also address the question of how compliance with the personal and information rights arising from data protection can be ensured in the event of any future use of artificial intelligence for the automated processing of data (profiling).