Despite the war in Ukraine, SERV closed its 16th financial year with a positive net income of CHF 46.7 million.
The essential accounting requirements for SERV are formulated in the SERV Act (SERVG) and in the SERV Ordinance (SERV-V). SERV must keep its own accounts, be economically viable as an insurance company and manage risks for public and private debtors separately. To meet these requirements, SERV prepares financial statements on the closing date (cf. PDF Financial Statements, p. 48), consisting of the income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, proof of economic viability, segment accounting and notes.
Individual items of the income statement, the balance sheet and segment accounting are explained in more detail in the Notes. Items shown net in the financial statements are broken down in the Notes, which renders the calculation of net results transparent. This is significant particularly in the case of claims from losses, claims from restructuring, credit balances from debt rescheduling agreements and loss provisions, as these are valued in accordance with the accounting principles (AP) and reported on a net basis.
Despite the war in Ukraine, SERV closed its 16th financial year with a positive net income (NI) of CHF 46.7 million (previous year: CHF 88.1 million) and posted a positive operating profit of CHF 29.3 million.
Premium income rose sharply from CHF 83.5 million in the previous year to CHF 156.1 million, resulting in the second-best income since SERV was established in 2007. The average was CHF 82.6 million. At CHF 121.4 million, SERV achieved the highest result in its history in terms of earned premiums.
Interest income from debt rescheduling agreements amounting to CHF 10.1 million was largely attributable to payments from Argentina amounting to CHF 8.9 million. Pakistan also managed to meet its interest obligations in 2022 (CHF 0.8 million). Furthermore, smaller interest payments were received from various other countries.
in CHF million
in CHF million
Loss expenses of CHF 96.9 million exceed the long-term average and are comprised of the following: the formation of IBNR (incurred but not reported) provisions amounting to CHF 26.4 million – mainly as a result of the war in Ukraine, the formation of provisions for reported losses totalling CHF 1.3 million, and the change in value adjustments on losses of CHF 55.4 million. In addition, losses amounting to CHF 12.9 million were definitively written off and costs of CHF 0.9 million for recovery measures were incurred.
The debt rescheduling results of CHF 14.7 million resulted from the release of obsolete value adjustments for the agreements with Bangladesh, Cameroon, Egypt, Iraq, Montenegro and Pakistan.
The increase in personnel expenses by CHF 1.7 million to CHF 16.7 million is due to the expansion of the workforce for the implementation of the strategy to transform SERV into a trade facilitator and also for the IT project. Non-personnel expenses of CHF 7.8 million included CHF 2.8 million for the IT project.
Financial income mainly comprises foreign currency differences and was positive in 2022 at CHF 1.2 million. As set out in the SERV Act, SERV may only invest surplus funds with the Federal Treasury at market interest rates. Changes in the key interest rate of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and the resulting adjustments to medium-term notes allowed SERV to generate interest income of CHF 17.4 million on its financial investments, which currently amount to CHF 3.124 billion.
“Despite the difficult geopolitical environment, SERV was able to report a positive business result and is well positioned for impending loss events.”
Chief Financial officer
On the assets side, cash in hand & at bank decreased by
CHF 22.4 million compared to 2021 and have returned to a level last seen before the emergence of negative interest rates.
The high premium revenues and major repayments from debt rescheduling agreements (in particular from Argentina and Pakistan) resulted in an increase in cash investments of CHF 173.4 million in the year under review. Credit balances from debt rescheduling agreements decreased by CHF 23.0 million in the year under review. On the liabilities side, the driving factors were the CHF 34.6 million increase in unearned premiums and the CHF 25.8 million increase in loss provisions.
As of 31 December 2022, capital totalled CHF 2.879 billion, CHF 46.7 million higher than the previous year. The total of risk-bearing capital (RBC) plus core capital (CCap) of around CHF 2.071 billion was CHF 445.9 million (27.4 per cent) higher compared with the previous year, driven by the geopolitical environment and the resulting adjustments (downgrades) of country risk categories (CRC). As a result, the compensation reserve (CR) decreased by CHF 357.8 million to CHF 761.0 million (32.0 per cent). The CR allows SERV to manage the major volatility it is exposed to through country and debtor downgrades and elevated losses as a result of political and economic crises. This reserve also allows SERV to continue covering risks for export transactions that are within the set limits, i.e. the risk appetite.
All in all, SERV has a solid capital base for fulfilling its legal mission of promoting the Swiss export industry by providing effective insurance solutions, even in periods with an uncertain economic outlook. At the same time, SERV is able to soften the impact of any deterioration in risk ratings for countries and enterprises and has the buffer necessary to deal with any type of crisis.
Cash flow statement
SERV’s 2022 cash flow statement (cf. PDF, Cash flow statement, p. 50) posted a net increase of CHF 151.0 million (2021: CHF 34.1 million). In previous years, SERV generated an average cash flow of CHF 125.9 million per year. SERV continues to have excellent liquidity with CHF 3.187 billion, consisting of cash in hand & at bank and funds deposited with the Federal Treasury.
At CHF 87.2 million, cash flow from operating activities was up CHF 82.2 million year on year. Premiums generated in the 2022 financial year were CHF 37.3 million higher than in the previous year. At the same time, loss payments fell by CHF 54.7 million. Loss repayments decreased by CHF 3.1 million to CHF 13.3 million and payments for personnel and operating costs increased (+ CHF 6.8 million).
Cash flow from investment activities includes both regular and unscheduled early repayments from credit balances from debt rescheduling agreements plus the corresponding interest. At CHF 64.0 million, this figure is increasing again as a result of the renegotiation of the debt rescheduling agreement with Argentina. Small payments were once again received from countries with pandemic-related deferral requests. Cash flow for this area averaged CHF 106.1 million in the past. Since 2020, the project costs for the IT project have been capitalised under intangible assets, with CHF 3.4 million capitalised for 2022. The cash flow relating to this capitalisation amounted to CHF 3.0 million. In addition, SERV received interest income of CHF 17.4 million from cash investments due to changes in the SNB’s key interest rate and the resulting adjustments to medium-term notes.
In the financial activities, a partial repayment of CHF 0.3 million for a cash deposit was made due to a changed risk situation in connection with ongoing counter guarantees.
Proof of economic viability
In 2022, SERV showed positive loading in all segments. This means that earned premiums exceeded the actuarial risk, i.e. the average expected annual loss, which is the theoretical probability-weighted average potential loss calculated for an annual reporting period. The calculation is based on the loss probabilities and assumed recovery ratios.
In 2022, all lines of business revealed surplus cover at operational level (economic viability 1) totalling CHF 60.1 million. Due to the interest income from cash investments, SERV posted significant surplus cover of CHF 77.5 million for economic viability 2.
Since SERV was founded, the average surplus cover of economic viability 1 for the primary segment “public debtors” has been CHF 7.4 million, and CHF 10.9 million for the primary segment “private debtors”. This means that economic viability 1 has so far been significantly exceeded for the primary segments. If economic viability on an operational level (economic viability 1) is positive, so is economic viability 2, unless SERV’s capital is burdened with negative interest rates.
In the income statement by segment, items that are not directly related to an insurance transaction in a segment are distributed across the three segments using an allocation formula (cf. PDF Notes regarding the income statement by segment, Comments 12–18, p. 58–59). Items are not broken down into segments on the balance sheet where doing so has only limited indicative value.
In the income statement, the segment “private debtors without del credere” closed the year with a negative result. This was largely down to the loss expenses resulting from the formation of provisions and value adjustments. The success of the two segments “private debtors with del credere” and “public debtors” offset the loss of the other line. Experience shows that the annual results for segment accounting are influenced to a large extent by the loss expenses incurred and are thus very volatile.