Asga CFO 1992–2012, member of Executive Board from 1994
Thinking back to your time at Asga, what are your most vivid memories?
A great deal changed over that 20-year period. Big changes were occurring constantly, more or less from the start. Not just constant changes in the law but also very practical matters such as in management and administration – for example, we had just two PCs in the building back then. That’s impossible to imagine nowadays. Every Friday we would back up our data and the tape would be taken to the bank in person, where it would be stored in the safe.
How did you see Asga – as a pioneer in its area?
I didn’t join Asga until later, but even then that feeling still existed. At the time it was founded, Asga was certainly a bit of a novelty. Back then, big firms had already had their own pension systems – small businesses, on the other hand, had nothing along those lines. The founders of Asga realised that this needed to change and did something for the small businesses here in Eastern Switzerland too. So, Asga was a big pioneer. There was major interest among small businesses, with many new members coming on board relatively quickly. And that was at a time when occupational pension provision was still done on a voluntary basis. The concept of a co-operative providing pensions for employees of small businesses immediately caught on. Obviously there was resistance in the market when Asga emerged as a new and serious rival.
The concept of a co-operative providing pensions for employees of small businesses immediately caught on.
What challenges did this bring for Asga during your time?
Strong growth was the biggest challenge initially. The total balance sheet in the case of the first set of annual results I was responsible for – in 1992 – was CHF 600 million, but by the time of my last accounts – 20 years later – it was CHF 8 billion. We were growing too fast to cope with the workload, and finding new employees was very difficult. There were very few pension specialists in the St. Gallen region, so we always had to train them up ourselves initially.
Can Asga still be a pioneer these days?
I think so – yes. I don’t have a specific idea in mind, but Asga has always sought the best solutions and new options that enable it to offer top-class services at low cost – and it will undoubtedly continue to do that in future.