CEO Interview

We talked to our CEO Holger Laubenthal about the highlights and achievements of the past business year, about the Bank’s new strategy and about delivering on promises.

Holger, what were the main achievements and highlights of the past year?

At the end of 2021, we announced our new strategy, and it was important to me that we deliver on our promises in 2022. Cembra had a very good year: we rolled out our new strategy, and I am pleased with our success to date. Among the highlights were of course the launches of the Certo! credit card range and the new Cembra app. Expecta­tions inside and outside the company were very high on both counts, and it is great to see the progress made, and how well we delivered as a team. In addition, we entered into new partnerships and strengthened existing ones. This is important because these partnerships are part of the basis for our company’s success. Last autumn, the successful acquisition of the Byjuno company added to our footprint, positioning us as one of the leading players in the buy now pay later business in Switzerland. We also received external recognition in the area of ESG, thanks to our progress on sustaina­bility, and we pressed ahead with our cultural transformation.

Could you give us an overview of the 2022 results?

In a nutshell, 2022 was a successful year for Cembra, as we grew profitably in all busi­ness areas in a challenging environment. This underlines that our financing solutions are attractive and well appreciated by customers. Our net income and net revenues increased, commission and fee income increased as well, and our loss performance remained very strong.

“Cembra had a very good year and we delivered on our promises.”

Holger Laubenthal, CEO

Can you tell us more about the goals of the Bank’s strategy and the progress made?

We had some ambitious projects for the past year, and we made good progress in a number of key areas. Within our strategic programme Operational Excellence, we relocated our data centre, started consoli­dating our IT systems and laid the founda­tions for our cloud-based infrastructure. In business acceleration, we recorded organic growth in all our business lines thanks to a fantastic joint effort from our sales teams. We also achieved the first milestone in the development of our new leasing services platform, which is due to go live in 2023. In new growth, we delivered a strong performance in buy now pay later and embedded finance and are thrilled to welcome the Byjuno team into our family. As part of our cultural transformation, we significantly strengthened our teams’ customer-first mindset, and we made chang­es so that we can better collaborate across functions.

What are the goals of the cultural trans­formation and what makes Cembra an attractive workplace?

We are working to become a more learn­ing-based and collaborative organisation that is truly focused on a customer-first mindset. We have made good progress in the past year, but a transformation needs time and there is more work ahead of us. We are engaging with all our teams to make our new values come to life. Our focus on change and learning, trust and team are helping us to give everyone in the company a voice and to drive accountability and empowerment. This is also reflected in our results in the “Great Place to Work” survey. We are proud that we have been certified again in 2023. Being an attractive employer is important to us. We want our teams to enjoy what they do and to deliver the best output for our customers. This will be a continued focus in our work going forward.

“We want our teams to enjoy what they do and to deliver the best output for our customers.”

What is your outlook for 2023 and beyond?

The market environment continues to be dynamic and challenging, and it is all the more important that we remain focused on delivering on our strategy. We made good progress in 2022 and that makes me confident that we will do the same in 2023 and beyond. Our objectives are clear, and we will continue to focus on delivering on these for the benefit of our customers and all our other stakeholders.

In 2023, we will drive the integration of Swissbilling and Byjuno to become a single operating business for invoice payment solutions, which will allow us to serve our customers even better and significantly strengthen our position in Switzerland. We will launch our cooperation with TWINT. As part of our roadmap, we will also begin the next phase of our digitalisation efforts to advance our cloud-based solutions and new core banking set-up, and we will work to further improve our products and services as well. Lastly, we will continue to transform our corporate culture so that we live up to our commitments and remain an engaging and fun place to work.

“We had a strong per­formance in buy now pay later and are thrilled to welcome the Byjuno team into our family.”