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Audits. Value-added assessments.

Auditing is an integral part of our corporate governance. Both internal and external auditors are used to provide independent assessments of our operations and internal controls.

Internal Audit

Our Internal Audit function comprises a team of around 350 professionals, substantially all of whom are directly involved in auditing activities. The Head of Internal Audit, Rafael Lopez Lorenzo, reports directly to the Audit Committee Chair and the Audit Committee oversees the activities of the Internal Audit function.

Internal Audit performs an independent and objective assurance function that is designed to add value to our operations. Using a systematic and disciplined approach, the Internal Audit team evaluates and enhances the effectiveness of our risk management, control and governance processes.

Internal Audit is responsible for carrying out periodic audits in line with the Internal Audit Charter (PDF) approved by the Audit Committee. It regularly and independently assesses the risk exposure of our various business activities, taking into account industry trends, strategic and organizational decisions, best practice and regulatory matters. Based on the results of its assessment, Internal Audit develops detailed annual audit objectives, defining key risk themes and specifying resource requirements for approval by the Audit Committee.

As part of its efforts to achieve best practice, Internal Audit regularly benchmarks its methods and tools against those of its peers. In addition, it submits periodic internal reports and summaries thereof to the management teams as well as the Chairman and the Audit Committee Chair. The Head of Internal Audit reports to the Audit Committee at least quarterly and more frequently as appropriate. Internal Audit coordinates its operations with the activities of the external auditor for maximum effect.

The Audit Committee annually assesses the performance and effectiveness of the Internal Audit function. For 2018, the Audit Committee concluded that the Internal Audit function was effective.

External Audit

External audit forms an integral part of the Group’s corporate governance framework and plays a key role by providing an independent assessment of our operations and internal controls. The AGM elects the external auditors annually. Our statutory auditor is KPMG AG (KPMG), Badenerstrasse 172, 8004 Zurich, Switzerland. The mandate was first given to KPMG for the business year 1989/1990. The lead Group engagement partners are Anthony Anzevino, Global Lead Partner (since 2012) and Nicholas Edmonds, Group Engagement Partner (since 2016).

In addition, we have mandated BDO AG, Fabrikstrasse 50, 8031 Zurich, Switzerland, as special auditor for the purposes of issuing the legally required report for capital increases in accordance with Article 652f of the Swiss Code of Obligations, mainly relating to the valuation of companies in consideration of the qualified capital increases involving contributions in kind.

The Audit Committee is responsible for the oversight of the external auditor. The external auditor reports directly to the Audit Committee and the Board with respect to its audit of the Group's financial statements and is ultimately accountable to the shareholders. The Audit Committee pre-approves the retention of, and fees paid to, the external auditor for all audit and non-audit services.


External auditor rotation

In view of the EU rules with respect to mandatory auditor rotation for certain of our significant subsidiaries, The Group's Audit Committee has decided to pursue a rotation of our Group auditor. A tender of the Group audit mandate was conducted in the second half of 2018. At the conclusion of its evaluation, the Audit Committee recommended to the Board of Directors, and the Board of Directors approved, that PricewaterhouseCoopers be proposed as the new statutory auditor to the AGM in April 2020. The appointment is proposed to be effective for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2020 and is subject to shareholder approval.

Audit Committee pre-approval policy

The Audit Committee monitors and pre-approves the fees to be paid to KPMG for its services.

KPMG attends all meetings of the Audit Committee and reports on the findings of its audit and/or interim review work. The Audit Committee reviews on an annual basis KPMG's audit plan and evaluates the performance of KPMG and its senior representatives in fulfilling its responsibilities. Moreover, the Audit Committee recommends to the Board the appointment or replacement of the external auditor, subject to shareholder approval as required by Swiss law.

KPMG provides a report as to its independence to the Audit Committee at least once a year. In addition, our policy on the engagement of public accounting firms, which has been approved by the Audit Committee, strives to further ensure an appropriate degree of independence of our external auditor. The policy limits the scope of services that the external auditor may provide to us or any of our subsidiaries in connection with its audit and stipulates certain permissible types of non-audit services, including auditrelated services, tax services and other services that have been pre-approved by the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee preapproves all other services on a case-by-case basis. In accordance with this policy and as in prior years, all KPMG non-audit services provided in 2018 were pre-approved. KPMG is required to report to the Audit Committee periodically regarding the extent of services provided by KPMG and the fees for the services performed to date.

Fees paid to external auditors

  2018 2017 % change
in CHF milion      
Audit services 1 49.8 51.4 (3)
Audit-related services 2 5.7 7.2 (21)
Tax services 3 3.0 3.3 (9)

1 Audit services include the integrated audit of the Group’s consolidated and statutory financial statements, interim reviews and comfort and consent letters. Additionally they include all assurance and attestation services related to the regulatory filings of the Group and its subsidiaries. Audit fees exclude value-added taxes.

2 Audit-related services are primarily in respect of: (i) reports related to the Group’s compliance with provisions of agreements or calculations required by agreements; (ii) accounting advice; (iii) audits of private equity funds and employee benefit plans; and (iv) regulatory advisory services.

3 Tax services are in respect of tax compliance and consultation services, including: (i) preparation and/or review of tax returns of the Group and its subsidiaries; (ii) assistance with tax audits and appeals; and (iii) confirmations relating to the Qualified Intermediary status of Group entities.