Swiss Post’s banking division, PostFinance, has had a slower first half of the year than in 2011, despite taking on tens of thousands more customers.
Record profits at PostFinance have helped drive profits at Swiss Post in recent years, but in the first six months of 2012, the company said today its profits fell 9.5% compared to the same period last year, to CHF 296m ($303m USD).
PostFinance gained 63,000 new customers, who opened 134,000 new accounts, taking the amount being managed to CHF 102bn ($104bn).
But historically low interest rates on the financial markets hit the company’s overall result, with PostFinance having to deposit money interest-free at the Swiss National Bank in some cases.
Despite a 5% increase in the banking division’s CHF 446m ($456m) operating costs, the company’s staffing levels remained stable, with 42 new jobs created at the company, which now employs 3,464 full-time staff.
The six months up to the end of June saw PostFinance’s overall operating income down almost 2% compared to the same period last year, to CHF 745m ($762m).
PostFinance had a total of 2.87m customers and 4.47m customer accounts.
During the first half, PostFinance saw the amount of its mortgages with private customers grow 13.7% year-on-year to CHF 3.9bn ($4bn), while loans to business customers grew 1.3% to CHF 6.2bn ($6.3bn).
PostFinance noted that more than half its customers now manage their finances through the online banking service, e-finance, the 1.4m customer base growing more than 10% compared to the same period last year.
Next year PostFinance is to be turned into a public limited company, as required by the Postal Organisation Act, as passed by the Swiss parliament at the end of 2010.
Swiss Post said it is in the process of preparing for the change, which will include establishing a board of directors for PostFinance, as well as setting up the company’s own internal auditing department.
As PostFinance AG, the company will be supervised by the Swiss Financial Supervisory Market (FINMA), which will determine the amount of equity the company is provided with by Swiss Post as part of the authorization process, the company said.
Swiss Post is to release its first-half results at the end of this month.