Google Tag Manager Head Upper goes here

Finance and governance

As a global organization, the AO Foundation was impacted in a profound manner by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to travel restrictions, many face-to-face events were cancelled and whenever practicable were replaced with online events, which accelerated the adoption of an online format. Despite a very challenging year, the net result reached record levels boosted by the financial performance of our portfolio thanks to the market recovery in the second half of 2020.

The Asset Management Result in the current year was CHF 74.6 million.

Compared to the previous year, third party income declined by 64 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related shift to online events. Compared to the budget, third party income was down by 67 percent. Total operating expenses declined by 30 percent in the current year with the biggest driver, educational expenses, which declined by 50 percent compared to the prior year. The net operating result for the year was -26.7 million.

Operating income

68 million


Financial result

73 million


Foundation equity

1,466 million


Financial overview

The Financial Result of CHF 73 million was the result of the strong recovery of the global financial market in the second half of 2020, following the initial decline. As a result, the Foundation’s Equity increased to CHF 1,466 million by the end of 2020.

AO financial overview 2019 2020 Variance A20/A19
in million CHF abs abs abs %
Operating Income 97
68 -29
Operating Expenses 135 95 -40 -30%
Operating Result -38 -27 11 29%
Financial Result 213
73 -140 66%
Net Result 175 46 -129 74%
Equity per 31.12. 1,420 1,466 46 3%

Income statement

The 2020 income statement is as follows in comparison to the previous year and budget:


 Income Statement Consolidated 2019 Actual 2020 Actual 2020 Budget Variance A20/B20 Variance A20/A19
 in million CHF  abs  %  abs  %  abs  %  abs  %  abs  %
 Cooperation Agreements  62.9  65% 56.2 82% 62.5 63% -6.3 -10% -6.7 -11%
 3rd Party Income  33.6 35% 12.1  18%  36.9  37%  -24.8  -67%  -21.5  -64%
 Total Operating Income  96.5  100% 68.3  100% 99.4  100% -31.1 -31% -28.2 -29%
 R&D 28.2 21% 24.2 26% 29.3 21% -5.1 -17% -4.0 -14%
 AO Technical Commission 4.6 3% 2.2 2% 4.3 3% -2.0 -47% -2.4 -51%
 Community Development 7.1  5% 5.4 6% 6.9  5%  -1.5 -22% -1.7 -24%
 Education  59.2 44% 29.4 31% 64.3  45% -34.8 -54% -29.8 -50%
 General & Administrative 17.3 13% 20.6 22% 20.1 14% 0.5 2% 3.3 19%
 Global & Regional Boards  4.1  3% 2.2 2% 4.1  3% -1.9 -46% -1.8 -45%
 Others 14.7 11% 10.8 11% 12.9 9% -2.1  -16% -3.9 -26%
 Total Operating Expenses 135.3 100% 95.0  100% 141.9  100% -47.0 -33% -40.3 -30%
 Operating Result -38.7   -26.7   -42.5    15.9 -37% 12.1  31%
 Financial Result  213.2    72.7    35.0    37.7  108%  -140.5 66%
 Net Result  174.5    46.0    -7.5    53.6  n/a -128.4 74%

Asset management

The Asset Management Result of CHF 74.6 million reflects an actual return of 5.5 percent on the underlying financial assets amounting to CHF 1,435 million by the end of 2020.


The number of permanent staff increased from 291.5 to 295.8 full-time equivalents (FTEs), the percentages of their distribution across the AO is represented below.

  • Institutes

    121.4 FTEs/41%

  • Clinical Divisions

    106.8 FTEs/36%

  • Support Units

    65.1 FTEs/22%

  • Others

    2.5 FTEs/1%

Governance overview

To continue to improve the agility and efficiency of its operations, reduce management complexity, and successfully support the AO clinical networks in an era of rapid change, digitization, and fast-emerging disruptive technologies, the AO Foundation Board approved replacing the AO's former executive management body, AOEM, with a new grouping—the AO Executive Committee (AOEC).

The new structure, which came into effect in September, reflects the key AO strategic priorities and creates cross-organizational areas of activity, instead of reflecting purely organizational units or structures. It fosters cross-divisional management collaboration, while maintaining the governance structures of the AO's clinical divisions and unit—AO Trauma, AO Spine, AO CMF, AO VET, and AO Recon—unchanged. The AOEC is structured into the five key areas of AO activity: Education Development, Global Networks, Innovation Translation, Operations and Finance, and Research and Development.

The new structure enables the AO management to respond to the needs of the global surgeon network we serve more effectively and faster and provides greater transparency and accountability in decision-making. Designed to increase agility for the benefit of all areas of the organization, the AOEC focuses on strategic development and streamlining the management discussion and decision-making processes.

Opportunity, diversity, and inclusion

The AO is committed to building a truly inclusive and supportive working environment, which in the end will improve the care we provide for our patients. In June, following results from a comprehensive survey launched by the AO's Opportunity, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiative (ODII) in late 2019, the AO Foundation Board approved the visionary project AO Access that seeks to address existing inequalities to entry and advancement within the AO, and to identify and overcome barriers.

Based on a concept of task forces, recruited through open calls with representatives from all AO regions and across all the AO's clinical divisions, clinical unit, and institutes, and involving surgeons and staff alike, AO Access is driving change through the implementation of pro-diversity initiatives that have already been evaluated and shown to be effective in other workplaces.

AO Access' interventions focus on expanding people's perceptions of what is normative and enhancing opportunities to strengthen the AO with more diverse representation across our organization. The project’s success is tied to the engagement of people, as well as mentorship, a critical component to making the AO more diverse and inclusive.

Transparency section

According to its transparency policy, the AO Foundation publishes annually the total remuneration of the AO Foundation Board (AOFB), international boards of the clinical divisions, and the AO Executive Management, in addition to disclosing all scientific grants to third parties.

Remunerations per board

The total remunerations summarized for all governance activities of the International Funding Boards in 2020 were CHF 1,309,950 (2019: CHF 1,294,500) which is 1.4 percent (2019: 1.0 percent) of the total Operating Expenses of the AO Foundation and its institutions. The table below shows the total remuneration of each individual international board in absolute amounts CHF and as a percent of the total amount of individual operational expenses, as well as the absolute amount of the highest individual remuneration amount within each board in 2020:

   2019  2020
 AO Foundation Board  10 members  10 members
 Total AO Foundation Board  352,500  352,500
 % of total Operating Expenses AO Foundation  0.3%  0.4%
 Highest remuneration AO Foundation Board  110,000*  110,000
 AO Trauma International Board  10 members  10 members
 Total AO TIB  325,000  331,250
 % of total Operating Expenses AO Trauma  0.9%  1.9%
 Highest remuneration AO TIB  75,000  56,250
 AO Spine International Board  11 members  11 members
 Total AO SIB  312,500  312,500
 % of total Operating Expenses AO Spine  1.4%  2.4%
 Highest remuneration AO SIB  75,000  75,000
 AO CMF International Board  9 members  9 members
 Total AO CMFIB  250,000  262,500
 % of total Operating Expenses AO CMF  2.7%  5.6%
 Highest remuneration AO CMFIB  75,000  75,000
 AO VET International Board  9 members  9 members
 Total AO VETIB  54,500  51,200
 % of total Operating Expenses AO VET  1.5%  2.7%
 Highest remuneration AO VETIB  30,000  30,000
 Grand Total  1,294,500  1,309,950

Remuneration of the AO's Executive Management

The total annual compensation of ten members of the AO Executive Management (pro-rata January until July 2020) and the six members of the AO Executive Committee (pro-rata August until December 2020) in 2020 was CHF 2,248,621 (2019: CHF 2,784,570). The highest individual compensation was CHF 331,600 resulting in a 1/6.58 relative ratio between the highest and the lowest paid individual compensation (permanent employees).

Assignment of scientific and other grants to third party organizations

In 2020, AO Foundation funded research projects with scientific and other grants in a total of CHF 2,515,328 in 33 different third-party organizations (2019: CHF 2,462,458).

Cookies help us improve your website experience.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.