Annual Report 2021
About a.s.r.
Message from the CEO

With this annual report, a.s.r. accounts for its activities in the year 2021. Before discussing this further, I must first say a word about recent developments. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has made the geopolitical situation complex and unstable, and it is difficult to predict how this will develop. We sympathise with the population of Ukraine and with surviving relatives of the innocent victims of this war. We sympathise with our colleagues who come from Ukraine and those who have family and friends in Ukraine, but also with our Russian colleagues and their families who do not support this war. Clearly, the war in Ukraine and the measures being taken against Russia by countries throughout the world will have an impact on the economic prospects and the financial markets worldwide. We are following these developments closely and will take appropriate measures where necessary.

We can only hope that this senseless act of violence against a country and its population will quickly come to an end. At the same time, we must be realistic and realise that international relations could be seriously disrupted for a longer period.

Looking back on the past year and on 2020, the year in which the world fell into the grip of COVID-19, I am satisfied with how we at a.s.r. have addressed this. We succeeded in realising excellent results for 2021, to which all our business lines made a positive contribution. This is because, with confidence in our own strengths and abilities, we were able to hold on to our strategy. This is based on long-term value creation for our stakeholders, with clear targets for what we want to achieve, both financially and in terms of sustainability.

We now appear to have passed the peak of COVID-19, while measures are being eased. These had a substantial impact on our personal lives, on the business community and on society as a whole. At the same time, together with our employees, we were able to make great progress with hybrid working. This contributed towards higher job satisfaction, higher productivity and a strong Net Promoter Score (NPS) among customers and intermediaries. We will take these lessons of two years of COVID-19 with us as we find a new balance between working at the office and working from home in the ‘new normal’.

Another topic that has had our attention in the past year is how we treat each other and our customers. Through the eMood, the Vitality scan, the Denison scan, ethical workshops and dialogue sessions we are in contact with colleagues about diversity, equality and inclusion to make our workplace a pleasant and safe place for everyone. We also pay attention to gender-neutral registration of and communication with our customers and employees. We are aware that not everyone recognises themselves in only the male or female option. That is why we are investigating how we can deal with this in an appropriate way.

2021 was in many ways a remarkable year. In our long history predecessors of a.s.r. were well known by strong brand names suchs as AMEV, Stad Rotterdam and Woudsend Verzekeringen. In 1964 De Amersfoortse was established and since the merger in 1997, De Amersfoortse has been part of a.s.r. As part of our brand strategy we said goodbye to the Amersfoortse brand in april 2021. In order to strengthen the a.s.r. brand and our market position. The unique character of De Amersfoortse as a reliable and helpful insurer in the field of income and health insurance will certainly not be lost: a.s.r. remains a reliable partner for entrepreneurs, employers and advisors with the same employees, the same insurance policies and the same services.

Having said that, I would like to take a moment to look at our financial perfomance in 2021, which was very succesfull. We attained or exceeded all our financial targets for 2021. Our operating result rose by more than 15%. Organic capital creation (OCC) increased by almost 19% and, at 594 million, was well above the target of 500 million. Our solvency, at 196% was also well above our target of 160%. The return on equity was 16.3%, far exceeding the target of 12-14%. And finally, the combined ratio for P&C and Disability was 91.8% in 2021, a substantial improvement on our target of 94-96%. We also attained our targets in the field of sustainability for impact investments and for the carbon footprint of our investments. We also maintained a consistently positive recognition from customers and intermediaries. The latter is for instance reflected in the most recent annual performance benchmark from IG&H, where intermediaries ranked a.s.r. as the number one insurer in Pension and Disability, and the number two in P&C.

In December 2021, with a new composition of our Executive Board, we presented our medium-term targets. We are happy that, following the departure of Annemiek van Melick as CFO of a.s.r., in Ewout Hollegien we soon had the right excellent candidate available internally to take over this position. With the new targets for 2022-2024, which we presented during the Investor Update (IU), we are taking a new and ambitious step forward. Our intention is to have impact investments of at least 4.5 billion on our own balance sheet at the end of 2024 and to have reduced our carbon footprint by at least 65% in 2030 (base year 2015).

For the coming years, we have identified eight points for attention within our strategy. We aim to continually create sustainable value for all stakeholders by actively seeking opportunities for acquisitions, particularly of small and medium-sized insurers, and by consolidating life insurance portfolios. We explicitly see possibilities for profitable growth in the P&C, Disability, Asset Management and Pensions DC business lines. In addition to relatively stable developments in the Life segment and the optimisation of the service books, we expect our fee-based business to continue to perform well and show further growth. Intermediaries are essential partners for us. We wish to strengthen these relationships further and so increase our value in the chain. In order to improve customer perceptions still further and provide our customers with an even better service, we are working hard to expand our online service provision, so that customers have direct access to their personal products. We aim for self-service where possible and personal communications where necessary.

In the implementation of our strategy, we maintain our strict financial discipline. Retaining a strong balance with financial flexibility offers scope for profitable growth. If there are no possibilities for profitable capital deployment, we will return capital to shareholders, subject to certain conditions. In the presentation of our financial targets during the IU in December 2021, we said that our intention is to repurchase shares to the amount of at least 100 million per year in the coming three years. We also announced that from 2022, we would switch to progressive, slowly rising dividend distributions, based on a proposed dividend of 2.42 per share for 2021.

The results presented showed that 2021 was one of the most successful years in a.s.r.’s history. But as the well-known disclaimer says, past results offer no guarantees for the future. The start of 2022 was turbulent, with severe storms and extensive rainfall. As with the floods last year, these caused substantial damage. Our experts took immediate action in order to assist customers quickly and professionally. These are the times at which, with the right service, an insurer can provide the added value that customers can expect of us. The damage from these storms is expected to lead to claims for at least 40 to 60 million. And although, in all probability, no direct connection can be made here with climate change, we now know that climate-related damage will occur more frequently. We must learn from the crisis situations arising through extreme weather and flooding. As a sector, we must address the challenges in order to ensure, together with the government and other partners, that these risks remain affordable in the future, through insurance cover or in other ways. These could, for example, include a fund built up with a small surcharge for each policy, which can then be deployed in the event of major climate-related crises.

And while it is difficult to predict how the global situation will develop in the coming period, together with all our colleagues, we will continue to build on the future of a.s.r. in 2022. A future in which we not only devote attention to all global issues, but also continue to work on equality and inclusion. With all the experience that we are gaining and the lessons that we are learning from difficult situations, a.s.r. continues to develop in order to be there for our customers when we genuinely make a difference, for and with our employees, who realised our successful year through their efforts and who support us for and with our shareholders in the implementation of our strategy. I would therefore like to thank our customers, intermediaries, shareholders and all colleagues at a.s.r. for their continuing support and trust in a.s.r.

Jos Baeten

CEO and Chair of the Executive Board