On 7 December 2021, a.s.r. held an Investor Update (IU) to inform the investor community on its strategy and also announced new targets for the 2022-2024 period. These targets are divided into group and business targets and financial and non-financial targets. The targets for operating return on equity (ROE), combined ratio (COR), Non-life organic growth, Life operating result, Life operating expenses, and fee-based business operating result will be impacted by the implementation of IFRS 17. A review of the impact on the targets is due in 2023.
The strategic targets discussed in this chapter are as presented at the IU. They will be revised in due course to reflect the impact of the business combination with Aegon Nederland N.V., which was announced on 27 October 2022. As part of the announcement, a.s.r. provided a target for organic capital creation (OCC) by the combined businesses. a.s.r. expects the OCC to amount to approximately € 1.3 billion, three years after the closing of the transaction. The transaction is expected to be completed on 1 July 2023 the earliest.
a.s.r. has ambitious targets, positioning itself for profitable growth. In the first half of 2022, the Dutch government abolished the various social distancing measures aimed at containing the spreading of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, a.s.r has experienced a normalisation of claims in Non-life.
A strong capital position remains very important to a.s.r. and it will therefore continue to target a Solvency II ratio safely above 160% (based on the standard formula).
A strong capital position enables a.s.r. to deploy capital for entrepreneurial purposes, absorb certain financial shocks, pay cash dividends and offer an additional capital return. In line with its policy, a.s.r. has halted its share buyback programme (SBB) due to the combination with Aegon Nederland N.V.
The Solvency II ratio (after the proposed full-year dividend) increased by 26%-points to 222% (2021: 196%) and was well above the target of 'safely above' 160%. This increase is in part due to the equity placement to fund the cash consideration relating to the combination with Aegon Nederland N.V., which is expected to be paid in 2023.
a.s.r. has also set a cumulative target for OCC for the 2022-2024 period. It aims to achieve a cumulative OCC of € 1.7-1.8 billion for the plan period. The OCC in 2022 amounted to € 653 million (2021: € 594 million). a.s.r. is well on track to achieve its cumulative target.
As a rational and economical allocator of capital, a.s.r. has set a target range for the return on the equity deployed in its businesses. A target range for operating ROE is set at 12-14%. The operating ROE over 2022 was 12.8% (2021: 16.1%).
a.s.r. had amended its dividend policy effectively as from 2022, offering its shareholders a progressive dividend going forward. Given the confidence a.s.r. has in its ability to successfully integrate the Aegon Nederland N.V. business, it has decided to propose a dividend per share of € 2.70 for 2022, which is a 12% step-up compared to the previous year, and a.s.r. has also raised its ambition to offer its shareholders a progressive dividend growing annually mid-to-high-single digit until 2025.
Customers are at the heart of a.s.r.'s purpose and its strategy is designed to meet their needs. a.s.r. closely monitors customer and advisor satisfaction by continuously measuring feedback, through the Net Promoter Score (NPS-r). The NPS-r score on a consolidated a.s.r. level is compared to the market average. Driven by the ambition to be the best financial service provider, the target aims to achieve an NPS-r by 2024 which is higher than the market average. The NPS-r is an analysis of the customer relationship; this extends the previous methodology of the NPS-c, which only measured customer satisfaction during contact moments. Product lines continue to report on NPS-c, refer to chapter 4 for the NPS-c scores of each product line. In 2022, the NPS-r decreased and remained below market average. The decrease is in line with the decline recorded in the overall insurance market in the Netherlands, and the gap between a.s.r. and the market average has remained stable.
a.s.r.'s target is to reduce the carbon footprint (scope 3) for investments for own account by 65% by 2030 (base year: 2015). This ambitious reduction applies to a.s.r.'s own investment portfolio and builds on the previous target to measure the carbon footprint for 95% of the investment portfolio. With this target, a.s.r. contributes to the targets of the Paris Agreement for reducing global temperature increase to a maximum of 1.5°C. In 2022, a.s.r.'s reduction stood at 65% and it is well on track to meet its 2030 target.
The cumulative target for Impact investments is to have at least € 4.5 billion of impact investments on the balance sheet by 2024. Impact investments are investments that seek to generate positive, measurable, social and/or environmental impacts in addition to financial returns. A definition of impact has been determined for every asset class, and special focus is given to themes such as energy transition, health and environment. These definitions are included in chapter 7.8. This target applies to Asset Management, a.s.r. real estate (Real estate) and Mortgages combined. The total amount of impact investments in 2022 rose to € 2.8 billion (2021: € 2.5 billion).
A high level of employee engagement is important for achieving the company’s targets. a.s.r. wants to be an attractive employer. The target is to achieve an employee engagement score of over 85 (percentile) each year to 2024. This target covers employees of ASR Nederland N.V., including external employees and excluding those of its subsidiaries. In 2022, the employee engagement score was 88 (2021: 91).
a.s.r.’s sustainable reputation is crucial for its strategy and positioning. Sustainability, transparency, reliability and corporate social responsibility are the four key underlying topics for the indicator. This indicator reflects a.s.r.’s sustainable reputation among the Dutch population. The target is to attain over 40% by 2024. In 2022, a.s.r.'s sustainable reputation was 37% (2021: 36%).
a.s.r. aims to continue its competitive and leadership position in managing profitability in P&C and Disability. Based on its strong performance in recent years, a.s.r. has improved its target to achieve a COR in the range of 93-95%. This range allows a.s.r. to absorb a certain number of calamities, such as major fires and heavy storms. a.s.r. expects that in a regular year, it can deliver a COR of < 95%. The COR for P&C and Disability combined amounted to 91.7% for 2022 (2021: 91.8%), which is better than the target range.
In pursuing profitable growth, a.s.r. will however not forfeit its key strategic principle of value over volume. Reflecting a.s.r.’s continued ambition for profitable growth is its target of GWP growth for P&C and Disability combined. a.s.r. aims to grow this organically by 3-5% per annum while remaining within the targeted COR range. In 2022, the annual organic growth in P&C and Disability combined amounted to 9.1% (2021: 5.2%).
a.s.r. aims to keep its operating result in Life at least at € 700 million per annum for the period 2022-2024. The operating result for the Life segment amounted to € 768 million in 2022 (2021: € 763 million), well in excess of the target.
a.s.r. has also sharpened its ambitions for the Life operating expenses and aims to manage these within the range of 40-50 bps. The operating expenses in relation to the basic Life provision amounted to 48 basis points (bps) in 2022 (2021: 45 bps), within the stated target range.
a.s.r.’s fee-generating businesses in the segments Asset Management and Distribution and Services are growing in terms of contributions to operating results. a.s.r. has raised its target for the operating result of these fee-based business to more than € 80 million by 2024. The operating result of the fee based businesses remained stable at € 64 million in 2022 (2021: € 64 million).