Canadian Underwriter

Zurich Insurance announces plans to position itself for future, new profitability targets

November 17, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

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Zurich Insurance Group plans to build on customer relationships, simplify the business and significantly reduce costs as part of its renewed focus on increasing business profitability and delivering high-quality earnings over the 2017-2019 period, the global insurer announced Thursday.

The concept of planning in business. Wooden cubes on a desk in the office. The concept of leadership. Hand men in business suit holding the cubes.“In the next three years, we will focus on execution to increase business profitability through delivering high-quality earnings,” group CEO Mario Greco says in a company statement, adding that client service will be one way in which the insurer will be able to differentiate itself.

“We are reshaping the business for new market realities and to best equip us for future success. We will become stronger as the competitive landscape shifts, establishing a sound base for future growth,” Greco continues.

In a bid to strengthen its position as a global composite insurer, the group will the following over the three-year period:

  • a business operating profit after tax return on equity in excess of 12% from 2017 – this is expected to grow over the next three years even with a higher equity base resulting from planned asset allocation changes;
  • US$1.5 billion in net savings by 2019 compared to 2015 baseline – this target will be delivered primarily through a comprehensive review of IT systems and contracts and shared services procurement processes;
  • cash remittances in excess of US$9.5 billion; and
  • a Zurich Economic Capital Model ratio of 100% to 120%, unchanged from the previous financial targets; and
  • a new dividend policy with a target payout ratio of around 75% of net income after tax attributable to shareholders.

“We feel very confident about delivering on our ambitious financial targets and we are committed to drive the business with rigorous discipline,” says Greco.

“We are well-positioned to deliver sustainable improvement in earnings, which will support an increase in the return of capital to shareholders over time,” he adds.

Zurich Insurance Group reports the new strategy – which involves consolidating the group’s position as a global underwriter for both Property & Casualty and Life – includes building on customer relationships, simplifying the business and significantly reducing costs.

Related: Zurich combines corporate, commercial businesses into single unit, appoints CEO of Commercial Insurance

By line, the insurer plans to enhance technical excellence and strengthen its go-to-market-approach for Commercial. The idea is to continue to build on its distinct capabilities in the management of international programs for large multi-nationals, and to enhance underwriting performance to improve profitability through more disciplined underwriting tools, initiatives to reduce portfolio volatility by limiting risk exposures and through talent management initiatives, training and career development.

For Retail, the offering will be differentiated by improving customer satisfaction and retention through stronger digital capabilities and use of metrics like net promoter scores to develop a better understanding of customers’ needs and preferences.

“Zurich aims to further expand its successful distribution partnerships through new bancassurance and affinity relationships, while deepening existing partnerships,” the company statement notes.

Related: Aegon, Allianz, Munich Re, Swiss Re and Zurich launch blockchain initiative B3i

Looking forward, there will be investments “primarily in new technologies, systems and data analytics to enhance Group efficiency and improve the customer proposition.”

In recently announcing its 2016 Q3 financial results, chief financial officer for Zurich Insurance Group George Quinn noted, “The strengthening of Zurich’s management team and simplification of the Group organizational structure have been completed, while absolute costs have continued to fall, reflecting actions taken earlier in the year. We are also strongly capitalized, with solvency well within our target range.”

Related: Zurich’s net income after tax attributable to shareholders up 342% in Q3 2016

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