W&W Group: 2018 result exceeds target mark
In 2018, the Wüstenrot & Württembergische Group (W&W) successfully continued the transformation it initiated two years ago. The financial year was characterised by a strong start for new digital products and initiatives as well as by very satisfactory new business. With a consolidated net profit for the year of 215.2 million euros, the financial planning group exceeded its target of 200 million euros.
Jürgen A. Junker, Chairman of the Executive Board of W&W AG: “In 2018, the W&W Group made significant progress economically, strategically and in its positioning. Our permanent goal of becoming a bit better, more innovative and more agile every day is increasingly affecting the entire company. The high level of investment in our future is beginning to take hold and is now having a successful effect. The broad base of more than 6 million customers, good new business, tight management of our costs and, last but not least, the strong commitment of our employees form the basis for driving the restructuring forward. We are not getting any tailwind from the markets, which continue to be difficult. All of our successes are the result of sustained hard work. The challenging market environment will continue to place many demands on us in 2019. Despite all our progress, we are therefore doing our best to remain down-to-earth and cautious.”
Key indicators of the Group for 2018
- Consolidated net income after taxes reached 215.2 million euros and was thus noticeably above the 200 million euros mark. As expected and communicated at an early stage, earnings remained below the previous year’s figure of 258.0 million euros. This is partly due to the decline in share prices, which will have a greater impact due to the conversion to IFRS 9 (Accounting for Financial Instruments) in 2018. On the other hand, future investments in new digital business models and in the improvement of processes and systems are having an impact.
- By far the largest profit contribution again came from the property and casualty segment, thanks to the expansion of its position in the markets, a further improvement in the underwriting result and a moderate combined ratio.
- Group-wide general administrative expenses rose by less than one per cent, thus developing below average in relation to both inflation in Germany and tariff increases. Thanks to this strict cost management, W&W was able to achieve its goal of increasing productivity in the Group by 5 percent in 2018.
Performance of the divisions in 2018
- New home loan and savings business (gross) in the segment increased again compared with the previous year and reached 13.8 billion euros (2017: 13.6 billion euros). At 11.4 billion euros, net new business, which is paid-in new business, was down 0.9 percent on the previous year. Wüstenrot Bausparkasse thus continues to be the number two within the industry in Germany. This position will be reinforced by the recent acquisition of Aachener Bausparkasse.
- In 2018, construction financing grew by 14 percent to 5.5 billion euros (including placements in the debt register). This positive development is attributable on the one hand to the expansion of the product range in 2018 and on the other to faster and more customer-friendly credit processes and online services.
- Württembergische Versicherung’s gross premiums written in property and casualty insurance rose by 5.5 percent to 1.85 billion euros. This growth is attributable to the motor vehicle business and the corporate and private customer segments.
- In life and health insurance, gross premiums written increased by 4.5 percent to 2.22 billion euros, mainly thanks to significantly higher single premiums in life insurance and further growth in health insurance.
Digital business models gain momentum
The digital business models of the W&W Group, which have been bundled in brandpool GmbH since May 2018, are already generating significant business and developing new customer groups:
- The digital brand “Adam Riese” alone has already won more than 30,000 customers for its flexible and affordable liability and legal expenses insurance since its launch between the end of 2017 and the end of 2018. In the meantime, the number of customers has already reached just under 50,000. A business liability insurance policy and a household insurance policy were added in the second half of 2018.
- Since the beginning of 2018, the digital financial assistant FinanzGuide has generated around 20,000 leads for our mobile sales force partners. The “FinanzGuide” offers customers of Wüstenrot and the Württembergische Versicherungsgruppe more clarity and convenience in using their financial and insurance products.
- NIST, the digital financing companion for your dream property, has recorded a pleasing development in its first year. It offers an alternative to branch visits for its digitally oriented target audience and works online with more than 400 partner banks.
The website of Wüstenrot Wohnwelt, launched in 2018, has already been clicked on millions of times. Wohnwelt has recharged the Wüstenrot brand and proven its merit beyond just the home loan and savings business in all “residential” questions.
Another focus in 2018 was on strengthening sales: the internal target of 570 so-called tandem partners in Wüstenrot and Württembergische’s mobile sales force was clearly exceeded, with more than 750 partners. This sales format bundles the W&W Group’s home loans and savings and insurance competencies, and thus takes an integrated approach to consulting.
Executive Board Chairman Jürgen A. Junker: “Our digital initiatives generate important business. We will add further products and services to our portfolio. The principle, however, remains unchanged: Digitisation is not an end in itself. Everything we do must benefit the customer. What’s clear is that we are proceeding quickly, consistently and successfully with our digitisation, creating further advantages for ourselves in the future.”
Outlook for the 2019 financial year
Persistently low interest rates, new competitors and further increases in regulation will remain challenges for the entire financial services industry in 2019. In addition to this comes the weakening overall economic development in Germany and Europe after years of upswing, the effects of which remain to be seen.
Irrespective of this, the W&W Group continues to expect a fundamentally promising environment for new business. Together with further progress in costs and productivity, the Executive Board expects to exceed the previous year’s consolidated net income of 215 million euros in 2019. This would put the W&W Group within the target corridor of a consolidated net profit of 220 to 250 million euros, which it is striving to achieve in the long term.