W&W Group: Very solid profit
- Financial planning group posts strong new business and market share gains.
- A shareholder dividend of €0.65 per share will once again be proposed.
- Penetrate target markets more strongly, increase cost efficiency: The next step of the W&W transformation begins.
- Executive Board Chair Jürgen A. Junker: “The W&W Group has done an excellent job of handling the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis. It showed its resilience and quickly adjusted to the new conditions.”
In the ‘Corona Year’ 2020 the Wüstenrot & Württembergische Group (W&W) successfully continued its transformation and posted very solid business performance. Despite the restrictions occasioned by the pandemic and volatility on the financial and capital markets, the Group generated consolidated net profit of EUR 210.8 million, which was only moderately below the previous year’s figure of EUR 249.1 million and only slightly below the range of EUR 220 to 250 million that the Group has defined for its medium- and long-term target. The financial planning group benefited from a pleasing overall level of new business, consistent cost management, favourable claims development in property and casualty insurance and efficiency progress as a result of high investments in the digitalisation of products and processes.
With regard to the separate financial statements of W&W AG, net income for the year in accordance with the German Commercial Code (HGB) rose by about EUR 10 million to EUR 100.3 million. The Executive Board and the Supervisory Board will propose to the Annual General Meeting of W&W AG on 20 May that a dividend of €0.65 per share be paid for 2020, an amount unchanged from the previous year. The proposal is consistent with the aim of the W&W Group to continue to be an attractive investment with the ability to pay stable dividends.
Jürgen A. Junker, Chair of the Executive Board of W&W AG: “Despite the coronavirus pandemic, we exceeded our expectations and only recorded a slight decline in profit. In both, the Housing and the Insurance divisions, we were able to expand market shares. Also Adam Riese, our new digital brand, has accelerated its impressive course once again. These are all very positive signs.”
“Overall, the pandemic of the past year substantially tested the ability of the W&W Group to withstand stress, and it passed that test with flying colours,” said Junker. “The W&W Group has become significantly more resilient. We quickly and successfully adapted to the new conditions, such as through the conversion of many processes to home office operation. This was possible only because the transformation initiated in 2017 has now taken root. I would like to thank the employees of our Group, who did everything to enable us to discharge our responsibility to our customers, particularly in a highly challenging environment.”
In the Housing division, which is where the W&W Group conducts property sales and financing, construction financing grew by 6.2% in 2020, totalling EUR 6.69 billion. This also includes referrals to partner banks. The market environment for residential construction loans remained favourable. This was due to persistently low interest rates, strong demand for residential housing, particularly in urban areas, and increased investments designed to preserve the value of properties, particularly for measures to improve energy efficiency.
The net new home loan savings business of Wüstenrot Bausparkasse came in at EUR 10.36 billion, falling short of the previous year’s figure of EUR 11.18 billion, particularly because numerous collaboration partners were forced to temporarily close branches and agencies due to the coronavirus. The number of loans was similar to the previous year. Our home loan savings bank considerably outperformed the market and expanded its market share.
The property subsidiaries – Wüstenrot Haus- und Städtebau and Wüstenrot Immobilien – also made welcome contributions to the success of the division.
In terms of property and casualty insurance, gross premiums written rose by 5.1% to EUR 2.05 billion. In particular, corporate customer business posted dynamic performance here. Claims development was once again very good, which was attributable to the good quality of the contract portfolio and only partially to the impact of the coronavirus, such as limitations on the ability of people to move about.
In the life and health insurance segment, gross premiums written increased further by 3.1% to EUR 2.45 billion. In this regard, health insurance also continued its growth course, with gross premiums written rising by 5.0%.
In the brandpool division, which pools the new digital initiatives and offers of the W&W Group, Adam Riese once again proved to be the key growth driver: By the end of 2020, the multiple award-winning digital brand had nearly 180,000 contracts in the portfolio – in only the third year since its launch. In the reporting year, Adam Riese introduced casualty insurance, its fifth product group.
W&W transformation: Focus on growth and cost efficiency
In the first phase of the W&W transformation, which began in 2017, the emphasis was on greater flexibility and agility, significant investments in digital products, optimisation of the portfolio of participations and sharpening of the market profile. Now, in the second phase, the objective is to penetrate target markets even more extensively and to increase cost efficiency. The aim is to boost internal efficiency in the Group by an average of 5% per year, in line with previous years. At the same time, the plan is to secure the progress achieved in terms of flexibility, customer orientation and the company’s dynamism and to further expand this.
By 2025, W&W wants to increase the number of its currently more than 6.5 million customers year after year. The number of new customers is to rise over the same period from the present 450,000 to more than 500,000 throughout the Group.
In this regard, it is planned to expand the pure digital brand Adam Riese as a leading direct brand and to also offer products outside the composite business through this channel. In addition, growing platforms like Wüstenrot Wohnwelt and the broad range of products available from the insurance companies put the Group in a good position to gain new customers with attractive offerings.
“We are confident that we will also be able to shape the next phase of our company development just as successfully as we have in past years. The W&W Group is increasingly becoming a fast, very modern company that is in touch with the market“, says Junker. “We are determined to push ahead with the transformation without compromise and do all that we can in order to further improve our work, our products and our services. In this regard, we will continue to invest significantly in digitalisation and in the qualification of our workforce and promote a culture that permits new paths to be explored and drives everyone to get a little bit better every day.”
Outlook for 2021
The W&W Group is optimistic that it will be able to build on the good business performance of past years in the 2021 financial year. Because of the ongoing substantial economic and political uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, it is currently not possible to make a reliable forecast of the consolidated net profit for 2021. In any case, the Group is adhering to its target of achieving consolidated net income in the corridor of EUR 220 to 250 million in the medium to long term.