W&W Group achieves record earnings in 2021
- Earnings are well above original expectations thanks to strong new business, a friendly capital market environment, efficiency gains and a prudent risk policy.
- Losses from the summer’s natural disasters are already fully reflected in the financial statements.
- Significant growth in real estate financing and insurance business.
- Digital insurer “Adam Riese” continues its success story.
The Wüstenrot & Württembergische Group (W&W) closed the 2021 financial year with a record consolidated net profit. Total comprehensive income under IFRS was € 352.2 million, an increase of 67 per cent on the previous year’s figure of € 210.8 million. Earnings were thus in line with the forecast, which was raised again at the beginning of 2022. Earnings came in well above original expectations due to the combined effect of strong new business, a much friendlier capital market environment in 2021, efficiency gains from greater digitalisation and a prudent, forward-looking risk and reinsurance policy. In W&W AG’s individual accounts, net profit for the year (according to the German Commercial Code, HGB) increased 11.4 per cent to reach € 111.7 million. The Executive Board and Supervisory Board will propose to the Annual General Meeting of W&W AG on 25 May 2022 to pay a dividend of 65 euro cents per share for 2021. Since this is the same amount paid the previous year, that means W&W is continuing its stable, reliable dividend policy.
Jürgen A. Junker, Chairman of the Executive Board of W&W AG: “It is difficult to talk about our own achievements amid the distressing times of war. The outstanding development of business in 2021 confirms the W&W Group’s intrinsic strength. That is far from a foregone conclusion given the challenges we faced last year. Everything that we shaped ourselves has been successful. The months-long lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic challenged our teams just as much as the strong storms in the summer. However, our policy of reinsuring risks allowed us to offload much of the considerable cost of those claims. The consequences of the storms are therefore already fully reflected in our financial statements. The transformation of the W&W Group, initiated five years ago, has clearly made our company stronger, more profitable and more resilient in a crisis. We have become more agile, efficient, digital and knowledgeable about our customers. My gratitude and respect go to all the employees and advisers who have once again shown that the W&W Group is a fair, reliable partner to our customers.”
New business in 2021
The W&W Group recorded very significant new business growth in some areas in 2021. Gross premiums written in property/casualty insurance increased 6.7 per cent to € 2.19 billion. As in the previous year, growth was mainly driven by the corporate customers business and, to a lesser extent, by the motor and retail customers business. The combined ratio in property/casualty insurance improved 1.3 per cent to 87.7 per cent despite the high claims costs from natural disasters. The net loss ratio reached a very good 62.6 per cent (2020: 64.1 per cent). This was due to a generally cautious underwriting policy, the extensive reinsurance of storm damage and moderate motor vehicle claims experience, since the pandemic made people less mobile.
“Adam Riese”, the multi-award-winning digital insurer, grew its customer base by almost one third in 2021 and now has around 250,000 customers who can choose among seven insurance products. Its product range was expanded to include e-scooter insurance this year in order to better align its service offering with e-mobility trends.
In life and health insurance, gross premiums increased another 4.0 per cent to € 2.54 billion in 2021, driven by both life and health insurance. New premiums even increased 16.1 per cent, fuelled by the life insurance business. Württembergische Versicherung expanded its range of products for unit-linked annuities, company pension schemes and occupational disability insurance and incorporated much more flexibility into these products in the reporting year.
New lending business in construction financing (including referrals to partner banks) in the residential division grew strongly once again. It grew 12.5 per cent to € 6.85 billion in 2021. That marked the fifth record-breaking year in a row. Demand for private residential property remained high. Property owners, supported by government subsidy programmes, invested in energy upgrades of their properties as well. Negative effects came from factors such as restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the high capacity utilisation of contractor businesses and rising material prices.
New home loan savings business (net) dropped 3.8 per cent to € 10.0 billion. Since the industry as a whole lost around 6 per cent, Wüstenrot’s market share increased slightly from 13.4 to 13.7 per cent. More high-volume financing contracts were concluded than small-volume financial planning contracts overall. The real estate subsidiaries, Wüstenrot Haus- und Städtebau (WHS) and Wüstenrot Immobilien (WI), also provided numerous positive contributions to sales and earnings.
Outlook for the full year of 2022
The W&W Group will continue its digital transformation in 2022 and invest significantly in products, people and processes. It will continue to pursue the strategic goals of remaining profitable, achieving above-market growth in all segments, reducing operating costs to market levels and further boosting customer satisfaction. Capital and financial markets are increasingly uncertain and volatile as the coronavirus pandemic continues, inflation grows and the war against Ukraine unfolds. It is not currently possible to reliably forecast the extent and duration of the market volatility and uncertainty. In this environment, the Executive Board expects consolidated net profit to be around € 250 million in 2022, assuming that claims experience returns to normal.
Jürgen A. Junker: “We expect that everything we can influence and control at the W&W Group will continue to do well in 2022. We are right on schedule in digitally transforming our business, are gaining customers and market share in many areas and will devote more energy to important forward-looking issues such as employer branding and sustainability this year. Nevertheless, we will be well-served by remaining vigilant and keeping a close eye on the increased macroeconomic risks.”