12 March 2020
Announcing its annual results for the year ended 31 December 2019, Sanlam today reported a solid operational performance, reflected in growth of 14% and 15% respectively in net operational earnings and the net value of new covered business (VNB) written, as well as a 37% increase in net fund inflows. The 14% increase in net operational earnings is the combination of 9% growth in net result from financial services (net operating profit earned by the Group businesses) and very strong growth in net investment return earned on the Group’s capital portfolios. The latter benefited from a relatively stronger investment market performance in 2019.
All major businesses achieved solid growth in net result from financial services, apart from Sanlam Investment Group’s wealth and advisory businesses in the United Kingdom, and Saham’s general insurance business.
New business volumes increased by 12% despite low investor confidence in South Africa and lower investment inflows in the UK, Namibia and Kenya. Life insurance new business volumes grew marginally, investment business inflows grew by 14%, while general insurance earned premiums were up 22%.
Operational performance highlights included:
The Group delivered the performance amid headwinds including low economic growth in some of the Group’s key markets, heightened global geopolitical risks and volatility in investment and currency markets.
Amid these headwinds, the business did not meet its target for Return on Group Equity Value (RoGEV), achieving RoGEV per share of 6.4% (11.9% on an adjusted basis) lagging the target of 13.5%. The reasons for this underperformance included:
The Group’s diversification across geographies, market segments and lines of business, supported by a highly motivated and skilled human capital base, enabled the business to navigate the operating challenges and continue delivering value to Sanlam shareholders.
Sanlam Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ian Kirk, said: “We are satisfied with the performance achieved amid a challenging operating environment. Our relatively good performance is due to two key factors. First, we have a solid strategy and our executives and staff are aligned on the strategy. Second, we have demonstrated over many years an ability to execute on the strategy and that’s really a testimony to the diligence and dedication of our people at Sanlam. We remain confident that our strategy and talent will continue to deliver value to all our stakeholders and enhance our brand proposition.”
Sanlam Personal Finance (SPF) grew net result from financial services (operating profit) by 6%. Excluding higher new business strain emanating from the strong new business growth at Sanlam Sky, BrightRock, Sanlam Indie and MiWayLife, net result from financial services increased by 10%. Growth in the size of the Sanlam Sky in-force book over the past number of years and higher investment fees at Glacier supported SPF’s growth in 2019.
Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) grew net result from financial services by 29%. The Saham acquisition concluded in 2018 had a positive structural impact on the 2019 earnings. The Indian operations delivered a stellar performance, supported by particularly strong growth at Shriram General Insurance. Across Africa, the life insurance businesses achieved good growth of 11% in net result from financial services. However, adverse claims experience suppressed the African general insurance underwriting margin to 2%, below the target range of 5% to 9%. A few large one-off claims, continued pressure on the Moroccan motor book and high claims inflation in Angola following the significant weakening in the Kwanza, were the main factors driving the underperformance. Investment return on insurance funds exceeded expectations and countered some of the negative claims experience.
Sanlam Investments Group’s (SIG) net result from financial services declined by 7%. All major businesses delivered satisfactory growth, except the UK wealth and advice businesses, which were impacted by pressure on advice fees and a number of one-off project related expenses. SIG’s third-party asset manager’s gross result from financial services increased by 42%, a stellar performance under difficult conditions. The investment team had a good year, with more than 85% of portfolios exceeding benchmarks, contributing to an increase in performance fees from R17 million in 2018 to R71 million in 2019. The strategic focus on alternative asset classes also contributed considerable earnings in 2019. Wealth Management’s gross result from financial services increased by 9%. Fee income rose by some 10%, attributable to net inflows in the prior year and a favourable change in mix of business. Sanlam Specialised Finance did well to deliver growth of 3% in gross result from financial services despite an increase in credit-related provisioning in the current challenging operating environment for corporates in South Africa.
Santam’s net result from financial services increased by 2%. A very good performance given 2018’s 9.2% underwriting margin. The 2018 favourable claims experience did not persist in the first half of 2019, contributing to a decline in the underwriting margin for conventional business to 7.7%, however this remains at the upper end of the 4% to 8% target range.
Sanlam Corporate’s net result from financial services increased by 2%, a considerable improvement since the first half of 2019 when underwriting results were under pressure. Gross result from financial services increased by 3%. Group risk profit doubled to R210 million in 2019. Good traction in the conversion of standalone funds to the Sanlam Umbrella Fund benefitted the earnings of the administration, advice and investment units. The cluster’s inflation linked annuity portfolio earnings were transferred to SIG in 2019 and certain health operations were sold to Afrocentric in 2018. On a comparable basis gross result from financial services increased by a credible 14%.
SPF achieved a strong second half performance, especially at Glacier which found renewed traction. Overall new business sales increased by 1%, up 2% excluding the Capitec credit life business written in 2018 that did not repeat in 2019. Sanlam Sky new business sales increased by 41% excluding the Capitec credit life business written in 2018. The traditional intermediary channel delivered growth of 10%. The new Capitec funeral product launched in May 2018, contributed R1.1 billion in new business volumes in 2019.
SEM new business volumes increased by 33%, benefiting from the Saham structural activity. All major territories and lines of business exceeded their volume targets, except Angola, Cote d’Ivoire and Lebanon. Overall new business volumes in the former Saham portfolio were broadly in line with targets for the year.
SIG’s new business volumes increased by 14%, the aggregate of 24% growth at the South African asset and wealth management businesses, partly offset by a lower contribution from the international portfolio. New business performance was broad based in the South African asset management business, with pleasing institutional, retail and alternative flows. The Alternative business reported strong inflows as Climate Investor One Fund had a final close in June 2019 of $850 million. Retail funds reported strong inflows across solutions and products with Implemented Consulting. SIM collective investment scheme range and Satrix funds all achieved good inflows. Wealth management flows improved in the second half of 2019 and ended the year with growth of 38%. Net fund inflows were a particular highlight for the year, increasing by 194% to R21.2 billion.
Gross written premiums at Santam increased by 8%. Motor and property, which contributes 68% of total gross written premiums, increased by 6% in a challenging environment of low economic growth and competitive pressures. Motor business increased by 4%. Strong growth at MiWay of 10% was tempered by marginal growth in the intermediated commercial book. Property business grew by 9%, following good growth at Santam Re, Niche and Commercial. Engineering (20%) and alternative risk business (14%) also reported strong growth.
Sanlam Corporate grew new business volumes by 14% from a high base in 2018 that included a few large mandates. Both recurring and single premium business increased strongly. The umbrella fund and non-life investment lines of business contributed most of the growth.
Overall net fund inflows of R56.8 billion in 2019 is a particularly satisfactory performance amid the challenging market conditions.
The Group started the year with negative discretionary capital of R3.7 billion, after paying for the Saham acquisition. Several transactions during 2019 affected the balance of available discretionary capital, which amounted to R220 million at 31 December 2019.