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Message from the Chairman & CEO

CEO Hans De Cuyper and Chairman Bart De Smet look back on the past year at Ageas and give a sneak preview of what is in the pipeline for the years to come.

Message from the Chairman & CEO

Dear Reader,

2022 has been a remarkable year in so many ways. As a business we completed the first year of our Impact24 three-year strategic plan, and we can already reflect with quite some pride on early successes and achievements.

But to talk about our performance in isolation of what happened in the wider world would not be credible. While the high-level threat of Covid may have diminished and we have regained much of our freedom of movement, the world is facing tough times. Everyone has been touched in some way. And our commitment to be a supporter of the lives of our customers has never been more important. 

The conflict on Europe’s eastern borders has had enormous consequences, not least the huge human price paid by people in Ukraine and Russia. Moreover, we have seen a major fallout at the geopolitical level, with a heavy impact on the economy, enterprises, and citizens around the world. 

Volatility in financial markets, inflation, rising interest rates, a global energy crisis, and new climate disasters have all converged into an unprecedented period of instability. But it is also at times like these that insurers can demonstrate the stability they can inject into markets and into the lives of those they serve

It is in difficult times, that we more than ever step forward to live up to our purpose as a supporter of the lives of our stakeholders. And that is also what we are fully committed to in the context of the tragic earthquakes that took place in Türkiye and Syria this year. Ageas has decided to donate EUR 1 million to the Sabanci Foundation, that will be used to provide immediate support on the ground and to fund recovery projects in the longer term. Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this tragedy, and we hope that with the support of many around the world, people in the region will be able to rebuild their lives, their cities, and their communities.

Solid operational and commercial performance

While we cannot control the external environment, we can control how we respond to it within our own business. We are pleased to report that despite the tough operating environment, in which we were not immune to the impact of adverse financial markets in China and the growing inflation in the UK and Türkiye, the Group continued to increase inflows and grow its customer base while delivering at the same time a strong underlying operational performance across all markets in 2022 and the net result exceeding EUR 1 billion.

Thanks to our strong balance sheet and solid underlying performance, we have been able to deliver on our dividend promise to investors, which envisions average dividend per share growth of 6-10% over the Impact24 period. The total gross cash dividend of EUR 3.00 per share over 2022 proposed by the Ageas Board of Directors, representing an increase of 9% compared to last year, meets this ambition.

Delivering the promise

Impact24 acts as a compass to help us to stay on course and leverage our core business while pursuing new growth engines, all in a sustainable way. We set the bar deliberately high in terms of our ambitions and we remain determined to deliver against a plan that is designed to help us grow while ensuring we remain resilient. Through a set of financial and operational targets and a range of non-financial and sustainability targets, we are holding ourselves accountable. In addition to our efforts to establish high standards in our new way of reporting beyond financials, we have worked hard on implementing the new IFRS9 and IFRS17 accounting rules under the leadership of Wim Guilliams, the current deputy CFO of Ageas. In June he will succeed Christophe Boizard who will retire as CFO of Ageas. We would like to take the opportunity to thank Christophe for his outstanding contribution in creating a strong financial basis from which the Group can further develop.

Diversification makes us stronger

In 2022 we continued to diversify both our business offering and our geographic coverage. Diversification allows us to grow and increases at the same time our ability to withstand unexpected events, by diversifying possible impact and risks. 

We are expanding our reinsurance offering to third parties under the brand of ‘Ageas Re’ as a new engine for growth, with an initial underwriting focus on P&C reinsurance in EMEA. And we have expanded our presence in the Indian Life Insurance market by completing the acquisition of our joint venture Ageas Federal Life insurance Company (AFLIC), thereby increasing our shareholding to a 74% majority stake. Our ambition is to continue our success story in India and to further develop our business in this dynamic market with low penetration rates and enormous potential for growth in the future.

Winning partnerships to spark growth

We stayed true to our DNA and pursued opportunities for growth by leveraging new ‘winning’ partnerships. A partnership with eBaoTech corporation allows us to strengthen our digital platforms capabilities. In just a few short months, we already developed together a new product at AFLIC in India that seamlessly connects to Federal Bank’s new digital platform. In the UK, Ageas has launched home insurance policies through the new online Amazon Insurance Store as one of the first participating insurers in this new initiative. Our partnership with MDRT (Million Dollar Round Table) will help improve the quality and extent of our agency network, particularly in Asia. And we also invested in the Belgian start-up Trensition, a longstanding partner supporting our AI-driven trend-scanning process.

Our new CDSO team (Chief Development and Sustainability Office) is demonstrating what can be achieved when you leverage collective talent across the globe to help drive the implementation of Impact24. To turbo-charge our Impact24 progress efficiently and enhance the customer experience, we are deploying shared technology and data solutions. We have, amongst others, created a dedicated AI/Machine Learning centre of excellence from which the entire Group can derive benefit, an Ageas Cloud to facilitate cross-country collaboration and create economies of scale with shared tools, a Group Security Operations centre to safeguard the Group’s systems security 24/7, and a fully-fledged API portal to participate in digital ecosystems.

A shared responsibility for making a positive impact on the world

We are putting sustainability at the heart of our business to drive growth and stimulate the transition to a more inclusive and sustainable world. In this report, we give you a taste of how this is integrated into everything we do. Among the 2022 initiatives: 

  • We increased our investments in social and green bonds, solar and wind energy projects, and in modernising and greening our real estate portfolio, making more than EUR 10 billion of sustainable investments. To achieve our goal of net-zero carbon emissions in our investments by 2050 at the latest, we challenged ourselves to set an intermediary target of 50% greenhouse gas emissions reduction in the portfolios of our European consolidated entities by 2030 and joined the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance.
  • We obtained the CO2 Neutral label with respect to our emissions in 2021 in Ageas’s own operations group-wide. We will continue to work towards structurally lowering our emissions and expanding our measurement scope.
  • Through our products, we are supporting customers in their own sustainability transition. Already 21% of our products incentivise our customers to make more sustainable choices today, and we target 25% by 2024.
  • For our people, we want to be a Great place to Grow. We currently rank top quartile on Employer Net Promoter Score, which suggests we are well on our way. In 2022, we achieved Top Employer status in all our Belgian entities and in the UK, and we were recognised as a Great Place to Work in India for the 4th year. Winning and retaining talent continues to be a huge challenge for the entire industry. We aim to diversify our talent pool and provide opportunities for our people to unlock their full potential whilst equipping them for the future. 

We are grateful to our people around the world who are committed to supporting the lives of our customers in challenging times, sometimes through the smallest of gestures. We know each ripple can grow into a positive wave tomorrow, ultimately creating the impact that is so much needed.

Resilience remains key

With change happening at accelerated rate, our reputation for adaptability has never been more important than in the past year. We thank our partners for staying focused on delivery in such volatile and uncertain times. We are proud of what we were able to achieve together in 2022 and we’re convinced that we are on the right track with Impact24. But we also keep our gaze firmly set beyond the 2024 horizon. Our unique approach to future foresight allows us to live up to the promises we made to our customers for the long-term and to help the societies they live in to thrive in the future. 

The combination of our forward-looking approach, our diversified business and the commitment of our people to reach our ambitions, gives us confidence in the near and long-term future. 

Thank you for your trust and continued confidence in Ageas.