While the world around us remains turbulent, we keep building on our strengths. In 2019 we have grown to new record levels: Our revenues reached 142.4 billion euros, our operating profit 11.9 billion euros. Our healthy business mix and global diversification allowed us to outperform yet another year despite challenges in the performance of our industrial insurance segment.
There are many sources to our success. We achieved growth by gaining market share in mature but relatively saturated markets and through strategic expansion in selected regions. In Germany, for example, we grew by 15% – the rest of the market by 4%. Not only is our German life insurance business continuing its success story; also, our Property-Casualty segment can grow its customer base after several years of stagnation. At the same time, we are strengthening our presence in growing markets such as Brazil and China; e.g., through our partnership with JD.com. Our Asset Management segment reached 1,686 billion euros in third-party assets under management, a level unprecedented in our history – another strong indicator of how much trust clients worldwide extend to us. We are with them for the long run, celebrating our 130th anniversary in 2020. Our sustained and sustainable business success allows us to gratify you, our shareholders: As we achieved a net income attributable to shareholders of 7.9 billion euros, we are in the position to propose another increase in dividends to 9.60 euros per share – the seventh increase in a row.
Our financial performance is strong, and so is our organizational health: Our people and leaders are bringing to life our strategy “Simplicity Wins.” We are creating an environment that is open to and promoting constant change – an essential success factor in highly volatile times like these. The new spirit can be felt throughout the organization, and it is expressed in our Inclusive Meritocracy Index, which measures leadership and performance culture, reaching an all-time high of 73%. Still, we want to do more to mobilize in particular our frontline employees. They are the face to our customers. Their outstanding commitment is one of the reasons in a comprehensive set of initiatives, which helped us to manage the growth of number of businesses, where Allianz is loyalty leader when customers are asked about their willingness to recommend us to their family and friends. Nevertheless, we must become even better in customer service excellence. Our focus on productivity can never be an excuse to compromise on customer experience.
It takes a strong base to remain confident even in uncertain times. We have therefore written down our company purpose and, over the past two years, established it throughout our global organization units. Employees worldwide have worked to put into words what inspires everyone at Allianz to dedicate their best efforts to our customers day by day:
WE SECURE YOUR FUTURE
Apart from the innumerable everyday activities through which Allianz employees fill our company purpose with life, there were some achievements this past year that we are particularly proud of:
- We made a series of acquisitions to strategically rebalance our portfolio. To name just a few: In Brazil, we are expanding our presence to become one of the country’s top insurers in Property-Casualty insurance. In the UK, we effected two transactions that made us the second largest general insurer in the market. Our asset manager PIMCO completed its acquisition of Gurtin Municipal Bond Management to offer clients a more extensive and enhanced suite of strategies and services.
- We continued our productivity improvement and managed to further reduce our expense ratio in the Property-Casualty business – true to our promise of 2018 to focus on what adds value for customers. As an acknowledgement for this achievement, we are rewarding our employees with a free Allianz share in 2020 – true to our promise to them, that they should benefit from our efforts.
- For the first time, Allianz was ranked the number one insurance brand in the Interbrand Best Global Brands Ranking. In the Top 100 of global brands, we moved up six places to number 43.
- As part of our continued efforts to safeguard a sustainable future, Allianz initiated the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance – a group of the world’s largest pension funds and insurers which have committed to reduce the carbon emissions from their investment portfolios to net-zero by 2050. Along the same lines, we also co-chair the Global Investors for Sustainable Development (GISD) initiative, which aims to scale up finance and investment in sustainable development. Through actions like these we gain leading positions in key sustainability rankings like the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices year after year.
These achievements are the best proof for the exceptional quality of our people. On behalf of my Board of Management colleagues – and, I assume, on your behalf as well – I want to express my sincere thanks to our employees and partners around the globe for their unfailing dedication and great work.
Like every year, 2019 also presented some challenges. Foremost among them was the low interest rate environment, with rates even turning negative in a growing number of instances. To continue delivering high value to our customers, we moved into alternative asset classes early on, reaching 161 billion euros in assets under management by the end of 2019. As we carefully adjust our portfolio, we manage to keep our balance sheet strong even under unfavorable conditions such as these, continually confirmed by very good ratings.
Our resilience is fostered by our strategy “Simplicity Wins”. We are making insurance and investing simpler for our clients. We are slimming down our products, our processes, and our IT. We are starting to get rid of old technologies and to prepare for a future-oriented digitization, which is not designed to fit with legacy systems but to accommodate future customer needs.
We look to the next year with utmost confidence – not because it is going to be an easy one (it certainly isn’t) but because we are well prepared for what lies ahead.
Thank you for being at our side.