Ilmarinen’s financial statements 2022: Premiums written grew strongly and cost-effectiveness improved to a record level, return on investments -6.6 per cent and continued strong solvency
“2022 was a year of strong growth and improvement of effectiveness for Ilmarinen. Premiums written grew by as much as 11 per cent and cost-effectiveness improved to a record level. At the same time, the operating environment in the investment markets was very challenging. Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, Europe’s energy crisis, accelerated inflation and rapidly tightening central bank monetary policy cast a shadow over the economic outlook, broadly reducing investment market returns. Ilmarinen’s return on investments was negative, but solvency remained strong,” says Ilmarinen’s President and CEO Jouko Pölönen.
In a challenging market, Ilmarinen’s return on investments was -6.6 (15.3) per cent. Solvency capital decreased to EUR 11.8 (16.5) billion, and the solvency ratio to 125.8 (136.7) per cent. The long-term average annual return on investments since 1997 is 5.7 per cent, which corresponds to a real return of 3.8 per cent.
Premiums written grew to EUR 6.6 (5.9) billion. Behind the strong growth is the increase in the payroll and number of employees insured with Ilmarinen and the 0.45 percentage point increase made in the earnings-related pension contribution. A further driver of growth in premiums written was a strong performance in customer acquisition. Net customer acquisition measured with premiums written was EUR 290 (329) million and customer retention was excellent, at 96.7 (97.3) per cent.
Cost-effectiveness benefits customers
Ilmarinen’s cost-effectiveness improved to a record level. Operating expenses covered with the administrative cost component decreased to EUR 99.1 (126.5) million. The loading profit improved to EUR 58.1 (41.9) million and the ratio of operating expenses to expense loading components improved to EUR 63.1 (75.1) per cent despite the 9.5 per cent reduction in the expense loading rate.
“The record-high cost-effectiveness shows to our employer customers as lower earnings-related pension insurance contributions. Based on the excellent loading profit and solvency, Ilmarinen will refund EUR 175 million in client bonuses to its customers. In future, the administrative cost component will be determined specifically for each company and the expense loading charged to customers will be the smaller, the more cost-effectively we operate. To us, responsible management of pensions means that we want to continuously improve our operations and our efficiency. This benefits our customers, but it is also important for the entire pension system,” says Pölönen.
Popularity of partial early old-age pension increased
Ilmarinen paid EUR 6.6 (6.3) billion in pensions, i.e. an amount corresponding to the amount of its premiums written. The number of pensioners at the end of the year was 459,000. A total of around 75,000 pension decisions were issued during the year, which was almost 10,000 more than in the previous year. Particularly large growth was seen in the number of partial early old-age pension applications. A total of 8,606 partial early old-age pension decisions were made, almost three times as many as in the previous year.
“The exceptionally large index increment increased interest in applying for pension at the end of last year. Pension is a significant part of managing one’s own finances, and it is a good idea to take an interest in one’s pension already while working. The online services of Ilmarinen and other pension companies help individuals see how much pension they have accrued so far and create forecasts and calculations of their future pension if they continue working until their retirement age or beyond,” Pölönen points out.
The number of disability pension applications grew by 5 per cent from the previous year, and the number of applications returned to the pre-pandemic level. 3,536 persons transitioned to a disability pension or cash rehabilitation benefit. For many years now, depression has been the most common diagnosis behind disability pension.
Despite the growing number of applications, Ilmarinen’s customers received their pension decisions faster than before: old-age pension decisions in an average of 4 (8) days and disability pension decisions in 34 (40) days. More than 80 per cent of all old-age pension applications were submitted electronically, and customer satisfaction with online services improved.
A historically difficult investment environment
“Accelerating inflation, tightening monetary policy and concerns over economic growth depressed the investment markets, and performance was broadly negative during the year. In the equity markets, most equity indices fell 10–20 per cent while the returns on fixed income investment were historically weak due to rising interest rates and credit risk margins,” says Ilmarinen’s Deputy CEO and Chief Investment Officer Mikko Mursula.
The return on Ilmarinen’s equity investments was -10.2 (28.0) per cent. The total return on fixed income investments, i.e. bonds, fixed income funds, other financial market instruments and loan receivables, was -5.2 (3.9) per cent. Real estate investments returned (1.3) 8.8 per cent. The return on other investments was -1.1 (-2.0) per cent; this category includes commodity investments, investments in absolute return funds and currency investments.
Due to the negative investment result, Ilmarinen’s total financial result in 2022 at current value was a loss of EUR -4,592.2 (4,179.4) million.
Ilmarinen seeks to achieve carbon neutrality in the investment of pension assets in 2035. The updated Climate Roadmap now covers four asset classes: direct listed equities and shares, Finnish real estate and, more recently, corporate bonds and foreign real estate.
“Alongside climate change, accelerating biodiversity loss impacts the economy and thus also investment operations. We published a Biodiversity Roadmap, describing how the impacts on biodiversity and risks related to biodiversity loss are taken into account in investment operations,” Mursula says.
Employment and work ability need to be strengthened
According to the Finnish Centre for Pensions’ long-term calculations, the outlook for financing pensions has improved from the previous projection made in 2019 due to good return on investments. However, the ageing population, a low birth rate and a decline in the number of working-age people present a challenge to the financing of the pension system in the future. The birth rate fell to an all-time low last year: the number of births was below 45,000 and the fertility rate was 1.32, a record low since the measurements began.
“Many sectors and companies are already suffering from a shortage of labour, and the demographic trend is a cause for concern for the financing of both the pension system and the entire welfare society. This further highlights the need to boost employment and work ability among the working aged population and increase labour immigration. In addition, solvency regulation must be reformed to ensure that the best possible long-term return can be sought for pension investments,” Pölönen says.
For more information, please contact:
Jouko Pölönen, President and CEO, tel. +358 50 1282
Mikko Mursula, Deputy CEO, Chief Investment Officer, tel. +358 50 380 3016
Liina Aulin, Executive Vice President, Communications and Corporate Responsibility, tel. +358 40 770 9400
Ilmarinen’s Interim Report 1 January to 30 June 2023: Return on investments rose to 3.7 per cent, solvency strengthened and cost-effectiveness continued to improve
The return on Ilmarinen’s investment portfolio was 3.7 (-6.2) per cent, i.e. EUR 2.1 billion. The market value of investments grew to EUR 58.2 (56.3) billion. The long-term average return on investments was 5.8 per cent as of 1997. This corresponds to an annual real return of 3.8 per cent.
Ilmarinen’s Interim Report 1 January to 31 March 2023: Positive return on investments, premiums written grew and cost-effectiveness improved
The return on Ilmarinen’s investment portfolio was +2.2 (-2.2) per cent, i.e. EUR 1.3 billion, as a result of rising stock prices. The market value of investments grew to EUR 57.5 (56.3) billion. The long-term average return on investments from 1997 onwards was 5.8 per cent. This corresponds to an annual real return of 3.8 per cent.
Ilmarinen’s Interim Report 1 January to 30 September 2022: Premiums written growing strongly, return on investments negative, solvency remained good
The return on Ilmarinen’s investment portfolio was -8.0 (10.5) per cent, i.e. EUR 4.9 billion negative due to falling stock prices and rising interest rates. The market value of investments fell to EUR 55.8 (60.8) billion. The long-term average return on investments was 5.7 per cent. This corresponds to an annual real return of 3.9 per cent.