Canada Life Int’l saw £1.1bn in new business in 2017; ‘still committed to bonds’

Canada Life International, the the UK-market-focused, life insurance-based financial product provider, today posted its 2017 results, which included £1.1bn of new business during the 12 months to the end of December, and said as it did so that it reaffirmed its “commitment to the international market”.

Canada Life International managing director Sean Christian, who is also executive director for Canada Life’s International businesses, noted that the results came after the company had redesigned “our entire business” over the past 18 months “with the customer in mind”.

Christian discussed this re-design in an interview with International Investment in December.

Alongside its results, CLI noted that recent Association of British Insurers data showed it held a 30% share of the UK market for its category of life insurance products as of the end of September.

Total assets under administration held in CLI investment products totalled £15bn, the CLI data released today also showed.

CLI is one of the survivors in a UK market for life insurance-based investment products that has shrunk steadily since 2008, when combined sales of on- and offshore bonds approached £8bn worth, according to ABI data. The reasons for this consolidation have included greater transparency brought about by new legislation that made some companies’ products uncompetitive, as well as the introduction of other types of savings products, and the growing use of platforms to hold investments instead of traditional bond wrappers.

CLI participated in the market consolidation itself as an acquirer in 2013, when it bought Legal & General’s Dublin-based investment bond business. Also that year, CLI’s Winnipeg, Canada-based parent, Great-West Lifeco Inc, bought state-rescued Irish Life.

In a statement accompanying the results, Christian referred to the industry’s consolidation, saying that it had “no doubt distracted some of our competitors”, and acknowledged “a recent trend of closed-book market consolidators buying up international life company books of business” – an apparent reference to last week’s agreed sale of Standard Life Aberdeen’s insurance business to closed-book operator Phoenix Group, the latest in a series of such sales.

“The ownership structures and less-well-known brands of these companies can be an issue for adviser firms in our market,” Christian added.

“Private equity ownership models do not naturally fit the due dilligence processes of many adviser firms.

“We should not forget that advisers are typically placing their largest and most important clients into international bonds.”

Because CLI addresses the UK market only, it has – as Christian told II in December, and reiterated today, in pointing to what he said were the company’s “exceptional 2017 results” – listened to its clients’ concerns and changed its business model to focus on what its customers wanted.

Great-West Lifeco is a diversified financial services holding company.

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