Hansard sees HNW sales uplift, targets Japan product debut, 'successfully defends 16 cases'

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Hansard sees HNW sales uplift, targets Japan product debut, 'successfully defends 16 cases'

Isle of Man-headquartered international life company Hansard today (23 September) reported full year new business levels at £173.0m on a present value of new business premiums basis, 8.3% higher than FY 2020.

IFRS profit before tax for the year was £5.1m, up 8.5% from £4.7m in FY 2020. Excluding litigation defence costs and other non-recurring provisions, underlying profit was £6.8m compared with £6.2m in FY 2020.

Each of regions had achieved positive growth, Hansard said, as it saw increased levels of high-net worth contributions being made.

In order to launch with our first distribution partner, we are dependent on the Covid-19 restrictions in Japan being lifted. It is our strong intention to go to market before the end of 2021."

The past financial year had strategically focused on bringing to market its locally-licensed investment product in Japan and upgrading and streamlining its administration systems and IT infrastructure.

"We have completed the internal development of our Japanese product. In order to launch with our first distribution partner, we are dependent on the Covid-19 restrictions in Japan being lifted. It is our strong intention to go to market before the end of 2021. We continue to expect this initiative to deliver significant growth in the 2022 financial year", it said.

"Our new systems are ready to on-board new business from the Japanese product and we continue to work on enabling it for our existing products and ultimately for a full migration by the end of 2022."

Graham Sheward, group chief executive, who was named as successor to longstanding chief executive Gordon Marr earlier this year (10 May), said: "I am pleased to present Hansard's full year results for the 2021 financial year. Our new business, profit before tax and assets under administration were all up compared to FY 2020 despite the on-going challenges presented by Covid-19. I would like to thank all our employees and distribution partners for their hard work and resilience in delivering this result.

We have continued to make progress with our strategic initiatives although the launch of our proposition in Japan is subject to the lifting of the current Covid-related restrictions. Once these are lifted, we believe this initiative can deliver significant growth for the Group.

Given these results and our current financial outlook, we are delighted to be in a position to maintain our dividend in line with last year."

The Group further said it continued to manage carefully its litigation exposures relating to the legacy operations of Hansard Europe.

"We continue to believe we have strong defences against the claims being made", it said.

Exposures from outstanding writs were £22.7m at 30 June 2021 compared to £23.4m at 30 June 2020. Settlement provisions of £0.4m (2020: £0.1m) were made as at 30 June 2021 where it expected to make settlements for lower value cases.

During the year, the Group said it successfully defended sixteen cases with net exposures of approximately £1.6m (2020: nine cases with net exposures of approximately £0.6m), ten of which have been appealed by the plaintiffs.

"These successes affirm confidence in the Group's legal arguments. Our policy is to maintain contingent liabilities even where we win cases in the court of first instance if such cases have been subsequently appealed", it said.

Fee and commission income was £50.5m for the year (FY 2020: £49.5m) as increased fee income in Hansard International offset lower fee income in Hansard Europe which continued to run-off since closing to new business in 2013.

Administrative expenses, exclusive of litigation and non-recurring items, were £22.5m (FY 2020: £23.0m).

Hansard said investment in its Japanese branch was offset by prudent cost management across a range of areas.

"While positive on a marginal cost basis, New Business Margin calculated on an EEV basis was negative 0.5% for the year as compared to negative 0.1% in FY 2020. This was primarily due to business mix and changes in economic and operating assumptions. We expect the primary drivers for margin improvement to be a successful launch of our new product into the Japanese market and the cost savings that will follow the implementation of our new IT systems."