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Helge Leiro Baastad: Another good year behind us – exciting opportunities ahead

Gjensidige is in a strong position at year-end 2017. Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are both at a high level. In Norway, we were awarded the Ipsos Reputation Prize, and we had the best reputation in the financial sector.

The year


Gjensidige delivered sound results also in 2017, with a total profit of NOK 4.5 billion. Profitability in Norway was still very good and, outside Norway, it developed in a positive direction according to plan.

We focus strongly on making swift local adaptations outside Norway. We see that joint solutions are not necessarily the right choice everywhere. We are nonetheless on our way to implementing best practice in important areas across organisational and geographical borders.

Work on strengthening our position outside Norway continues unabated. Sweden, Denmark and the Baltics will be reported as separate segments from 2018.

Our banking and pension businesses have now been in operation for more than ten years and they are both strong, ambitious players in the Norwegian market. Combined, they contributed a total of NOK 716 million to Gjensidige’s profit for 2017.

Cooperation with our biggest owner, the Gjensidige Foundation, has also been good in the past year. In 2017, our general insurance customers in Norway received customer dividend from the Gjensidige Foundation in the amount of NOK 2.1 billion. The customer dividend is a unique advantage for our customers.

We have had to live with a continued low interest rate level in 2017. The low level is expected to continue in 2018. A low interest rate level means less financial income and increases the need for a strong insurance result. This underlines the importance of good profitability in our core business through cost efficiency, good risk selection and tariff setting.

Social responsibility then and now

Social responsibility has always been a natural and important part of our activities as an insurance company. Today, we base our corporate social responsibility on the UN Global Compact principles, which we have endorsed. By doing so, we commit ourselves to promoting fundamental human rights, labour rights, the environment and anti-corruption, through our own activities and in companies we invest in.

This does not mean that we will give less priority to what has been our most important social responsibility throughout most of our history, namely to prevent loss and accidents in the areas where we do business.

We must recognise that we are increasingly perceived as an international company with international responsibility. This will make new demands of us, both as regards activities and transparency towards the market.

As a major asset manager, it is especially important that we require the companies we invest in to operate in a socially responsible manner. We base our ethical guidelines on the UN Global Compact principles and international conventions on inhumane weapons.

You can read more about our corporatesocial responsibility on page 22-39 of this annual report.

Changed framework conditions create new opportunities

One of Gjensidige’s most important competitive advantages is our ability to change. We have extensive experience of adapting to our customers’ needs, and will continue to do so as the framework conditions change.

In 2017, we have made targeted efforts to adapt our procedures and processes to new regulations, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

New regulations can pave the way for new ways of competing, and of carrying out service and sales, than we are used to. Like changes in technology and customer behaviour, this can create new opportunities for both existing and new players.

The future will be characterised by an ageing population and increased digitalisation, which will necessitate new solutions, business models and initiatives.

We will address these developments through new initiatives, and be open to participating in new partnerships and collaborations where the opportunity arises. Size and scale will be more and more important if we are to be able to make use of data, technology and knowledge in increasingly sophisticated ways – and be a relevant partner for the future. Our ambition is to develop into an even bigger Nordic insurance company.

Our investments in the accident and health market will continue at a pace that is adapted to market developments. This is an area where we expect growth in the Nordic countries for a long time to come, driven by demographic developments.

Our ambition is strong and clear. We aim to be the industry leader as regards customer orientation in the Nordic general insurance market, and we will continue to create significant value for our owners.

We aim to deliver the best digital customer experiences. We want to be relevant to people’s everyday lives and businesses’ day-to-day operations. Our job is to ensure that our customers are well prepared if something should happen. And we will help them when a loss or accident occurs. We shall still know the customer best – and care the most.