Further profitable growth in the core business
Resilience due to financial strength and diversification
Seizing growth opportunities with the helvetia 20.25 strategy
"The first half of 2023 was marked by stability because we were broadly diversified and able to seize profitable growth opportunities, thus achieving remarkable growth and significantly higher profits compared to the same period in the previous year. This was based on the solid technical results we achieved in our core business. At the same time, we successfully established ourselves in new business fields. This means we once again created value for our shareholders in the first half of 2023", stated Philipp Gmür, Group CEO of Helvetia, in response to the 2023 half-year financial statements. Helvetia used the new IFRS 17 and IFRS 9 standards for the first time in preparing its 2023 half-year financial statements. All previous year's figures are presented on a comparative basis.
Non-life business as driver of profitable growth in the core business
In the first half of 2023, Helvetia Group successfully continued its growth by focusing on profitable and capital-efficient areas, such as the B2B2C and fee businesses as well as the Specialty Markets lines. Business volume came to CHF 6,687.0 million (first half of 2022: CHF 6,418.7 million). At constant exchange rates, this marks a 6.0% increase (4.2% in Swiss francs). Insurance revenue came in at CHF 4,293.6 million (first half of 2022: CHF 4,047.3), which means a growth of 8.4% at constant exchange rates.
The non-life business generated strong growth, boosting business volume by 13.2% to CHF 4,200.3 million in total (at constant exchange rates). Helvetia posted gains in this business area across all segments within its diverse portfolio of business lines. Growth in Helvetia's three largest country markets – Switzerland (10.0% at constant exchange rates), Spain and Germany – as well as Austria was above the market average (overall Europe growth segment: 7.6% at constant exchange rates). Helvetia was therefore able to further expand market share in its profitable core business. The volume in the non-life business of the Specialty Markets segment also experienced very good growth (+30.5% at constant exchange rates), primarily due to additional new business. Furthermore, favourable price effects supported growth in this segment, contributing approximately one third.
Life insurance business volume amounted to CHF 2,486.7 million (-4.3% at constant exchange rates). Helvetia's strategy remains focused on investment-linked business and pure risk products. This led to growth in business volume with deposits received from investment contracts in the individual life business and with the reinsurance of biometric risks assumed in the active reinsurance business. The continuing market trend from full insurance to semi-autonomous solutions caused savings premiums in the Swiss group life business to come in lower compared to the same period in the previous year. Helvetia is well positioned for this trend with its semi-autonomous products and risk solutions.
Strong technical results and favourable financial markets
Helvetia generated an IFRS result after tax of CHF 257.8 million in the first half of 2023, which was significantly higher than in the same period in the previous year (first half of 2022: CHF 191.4 million). This good result was based on the robust technical performance of the core business. In addition, a favourable performance in the financial markets was a main reason for the increase in earnings. An unfavourable impact of CHF 26.9 million resulted from the one-off goodwill impairment associated with MoneyPark, as communicated at the beginning of September.
At CHF 215.9 million, the IFRS result after tax in the non-life business was significantly higher than in the prior-year period (first half of 2022: CHF 71.4 million). Besides the solid operating insurance service result, it was primarily the much-improved capital market performance that had a significant positive effect on gains and losses from investments.
In the life business, the IFRS result after tax in the first half of 2023 was CHF 137.0 million, on par with the same period in the previous year (first half of 2022: CHF 140.4 million). The solid result confirmed the strategy Helvetia has been pursuing in recent years that focuses on capital-light investment-linked insurance products and risk life insurance. Helvetia posted a stable release of the contractual service margin of CHF 188.5 million (first half of 2022: CHF 193.4 million), although, compared to the same period in the previous year, the contribution of the life insurance company Sa Nostra Vida, which was sold at the end of 2022, was no longer included.
Combined ratio of 94.0%
The Group's combined ratio was 94.0% (first half of 2022: 92.8%), which is at the upper end of the 92% to 94% target range prescribed by the helvetia 20.25 strategy. The combined ratio proved solid in view of an above-average frequency of medium-sized claims, a few large claims in the Europe segment and the persistently inflationary environment.
Improved new business margin and higher contractual service margin (CSM) in the life business
New business in the life business also performed profitably. The new business margin increased to 5.6% (first half of 2022: 4.2%). This was due to growth with profitable new business in Active Reinsurance and the positive effects from higher interest rates on new business in the Europe segment.
The CSM increased compared to the end of 2022 to CHF 4,278.8 million as at 30 June 2023 (31 December 2022: CHF 3,942.4 million). Besides profitable new business written in the reporting period, the main contribution to this increase came from the positive financial markets.
Capitalisation remains very strong
Helvetia continues to have outstanding capitalisation. As at 30 June 2023, the estimated SST ratio was around 300%. In addition, Helvetia is rated "A+" by the S&P Global Ratings (S&P) agency.
Helvetia pursues growth opportunities with the helvetia 20.25 strategy
In the first half of 2023, the Group increased its fee income by 10.2% (at constant exchange rates), thus seizing growth opportunities in line with the helvetia 20.25 strategy. The driver was Caser's Health & Care ecosystem in Spain. Furthermore, the capital increase in the Helvetia (CH) Swiss Property Fund contributed to commission income from asset management services for third parties. The fee business contributed almost 5% to Helvetia's overall result.
Besides the fee business, Helvetia is also seizing growth opportunities in new business fields such as embedded insurance, which provides access to new customers and creates a basis for further profitable growth. Helvetia has further developed this business by acquiring Mobile Garantie in Germany, which provides bespoke solutions and services for supplementary car insurance in the form of warranty extensions and repair costs cover.
Profitable growth is also the focus of the internationalisation of Smile, Switzerland's leading online insurer. Smile was launched successfully in Austria last year, where in 2023 it expanded its product range to include motor vehicle insurance.
Comprehensive real estate services
A further focus of the helvetia 20.25 strategy is to tailor the company's own offers specifically to the needs of its customers. In order to provide a comprehensive range of services relating to property purchases from a single source, Helvetia is integrating MoneyPark's distribution network into its own sales force. MoneyPark is a market leader in real estate consultancy and brokerage. This gives Helvetia customers direct access to mortgage deals provided by over 150 MoneyPark partners that can be combined directly with Helvetia's pension and insurance solutions.
"The first half of 2023 once again shows Helvetia's strengths: Our robust core business enables us to create sustainable value for our shareholders and our excellent capitalisation and broad diversification make us very resilient. Furthermore, we are successfully seizing growth opportunities. I am very pleased to be able to pass on an excellently positioned company to my successor Fabian Rupprecht", states Philipp Gmür, who, as announced in April, will hand over to Fabian Rupprecht, the incoming Group CEO, at the beginning of October.