"In 2021 we strengthened our leadership and we have remained faithful, more than ever, to our values"
José María Serra Chairman
Dear shareholders, employees and customers:
I would like to share with you the 2021 annual report, which presents the key figures and milestones for the year, together with other aspects of our corporate strategy and culture.
This year was the year of recovery after 2020, when the global economy was hit hard by the pandemic. Specifically, in 2021, global growth reached 5.9%. Spain, which was one of the markets most affected by the impact of Covid-19, has recorded an increase in GDP of 4.9% in the year-on-year rate.
In this context, we have achieved a consolidated result of €468.3 million, 73.4% more than the previous year. The turnover has increased by 7.1% to €4.9 billion. The recurring profit of the traditional business (Seguros Catalana Occidente, Plus Ultra Seguros, Seguros Bilbao and NorteHispana Seguros) grew 2.3% to €244.2 million. As regards the credit insurance business (undertaken by Atradius Crédito y Caución and Atradius Re), the recurring result stood at €241.8 million.
We are therefore satisfied with the results of this financial year in our two branches of activity: traditional business and credit insurance business which, although continually exposed to the Covid-19 healthcare crisis, has significantly improved thanks to the risk management actions carried out. Thus, at present, we have standardised risk exposure levels and the portfolio is duly classified.
However, it is important to maintain caution in the face of uncertainties that we can see in the short and medium term, such as the uneven economic recovery; The tightening of financial conditions, accelerated by an increase in inflation, and the shortage of raw materials and supplies, this last point being aggravated by the geopolitical tensions facing the great powers.
In the section on our asset soundness, we have highlighted that our investments continue to be guided by a prudent and diversified management policy with an evenly distributed investment portfolio. Permanent resources at market value stood at €5.2 billion at the close of 2021, which represents a growth of 11.3% and strengthens our solvency position with a ratio of over 220%.
As I said at the beginning, 2021 was the year of recovery, but also of reflection after a turbulent 2020, in which we have had to adapt to the circumstances, as the environment experienced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has revolutionised various issues, including how we understood work.
In this regard, we have implemented a new teleworking model that combines what we have learned and brings together the advantages of face-to-face and remote work, fulfilling three fundamental objectives: employee satisfaction, allowing them a better work-life balance; productivity, ensuring the focus on results; and attracting and retaining talent, offering an attractive value proposition for the employee.
Digitalisation has also given us new forms of interacting with our customers, especially at times as complicated as those experienced during the pandemic. We mustn't forget that, in a sector such as insurance, proximity and customisation are two key elements when it comes to interacting with our insured parties and we have to be able to use technology to continue providing the best possible service.
This trend, which is increasing exponentially, is unstoppable. For this reason, digital transformation is vital for companies, as it contributes efficiency in processes and better solutions for customers; Increasingly, these demand that companies be able to offer simple solutions that allow them to save time, as <!--[if gte vml 1]><v:line id="Straight_x0020_Connector_x0020_271" o:spid="_x0000_s1026" style='position:absolute;left:0;text-align:left; z-index:251660288;visibility:visible;mso-wrap-style:square; mso-height-percent:0;mso-wrap-distance-left:9pt;mso-wrap-distance-top:0; mso-wrap-distance-right:9pt;mso-wrap-distance-bottom:0; mso-position-horizontal:absolute;mso-position-horizontal-relative:text; mso-position-vertical:absolute;mso-position-vertical-relative:margin; mso-height-percent:0;mso-height-relative:margin' from="507.85pt,-10.8pt" to="507.85pt,434.5pt" o:gfxdata="UEsDBBQABgAIAAAAIQC75UiUBQEAAB4CAAATAAAAW0NvbnRlbnRfVHlwZXNdLnhtbKSRvU7DMBSF dyTewfKKEqcMCKEmHfgZgaE8wMW+SSwc27JvS/v23KTJgkoXFsu+P+c7Ol5vDoMTe0zZBl/LVVlJ 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The challenge lies in the fact that the insured party can choose the channel they want to interact with their company with at any given time, without compromising the service excellence we offer them.
In this context, the digitalisation of the mediation network is particularly important, as these professionals are the key figures that offer advice and support to insured persons given their in-depth knowledge of the product and the needs of the consumer. In short, I am one of those who trusts in the capacity that we all have to take advantage of the new opportunities that technology offers us.
In this way, we must be aware that society's greatest demands are a historical constant. Companies are increasingly being asked and need to explain the values they contribute, creating wealth, employment and, therefore, contributing positively to the environment and its stakeholders.
At Grupo Catalana Occidente we write about our social action through the Fundación Jesús Serra, which works to help achieve a better society for all. But, in addition, I believe that contributing to the social and economic development of the communities in which we operate includes addressing the challenges that climate change poses to us, and helping to mitigate them.
Firstly, we want to manage and measure the impact of our activity as an insurance group, although we operate in a sector that is not very intensive in this regard. In our Sustainability Master Plan, we foresee implementing metrics that help to measure and manage the risks and opportunities derived from climate change.
We also work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the European targets of 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The Group is also working to incorporate the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) in our reporting process.
In short, in order to look towards the future, it is good to analyse where we come from. That is why I didn't want to finish without first thanking Ignacio Álvarez for his dedication, and who has ended his professional career after ten years as CEO of Grupo Catalana Occidente. His commitment has contributed to strengthening our leadership position and to the long-term outlook for the family market and small and medium-sized companies and to be international leaders in commercial risk coverage.
Finally, I would like to thank you for the invaluable support you give us in each year, as well as the trust of our mediators. I firmly believe that together we contribute to reinforcing the strategy of Grupo Catalana Occidente based on its three pillars: growth, return and solvency.
José María Serra