IntroductionOur strategy

As we’ve seen, our operating environment is changing, and changing rapidly. We need to make sure our business is in shape to meet these changes, and that it continues to grow and prosper.

Our strategy is about reorganizing, investing more in fee-based businesses, selling off operations that are no longer core, and expanding in new areas that will bring future growth. It's about becoming more efficient – that means not just cutting costs, but also investing in new digital technologies that will transform our customer service. It's about being a more agile organization – sourcing new skills, tightening controls and improving internal processes where possible. It's also about maintaining a strong capital position, so we're better placed to ride out fluctuations in financial markets. As part of our strategy, we've set clear targets for 2018 with respect to sales, return on equity, expenses and capital position. With this approach, we'll be able to free up more cash and improve returns. We'll also reinvest in our business and give money back to our shareholders through dividends.

Our strategy isn't just about profits and capital. We've set out new responsible business objectives: to help customers improve their financial security and well-being, to be a leader in retirement and healthy aging, and, through our investments, to help take better care of the environment. We track progress against our material issues. This helps us ensure our strategy is advancing, and that we're adapting to the new business environment and continuing to deliver value for our stakeholders and society.

Tracking progress with material issues

Low interest rates

  • Strategic importance:We're looking to shield our own business against the effect of low interest rates – and also help customers protect the value of their savings and investments.
  • Performance indicators: % of earnings accounted for by fee-based businesses
  • Performance: Fees now account for around 45% of our overall earnings; in 2010, that figure was approximately 15%.

New technologies and digital transformation

  • Strategic importance: We're investing in new technologies and new business models to allow customers quicker, easier access to financial services.
  • Performance indicators: Number of connected customers and Net Promoter Score. 
  • Performance: At the end of 2017, we had 4.2 million connected customers (ahead of our target of 4.1 million). Our NPS scores have made significant progress over the past three years – more than 60% of our businesses (where NPS was measured) are now placed in the first or second quartiles in their respective markets.

Increased economic and financial uncertainty

  • Strategic importance: We maintain a strong capital position to guard against fluctuations in financial markets and protect our customers, employees, business partners and other stakeholders.
  • Performance indicators: Solvency II ratio and excess capital. 
  • Performance: Our Solvency II ratio at the end of 2017 stood at 201%, just above our 150%-200% target. Excess capital at our holding company in 2017 totaled €1.4 billion, well within our target range of €1.0 billion – €1.5 billion.

Increased regulation in financial services

  • Strategic importance: We're working with regulators, improving internal processes and controls to safeguard the interests of customers and other stakeholders.
  • Performance indicators: Control Environment Index
  • Performance: Our Control Environment Index measures the strength and effectiveness of our risk controls and reporting. It is used internally for management purposes, but not communicated externally (for reasons of commercial sensitivity).

Aging and changing demographics

  • Strategic importance: We pay out pensions and other benefits to help customers achieve financial security – and invest in research to increase wider understanding of aging as a social and economic issue.
  • Performance indicators: Total customer claims, benefits and pension withdrawals
  • Performance: Last year, we paid out just over €48 billion to our customers in claims, benefits and pensions.