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Life Assurance Profitability, Performance and Prospects

  • J. Plymen and D. L. Woodward


The Authors apply their experience, as former life assurance managers, to develop new methods of investment analysis of life assurance shares.

Monitoring the profitability, per unit of with profit premiums, shows how improving investment performance mitigates the adverse effect on bonuses and shareholders' earnings of the heavy new business needed to maintain the business in times of inflation. Studies of likely investment performance are made, in an attempt to forecast bonuses and dividends over the next 3 years. These methods are demonstrated practically, using the figures from the published accounts of five U.K. life offices from 1976 to 1978.

If more time and space had been available, the Authors would have liked to apply these methods to the analysis of Accounts and D.O.T. Returns of all significant U.K. life offices, proprietary, mutual and composite, that publish annual valuations. Life office managers would then be able to compare their own profitability, investment performance and bonus prospects with those of their principal competitors. In addition insurance brokers would be enabled to assess likely future results for prospective policyholders from competing life offices in a more reliable and rigorous way than is done at present, using merely historical bonus records.

The Authors have to admit that application of their techniques, although achieving considerable success with these varied objectives, is handicapped by the poor quality of life assurance Accounts and Returns. At present offices with a large group pensions component cannot be analysed, because the format of the D.O.T. Returns for this class of business is out of date and inadequate. They would like to see life office accounting methods improved, and they make some specific suggestions to this effect. In addition, detailed comments on the standard of presentation of the D.O.T. Returns are given in the Appendix, together with suggestions for improving these Returns.



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