What has impressed me most over the past year has been the extraordinary commitment of our 190 employees to the company’s new digital and organizational shift. I am very grateful for their sustained efforts in bringing to fruition many key projects for our mutual. As a team, we have demonstrated our ease with manoeuvring in a challenging environment that is evolving at incredible speed. We have strengthened our presence in the insurance industry by increasing our involvement on various committees.
We have also demonstrated a lot of leadership by launching new initiatives such as the Cybersecurity Forum in the insurance industry, the first of which was held last October and attracted a number of industry stakeholders. Security continues to be a priority for us in every projects implementation and in our daily activities, as we seek to mitigate risk and protect the data of our partners and mutualists.
In 2019, we listened to our network more than ever and were quick to consult it when assessing our initiatives as we seek to meet the ever-changing needs of our partners and customers. In this highly competitive financial services sector, our small size is definitely our main competitive advantage, which allows us to be agile in our decision-making and quick in implementing new initiatives.
We have continued to develop our strategic plan, using a simplified, redesigned format that facilitates continuous monitoring. This plan allows us to make quick adjustments based on market movements and drives all our decisions. As planned, 2019 was marked by the start of the construction project for our new head office, and by the implementation of a range of technology transformation initiatives that will support major growth in the coming years. From 2020 onward, we will be able to experience the positive effects of our various projects that will facilitate business development wand profitability.
The new IFRS 17 standard that will shortly come into force will require greater synergy between actuaries and accountants. We thought it an ideal time to merge the Actuarial and Finances departments. This re-organization coincides with the departure of Mr. Carl Têtu, who headed the finance department for the past 25 years. I would like to thank him sincerely for his excellent contribution and, on behalf of the entire team, to reiterate my best wishes for a wonderful retirement.
2019 ended with a major transaction confirming the sale of our mortgage portfolio. This initiative is part of our strategy to improve the performance of our long-term investments. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the support of Mr. François Arcand, who did a magnificent job with mortgage-related transactions for more than 25 years.
We have continued our efforts with regard to risk management by reviewing our programs to align them with the best practices in the industry. We held workshops to involve managers so that everyone is fully committed to the company’s success with the same degree of rigor.
Despite the fall in interest rates, which affected our performance, our balance sheet continues to show growth in assets that are of excellent quality. This year, the actuarial liabilities have been reinforced to account for the changes expected with the IFRS 17 standard. This change will also support our substantial efforts in individual insurance growth, which caused a decrease in our net profit when compared with the previous year. Nevertheless, mutualists’ equity exceeded the $250M mark, thereby keeping our solvency ratio above 200%, which is always one of the best in the industry. These results clearly show the efforts made to achieve all of our goals and confirm that we have both the tools and the capacity to grow and ensure a bright future for UV Insurance.
For our 130th anniversary, which we celebrated at the end of the year, we modernized our image and UL Mutual became UV Insurance. Contemporary and forward-looking, this new image positions people at the heart of all our actions and highlights deep human and personal commitment, values shared by all our employees and managers. This change, along with other achievements, has really energized and mobilized the team more than ever.
I am very grateful to be able to count on the support of an experienced Board of Directors whose members perform their oversight role constructively and positively. We really appreciate the way in which they share their knowledge and sound advice. I would like to thank our mutualists, our distribution network and our dear partners whose loyalty drives us everyday to undertake our projects with energy and passion. I would like to acknowledge the management team, who will take over from here in the next pages, and the whole team at UV Insurance which has continued to grow.
Together, we are strengthening the foundation of a bright future for UV Insurance.
Christian Mercier, OMM, MSM, CD, MDS
Chief Executive Officer