Scottish Friendly’s status as a mutual means that we are not driven by the needs of shareholders. Instead, we are owned by, and run for, the benefit of our members and profits are reinvested in the interest of those members.
Scottish Friendly firmly believes that saving and investing should be for everyone, which is why we have a commitment to offer understandable and accessible products, helping to secure a better financial future for individuals and their families.
We are proud to be one of the largest mutual life offices in the UK, with a history reaching back 160 years.
Our priority, from the outset of Covid-19 has been on serving and supporting our members, colleagues and the wider community. Many of our colleagues continued to work from home during the year, showing great resilience under difficult circumstances that have lasted longer than any of us could have imagined.At Scottish Friendly, we are a purpose-led organization providing products and services that cater for everyone, regardless of age, income or previous financial experience.
Our defined strategy, to Diversify and Grow, is comprised of three core elements:
- Organic growth through our own brand product range and distribution channels;
- Forming new partnerships and launching new products with existing partners: and
- Acquisition and consolidation activity.
This continued focus resulted in record-breaking sales totalling £46.9 million APE (2020: £42.0 million). Assets under management increased to £5.4 billion with our solvency capital remaining strong at 174% and well above regulatory requirements, while member numbers increased from 745,000 to 776,000.
Of the total, protection sales were £25.0 million (2020: £24.1 million) and savings and investments, which includes Scottish Friendly own brand, whole of life and savings partners, amounted to £21.9 million (2020: £17.9 million). Included within savings and investments, Scottish Friendly own brand sales increased in 2021 to £18.4 million (2020: £15.7 million)
Environment, Social & Governance
In 2021 we developed our own internal Environmental, Social and Governance framework with a focus on ensuring sound corporate governance, responsible investing, and working to improve the communities of which we are part. We also made a commitment to achieving net Zero for our own direct scope 1 and 2 (these are direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions) by 2030 and fully across the business and our supply chain by 2050, in line with government targets.
We aim to invest our customers funds in a responsible manner and continue to develop our capabilities in this area, working with our investment managers to ensure the stewardship of our investments is consistent with our ESG aspirations.
The Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour continued to deliver a full programme of ‘virtual’ activity, life streaming engaging and educational content into classrooms and living rooms across the UK, Working with some of the UK’s most popular authors and illustrators, the production of fun and exciting video content has been viewed 150,000 times through social media and a purpose built on demand library hub.
We also continued our relationship with Action for Children, raising £23,500 which will provide support to some of the most vulnerable children, young adults and their families across Scotland.
The strength and flexibility of our governance processes help us to respond to regulatory changes and developments in best practice. We are a member of the Association of Financial Mutuals and support its governance standards. We remain committed to maintaining best practice and to driving continued improvements in our key processes.
Throughout 2021, enhancements to policies, processes and systems have been made to ensure continued compliance with requirements of our regulators the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority) (FCA).
Particular areas of focus have included:
- Operational resilience;
- Climate change; and
- The fair treatment and protection of vulnerable customers
Our achievements were once again recognized with a number of prestigious industry awards. These included Best UK Mutual Insurer at the Capital Finance International Awards and Best Junior ISA Provider at the Investment Life and Pensions Moneyfacts awards, both of which were won for the third consecutive year. In addition, Scottish Friendly won Best Junior ISA Provider UK and Most Innovative Mutual Insurer UK at the Global Brands Magazine awards and was highly commended for Best Financial Protection Provider at the What Mortgage awards.
Our media coverage continued to increase with double the volume of press coverage compared to the previous year across national, trade and online media outlets, in addition to targeted exposure across social media channels. This was achieved through a tailored programme of press activity, including corporate news, consumer thought leadership research, and regular commentary on industry topics affecting everyday lives.
Our strategy continues to deliver for our customers. We continue to diversify and innovate our product range so we can continue to offer products that our members need and value.
Throughout the year we have worked well as a team and in a recent colleague engagement survey, 86% of colleagues stated that they were proud to work for Scottish Friendly, with more than 9 out of 10 saying they enjoy working with their team. To maintain our focus on the wellbeing of our colleagues, we have further strengthened our HR function, launched company values and introduced a new colleague recognition scheme.
During the year we entered into a strategic investment relationship with both JP Morgan Asset Management and abrdn plc. These relationships will provide us with access to market insight, support the delivery of investment returns for our customers and provide additional flexibility in a time of volatile investment markets.
We continue to invest in our business, looking to improve how we operate. We invested in new technology to strengthen our Risk Management Framework are focused on delivering further enhancements to our business operations by use of automation, technology and continual cost management efficiencies.
Through innovation, efficient customer services and responsible capital management, Scottish Friendly is well placed to achieve our objective to provide long-term sustainable growth in value for our members.