Leadership messages

Robert Wesseling

Robert Wesseling
President and Chief Executive Officer, The Co-operators Group Limited

President’s Letter

Driven by purpose

Four years ago, we imagined our co-operative on a precipice of change. Looking to the future, we saw a landscape marked by profound changes that would impact our industry and organization. Our 2019 to 2022 strategic plan became an ambitious blueprint to build a bridge to this new reality.

Consumer preferences continue to evolve. Meeting our clients where they are to serve them in whatever manner they choose — whether in person, on the phone, or online — is essential. This evolution has been further accelerated by conditions of the pandemic, and while we faced challenges amidst the disruption, we successfully launched an effective digital platform where clients can obtain quotes and purchase their home and auto insurance online.

Importantly, this does not come at the expense of the human relationships at the heart of our client experience. Our digital transformation enables our network of Financial Advisors to increase their focus on providing advice that propels our clients toward financial security. To support all Canadians regardless of financial status, our no-and-low-fee mutual funds have expanded the investment and wealth management solutions we can offer our clients. At the same time, we’ve increased our focus on meeting the emerging needs of businesses operating in a rapidly changing world.

Behind our progress is the heartbeat of our purpose — financial security for Canadians and our communities. We work to achieve this in ways that transcend our products and services, understanding that issues like climate change and social inequality are direct threats to this security. Through our investments and advocacy, we’re driving positive change. By the end of 2022 we had invested 23.6% of our assets into impact investments, representing $2.69 billion. Committed to going further, we will increase our impact and climate transition investments to 60% of our portfolio by 2030, directing our capital strength to build more climate-resilient communities.

Of course, our journey through change has had its share of challenges, which have impacted the people to whom we owe our success. We must do better to engage and support our people and foster a culture of belonging and recognition as we navigate through the future of work, and bring our strategy of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) to life.

Our financial strength enables us to support our people, strengthen our communities and provide financial security for our clients over the long-term. We have sharpened our profitability and have a robust balance sheet as a result, despite ongoing volatility. In 2022, our strong capital position and net income of $309 million well-positions us to navigate ongoing uncertainty with confidence.

We know uncertainty isn’t going away. We are living through volatile times, and the road ahead won’t always be smooth. Yet I have no doubt the people in our co-operative will rise to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

We will harness the resilience and commitment that has brought us this far. We will stay the course to create the future we envision — one that benefits our co-operative as well as our members, clients and communities.

John Harvie

John Harvie
Chairperson, Board of Directors, The Co-operators Group Limited

Chair’s Letter

Guided by our co-operative identity

Many of this year’s stories were marked by uncertainty. Geopolitical instability, the climate crisis, high inflation, and the pandemic made frequent headlines as challenges in our midst. When confronted by these challenges as individuals, we might be tempted to despair. Yet through our co-operative business philosophies, we gain the strength and resilience required to face them together.

I firmly believe co-operatives are well-positioned to support our communities and the economy through difficult times. We have become very good at working together to develop meaningful, collaborative long-term solutions to complex challenges.

At Co-operators, we are strengthened by a diversity of perspectives that coalesce around a common purpose. Our 46 member organizations bring the interests of millions of Canadians to our governance tables.

Through our employees, Financial Advisors and client-facing staff, we’re embedded in communities across Canada. Our co-operative is strengthened by coalitions, partnerships and co-operatives that span industries, sectors and political stripes. Together, we are stronger. We embrace and leverage our differences, rather than use them as justification to move further apart.

2022 marks the final year of our 2019 to 2022 strategic plan, and in this period, we strengthened our co-operative and reinvested that financial strength into the organization, while also investing in the sustainability and resilience of our members and communities. Of course, we have faced many challenges, and have identified areas in which we must work hard to do better — and these areas for strategic improvement are highlighted throughout the pages of this report.

We made national headlines supporting our communities through devastating climate events like Hurricane Fiona on Canada’s east coast, where we were the first insurer to offer coastal flooding from storm surge.

We continue to invest in the social well-being, environmental resilience, and inclusive economies of our communities, and championed the co-operative movement, contributing 3.9% of our pre-tax profit to Canadian co-operatives, non-profits and charities.

This was also a year to imagine and design our future. The Board of Directors worked alongside Co-operators management team and key departments to develop and ultimately approve our strategic plan that will carry us forward over the next four years. At the same time, we remain oriented to a set of enterprise long-term goals that are aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These long-term goals will help us deliver on our purpose and bring our vision of being a catalyst for a sustainable, resilient society to life.

I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and heartened by the opportunities ahead. Our employees, Financial Advisors, members, and community partners have worked in concert to navigate uncertainty and develop imaginative solutions, and we’ve arrived today stronger than ever. And while we do not know what lies ahead, I am confident that together, we will resolutely face the future, and continue moving forward with a mindset of co-operation.