President’s Letter

The pandemic did not fundamentally change the world. Instead, it brought to light significant risks that have always existed, and further exposed systemic inequalities and unmet needs that must be addressed through co-operative, sustainable solutions.

photo of Robert Wesseling

Despite the complex challenges in our midst, I am hopeful that, collectively, we are prioritizing resilience in our communities, economy and society. I have been heartened by the sense of community that has emerged across the country. We know we can rise to great challenges, when we rise together.

Our clients are paramount to our mission.

In a year when many faced financial difficulty and uncertainty, we returned over $20 million in direct premium relief through our Reduced Driving Refund, in addition to a wide range of financial relief measures. We also enhanced and accelerated our digital offerings during physical distancing to ensure we could service clients during lockdowns, and expanded our financial solutions with mutual funds under The Co-operators brand. Of course, we faced challenges along the way. Unprecedented circumstances led to high call volumes and disruptions to client service in the first half of the year. Through it all, we pressed forward with a mindset of continuous improvement.

Our co-operative identity guides us.

Strong, sustainable communities lead to more resilient individuals. In 2020, we contributed over $22 million to charities and non-profits to support Canadians through exceedingly difficult and uncertain times. We also allocated over 20 per cent of our total invested assets to impact investments, over $2.4 billion in 2020. These investments help de-risk our economy and communities by funding climate solutions, cleaner energy systems, medical research, food security, mental health supports and much more.

Our financial strength propels us forward.

2020 was marked by significant market lows and uncertainty, followed by record-breaking highs. While our co-operative endured significant challenges due to the pandemic, our capital position is strong, resulting from positive investment performance, operational efficiency and solid underwriting performance. Through our financial stability, we can further invest in our clients’ financial security, and in the resilience of our communities.

Our people are our greatest strength.

We set our people up with remote and flexible work arrangements and mental health supports to help them navigate the challenges of 2020, while fostering a culture of high-performance to deliver for clients and communities. We also looked inwards at diversity and inclusion in our co-operative, and are committed to doing the work required to become a diverse and inclusive organization, remove barriers and biases that exist in our co-operative, and help dismantle systemic racism.

Our founding purpose endures.

We exist to provide financial security for our members, clients and our communities. For the complex challenges we face today, we are poised to develop co-operative solutions. We can reach across sectors and political divides to address inequality, bridge gaps, and meet ill-met and unmet needs. We can embrace our values, identity and talents – now, more than ever – to co-operate with clients, members and communities. Through this collaborative action, we can build a more sustainable, resilient world.

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