Thanks to all of you who navigated the unfamiliar technology to take part in this year’s AGM. I appreciated the opportunity to take your questions and report on progress against our strategy. If you were not able to join us, you will find a link to the recording in this month’s update.
The business of focusing our portfolio is now concluded, albeit some sales remain to be completed. Our financial position is strong, and we have made excellent progress in reducing leverage, with debt reduction of £1.9 billion in the first half of 2021. We look forward to providing details on substantial capital returns to shareholders as we make progress with the completion of the divestments.
All eyes are now on our third strategic priority of transforming performance, focusing on growth in the UK, Ireland, Canada and Aviva Investors. You will see below that our trading update for the first quarter of the year points to good momentum, giving us confidence about the months ahead, but we are under no illusion that the journey is complete, and the external environment continues to be uncertain. Helped in part by the launch of our new brand, which you can read about in this update, we remain focused on improving performance further to deliver stronger returns for you, our shareholders.
Thank you as ever for your continued confidence in Aviva.
George Culmer - Chair
2021 quarter one results update
Amanda Blanc, Group Chief Executive Officer, said:
“We made very good progress in the first quarter. We concluded the refocus of our portfolio, selling eight non-core businesses which will generate total cash proceeds of £7.5 billion once completed.”
“We are now focused on improving the growth and profitability of our businesses in the UK, Ireland, Canada and Aviva Investors.”
“We have continued to support our customers dealing with COVID, including extending cover and deferring monthly payments for those experiencing financial difficulty.”
“Our positive trading performance in the first quarter of 2021 reinforces our confidence in the targets we announced earlier in the year. Nevertheless, we remain sharply focused on further improving performance, recognising we still have much more to do, to deliver stronger returns for our shareholders."
Read our Aviva Plc Q1 2021 trading update for more details.
2021 Annual General Meeting
For the first time in 2021, we provided electronic facilities to attend our Annual General Meeting held on Thursday 6 May at St Helen's, 1 Undershaft, London.
You can find a recording of the meeting on our Annual General Meeting page.
Developing our Brand
Amanda Blanc, Group CEO said:
“We have big ambitions at Aviva to become the UK’s go-to consumer brand. Aviva is the only insurer in the UK that can serve all customers’ needs, at every stage of their lives. I want our brand to reflect this, building trust and confidence with our customers that Aviva will be there for them.
“We have a very strong brand. It’s now time to go further and ensure we use our brand to maximum effect to deliver our growth ambitions.”
Aviva's partnership with WWF
Acting together on climate change to build a better tomorrow
Through our recently announced three-year partnership, we are advocating to realign the finance sector to a 1.5 degree pathway; working with communities in the UK and Canada to build healthier and more resilient ecosystems that help reduce the risk of climate-related natural disasters; and engaging millions of people to understand the power of their individual choices in contributing to a sustainable future.
Aviva Foundation update
In May, the Aviva Foundation won the Third Sector Business Charity Corporate Foundation award. The judges commended the foundation’s commitment to making a long-term difference while also being able to react to timely needs of charities and communities. The Aviva Foundation is investing Aviva’s unclaimed assets from Aviva’s share register for the public benefit, funding initiatives that deliver climate action, financial inclusion and community resilience.
An example of our funding includes Hubbub’s Community Calling Campaign, supporting people who are digitally disconnected and struggling as a result of the pandemic. They are distributing 1,000 phones with 12 months of free connectivity to vulnerable older people in Bristol. This work is also directly addressing the financial exclusion that often goes hand in hand with a lack of connectivity by partnering with Quids In. They are facilitating information about money management and financial support via the magazine (received with each phone) and short informational videos.
You can find out more about the Aviva Foundation on aviva.com.