In November 2020, I wrote that 2020 was a year that no one saw coming. We had experienced a global pandemic, continued low interest rates and increased market volatility. Many believed that things had to improve for 2021, that the pandemic would wind down, and the new year would bring great things to our industry and economy.
Unfortunately, 2021 presented many of the same challenges as 2020—and a good deal more. While I was hoping for a calmer year, I remain very optimistic about the future of our industry. Life insurance will continue to play a valuable role in supporting the nation’s economy and, most importantly, our policyholders.
I am proud to have the opportunity to lead an organization like Ohio National, where our Mission centers on helping individuals, families, businesses and communities achieve financial security and independence. I am also excited about what lies ahead for us.
In March 2021, Ohio National announced it had entered into an agreement to be acquired by Constellation Insurance Holdings, Inc., a U.S.-based company backed by two of the world’s largest long-term institutional investors, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP). CDPQ and OTPP together manage over CA$550 billion in net assets, including over CA$106 billion in private capital investments, and bring long-term, patient capital and a successful track record in the insurance industry.
Ohio National has a strong history of taking a long-term view to continually ensure we are well positioned for the future and our policyholders and associates are part of a stable and growing company. The transaction with Constellation will provide Ohio National with additional capital and a more flexible capital structure, which will enable us to further unlock growth opportunities and invest in the future of the business while managing market risk and interest rate volatility.
We anticipate the transaction will close early this year. After closing, Ohio National policies will remain in force and unchanged per the terms of the contracts, and we will continue to support and service our policyholders. Additionally, Ohio National will have additional resources to grow its customer offerings, enhance its ratings profile and attract additional distribution partners. Ohio National’s brand, mission, company name, leadership team, home office location, infrastructure (including associates) and commitment to the community will remain intact. Our valued relationships with independent entrepreneur financial professionals will not change.
As we look forward to our new ownership structure, I cannot predict the future of interest rates, pandemics, market volatility, or work as we know it. But I have complete confidence in the Ohio National promise, Life Changes. We’ll be there. Our policyholders can count on us to deliver their policy benefits when they need them. Our business stands committed to providing protection and accumulation products to more individuals, families and businesses. We will work with financial professionals to distribute our products to those who need them. There will be no pause in our tradition of helping build strong communities and supporting business growth and entrepreneurship. We will honor diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our business. We will help protect dreams and secure financial futures.
The future of work
In March 2020, 95 percent of our associates transitioned to a remote work environment without service interruption to our policyholders or distribution partners. Almost two years later, approximately 90 percent of our home office staff are still working remotely. While we anticipate welcoming everyone back to our home office headquarters in the first quarter of 2022, we expect that about half of our associates will continue to work remotely full time or adopt a hybrid work model. We are excited about the opportunity to provide continued flexibility to our associates and are thankful for their hard work and dedication.
Competitive protection products
The global pandemic caused many to consider their mortality and morbidity for the first time. The products we offer are needed now more than ever. Our robust life and disability income offerings are well positioned during a time when we believe there is greater appreciation for these products and their ability to protect against risk. Our portfolio is designed to meet the current and future needs of policyholders while providing them with exceptional value.
We are committed to being easy to do business with and leveraging technology to help us exceed service expectations. Robotics, automated underwriting, straight through processing, you name it! Ohio National will continue to explore and embrace technology and tools that improve the customer experience.
Our 2021 accomplishments reflect our focus on providing value to our policyholders:
- Paid dividends for 98 consecutive years to eligible policyholders*
- Paid benefits to policyholders and their beneficiaries totaling more than $1 billion through the third quarter of 2021**
- Deployed robotics, straight through processing and electronic policy delivery tools
- Adopted accelerated underwriting for life and disability income policies
- Introduced new, improved and competitive protection products
Our diversified product portfolio continues to provide our customers with the benefits and protection they need. We are proud to offer solutions and services that help them achieve financial security and independence now—and for generations to come. [BT]
*Dividends are not guaranteed.
**Benefits paid to policyholders and beneficiaries include cash payments for life insurance benefits, systematic withdrawal transactions on deferred annuity contracts, annuity lump sum death claims and disbursements, monthly disability income benefits and retirement plan benefits.