It's with great pride that I present this record of Guardian's performance results for 2012
The year didn't spare us any obstacles. The economic recovery continued to stagger and sputter. Interest rates stayed low – a challenge for us as we look to maximize long-term returns to our policyholders. Circumstances in Washington made for an unpredictable regulatory environment.
Guardian responded to these challenges with strong performances across the board,
marking our fourth consecutive year of capital growth. Sales exceeded 2011 numbers in all our product lines. Despite low interest rates, we identified attractive investments that resulted in net investment income exceeding initial expectations, coming in at $2.1 billion. And capital, a key indicator of financial strength, climbed $302 million to $5.8 billion.
Excellent financial numbers directly benefited our policyholders. Guardian declared the highest dividend payout to our Whole Life policyholders in our history: $805 million.
All four major credit ratings agencies affirmed our exemplary financial strength ratings.
There's a story behind these results. It's about a company with 152 years of history that has arrived at a moment of fresh opportunity. Guardian is a company aligned in its business goals and its practices. We believe in the capabilities of our talent and stand committed to
Guardian continues to build on its prominent position in the group employee benefits business with best-in-class products.
Guardian has one of the largest dental networks in the country, with more than 88,500 dentists at 200,000 locations. During 2012, the network added an additional 10,000 dentists – a 12 percent increase.
Benefits Selling magazine named Guardian one of the best dental carriers of 2012. This is the third time in four years that the publication has recognized our company.
providing our people with the tools to explore the limits of who they aspire to be.
We are a company of 8,000 home office and field professionals, all working for the best interests of those we serve because it's right… and because it's how we succeed, ensuring that Guardian is strong today and for decades to come, delivering on our promises to our policyholders.
What accounts for this moment? It isn't simply a matter of being happy with last year's numbers. This kind of clarity and confidence only comes after an organization's abilities and core values have been put to the test.
There's no doubt that Guardian was tested in 2012.
When Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast in October 2012, our 7 Hanover Square home office was rendered uninhabitable by the flooding and utility damage that swept Lower Manhattan. More than 1,600 employees were displaced by the storm. With no office
to report to, many secured alternative work spaces – the local library, a nearby coffee shop, the homes of co-workers and neighbors – any place where they could set up a laptop or charge a phone.
The uncommon initiative and ingenuity shown in those critical first days – and in the weeks that followed – resulted in our policyholders experiencing the same high standard of service they know to expect from Guardian. Throughout the crisis, policyholders were unaware of the extraordinary circumstances in which we found ourselves.
Some of our teams had to be relocated 80 miles outside of New York City to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, away from their homes and families. Meanwhile, the bulk of our home office operations moved into a temporary location at 30 Hudson Street in Jersey City. These were massive undertakings conducted with peerless professionalism that ensured continuity and the fulfillment of Guardian's obligations to our policyholders.
Guardian is a mutual company owned by its policyholders. This structure informs our unique alignment of product development, meeting customer needs, and support for our field team, aptly illustrated by The Living Balance Sheet®.
This innovative service platform allows policyholders to centralize their entire financial portfolio and, with the help of a Guardian Financial Representative, get an honest, comprehensively detailed assessment of their financial health.
For policyholders, The Living Balance Sheet® provides the basis for more informed management of investments, business income vs. expenses, and progress toward retirement and other financial goals. For Guardian professionals, it helps to identify clients' needs and solutions that address them, such as Disability Income and Retirement Solutions products.
The lessons learned from 2012 are worth keeping because they illustrate what it means when a company lives its values.
We do the right thing.
We hold ourselves to high standards.
More than words, these values underscore every instance of self sacrifice, personal initiative, and inspired problem solving demonstrated by our people. Indeed, our values are at the heart of our capacity to weather any storm. For more than a century and a half – through war and recession, across great societal shifts in how Americans live and work – Guardian has marched forward. We have built our company by staying close to our policyholders, alert to their needs and committed to helping them achieve their goals.
When you understand that, you can truly grasp the meaning of mutuality. It's the alignment of our mission and our values, our products and our people.
So yes, we've come through the storm with a greater knowledge of who we are. In short, Guardian is a solid, values-grounded company that, in facing adversity, showed its capacity to excel on behalf of our policyholders. Our task now is to leverage our 2012 successes, and the valuable lessons we've learned, to succeed in 2013 and in decades to come.
Hugo Wesendonck and the partners who founded Guardian in 1860 believed that “a life insurance company should live forever.”
Forever is a long time, but there can be no doubt that ours is a company built to last. Bound by values both lofty and unshakable, Guardian is “aligned” – right here, right now – to make good on our founders' vision.
Deanna M. Mulligan