MMI became the first long-term insurer to report an increase in net profit this year, thanks to a conservative approach that involves investing company reserves mostly in bonds and cash. However, strong cost containment and improved productivity in the sales force also helped the country’s third-largest life insurer to post a 2% increase in net profit to R1.6bn in the six months to December 2018. Other long-term insurers’ full-year results for 2018 were negatively affected by equity market losses. The JSE gave up 11% in 2018, its worst performance since the 2008 financial crisis. MMI peers Discovery, Sanlam and Liberty all reported declines in net profits. These three were, however, reporting full-year results while MMI was reporting interims. Sanlam and Liberty blamed their profit declines on poor equity investment returns. “It’s essentially because of our more conservative strategy, but our new business volumes are up a lot as well. The increase in earnings is a very pleasing numb...

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