Great-West Lifeco reports first quarter 2018 net earnings of $731 million, up 24% from the first quarter of 2017

Readers are referred to the cautionary notes regarding Forward-Looking Information and Non-IFRS Financial Measures at the end of this release.  All figures are expressed in Canadian dollars, except as noted.

Toronto, May 3, 2018 ... Great-West Lifeco Inc. (Lifeco or the Company) today announced net earnings attributable to common shareholders of $731 million or $0.740 per common share for the first quarter of 2018 compared to $591 million or $0.598 per common share for the same quarter last year. Excluding 2017 restructuring costs, Lifeco’s net earnings in the first quarter of 2017 were $619 million. Net earnings in the first quarter of $731 million increased $112 million or 18% compared to adjusted net earnings of $619 million in the prior year driven by strong underlying business performance in all geographic segments.

“Great-West Lifeco delivered strong first quarter results reflecting healthy sales growth and disciplined expense management”, said Paul Mahon, President and CEO, Great-West Lifeco. “The Company maintained its strong capital position after transitioning to the new regulatory capital regime in Canada and continued to advance its growth agenda with tuck-in acquisitions and investments in technology and innovation across the organization.”

Highlights – In Quarter

Sales of $34.6 billion up 7%

  • Sales for the first quarter of 2018 were $34.6 billion, up 7% from the first quarter of 2017, with strong sales in each of the segments.

Fee and other income of $1.4 billion up 6%

  • Fee and other income was $1.4 billion, up 6% from the first quarter of 2017, driven by market performance, particularly in the U.S., and business growth in all the segments.

Capital strength and financial flexibility maintained

  • During the first quarter of 2018, the Company’s major Canadian operating subsidiaries adopted the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ (OSFI) new capital adequacy measurement called the Life Insurance Capital Adequacy Test (LICAT). The Great-West Life Assurance Company reported a LICAT ratio of 130% at March 31, 2018 which is above the Company’s target range of 110% to 120% for its major Canadian operating subsidiaries.
  • Lifeco declared a quarterly common dividend of $0.3890 per common share payable June 29, 2018.
  • Adjusted Return on Equity (ROE) for the first quarter of 2018 was 13.8% compared to adjusted ROE of 13.9% a year ago. The adjusted ROE excludes the impact of U.S. tax reform, a net charge on the sale of an equity investment and restructuring costs included in the prior year results.
  • Consolidated assets under administration at March 31, 2018 were approximately $1.4 trillion, a 3% increase from December 31, 2017.

Completed offering of $500 million of debentures and redeemed $200 million debentures

  • On February 28, 2018, the Company issued $500 million of debentures maturing February 28, 2028.  The debentures were issued at par with an annual interest rate of 3.337% payable semi-annually.
  • The Company redeemed its 6.14% $200 million debenture notes at their principal amount together with accrued interest upon their maturity on March 21, 2018.

$500 million subordinated debt redemption announced

  • On April 26, 2018, Great-West Lifeco Finance (Delaware) LP II, a subsidiary of the Company, announced its intention to redeem all $500 million principal amount of its 7.127% subordinated debentures due June 26, 2068 on June 26, 2018 at a redemption price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the debentures, plus any accrued interest up to but excluding the redemption date.


For reporting purposes, Lifeco’s consolidated operating results are grouped into four reportable segments - Canada, United States, Europe and Lifeco Corporate - reflecting geographic lines as well as the management and corporate structure of the companies.  For more information, please refer to the Company's 2018 first quarter Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A).


  • Q1 Canada segment net earnings up 24% – Net earnings attributable to common shareholders for the first quarter of 2018 were $316 million compared to $255 million in the first quarter of 2017, an increase of 24%, reflecting expense reductions driven by the transformation program and strong Group Customer results.
  • Canada advances business transformation – The Canadian operations made progress on the previously announced targeted annual expense reductions of $200 million pre-tax.  As of March 31, 2018, the Company has achieved approximately $137 million pre-tax in annualized expense reductions; approximately $103 million related to the common shareholders' account and $34 million related to the participating accounts.
  • Acquisition of EverWest Real Estate Partners (EverWest) completed – On February 2, 2018, the Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary GWL Realty Advisors, acquired the business of EverWest, a U.S. based real estate advisor. While the revenue and net earnings from EverWest are not material, $2.1 billion of real estate assets have been added to the Canada segment assets under administration portfolio. The acquisition provides both scale and organic growth opportunities to the Company.


  • Q1 U.S. segment net earnings up 18% – Net earnings attributable to common shareholders for the first quarter of 2018 were US$59 million, up 18%, compared to adjusted net earnings of US$50 million in the first quarter of 2017, primarily due to continued growth at Empower Retirement and the benefit of a lower U.S. corporate tax rate.
  • Fee and other income up 6% Fee and other income for the three months ended March 31, 2018 was US$500 million compared to US$470 million for the same quarter last year, an increase of 6%, due to growth in Empower Retirement participants and assets as well as higher investment management fees driven by higher average assets under management.
  • Putnam average assets up 10% Putnam average assets under management for the three months ended March 31, 2018 were US$173.6 billion compared to US$157.4 billion for the same quarter last year, an increase of 10%, primarily due to the cumulative impact of positive markets over the twelve month period.  Putnam ending assets under management at March 31, 2018 were US$169.5 billion.
  • Putnam in top ten of Barron’s Annual Best Fund Families ranking In Barron's Annual Best Fund Families rankings of 2017, Putnam ranked in the top ten for the one-year, five-year and ten-year time periods as follows:
    • Seventh (out of 58) for one-year
    • Seventh (out of 53) for five-years
    • Ninth (out of 49) for ten-years


  • Q1 Europe segment net earnings up 12% Net earnings attributable to common shareholders for the first quarter of 2018 were $344 million, up 12%, compared to adjusted net earnings of $306 million in the first quarter of 2017, primarily driven by strong results in the U.K. payout annuity business.
  • Acquisition of the U.K. financial services provider Retirement Advantage completed – On January 2, 2018, the Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary The Canada Life Group (U.K.) Limited, completed the acquisition of U.K. financial services provider Retirement Advantage.  Retirement Advantage has over 32,000 pension and equity release customers and more than £2.1 billion of assets under management including a block of in-force annuities, with liabilities and supporting assets of approximately £1.5 billion (as of March 31, 2018).
  • Acquisition of strategic holding in financial consultancy Invesco Limited (Ireland) announced – On April 20, 2018, the Company announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Irish Life Group Limited, has reached an agreement to acquire a strategic holding in Invesco Ltd (Ireland), Ireland’s largest Irish-owned independent financial consultancy firm. Invesco specializes in employee benefit consultancy and private wealth management and has €4.8 billion in assets under administration. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions, and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2018.


At its meeting today, the Board of Directors approved a quarterly dividend of $0.3890 per share on the common shares of Lifeco payable June 29, 2018 to shareholders of record at the close of business June 1, 2018.

In addition, the Directors approved quarterly dividends on Lifeco's preferred shares, as follows:

First Preferred Shares

Record Date

Payment Date

Amount, per share

Series F

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


Series G

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


Series H

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


Series I

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


Series L

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


Series M

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


Series N

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


Series O

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


Series P

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


Series Q

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


Series R

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


Series S

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


Series T

June 1, 2018

June 29, 2018


For purposes of the Income Tax Act (Canada), and any similar provincial legislation, the dividends referred to above are eligible dividends.

Selected financial information is attached.


Great-West Lifeco Inc. (TSX:GWO) is an international financial services holding company with interests in life insurance, health insurance, retirement and investment services, asset management and reinsurance businesses.

Lifeco has operations in Canada, the United States and Europe through The Great-West Life Assurance Company (Great-West Life) and its operating subsidiaries, London Life Insurance Company (London Life) and The Canada Life Assurance Company (Canada Life); Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company (Great-West Financial) and Putnam Investments, LLC (Putnam).  Lifeco and its companies have approximately $1.4 trillion in consolidated assets under administration and are members of the Power Financial Corporation group of companies.  To learn more, visit www.greatwestlifeco.com.

Basis of presentation

The consolidated financial statements of Lifeco have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and are the basis for the figures presented in this release, unless otherwise noted.

Cautionary note regarding Forward-Looking Information

This release may contain forward-looking statements.  Forward-looking statements include statements that are predictive in nature, depend upon or refer to future events or conditions, or include words such as "expects", "anticipates", "intends", "plans", "believes", "estimates" and other similar expressions or negative versions thereof.  These statements may include, without limitation, statements about the Company's operations, business, financial condition, expected financial performance (including revenues, earnings or growth rates), ongoing business strategies or prospects, and possible future actions by the Company, including statements made with respect to the expected benefits of acquisitions and divestitures.  Forward-looking statements are based on expectations, forecasts, estimates, predictions, projections and conclusions about future events that were current at the time of the statements and are inherently subject to, among other things, risks, uncertainties and assumptions about the Company, economic factors and the financial services industry generally, including the insurance and mutual fund industries.  They are not guarantees of future performance, and the reader is cautioned that actual events and results could differ materially from those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements.  Material factors and assumptions that were applied in formulating the forward-looking information contained herein include the assumption that the business and economic conditions affecting the Company’s operations will continue substantially in their current state, including, without limitation, with respect to customer behaviour, the Company's reputation, market prices for products provided, sales levels, premium income, fee income, expense levels, mortality experience, morbidity experience, policy lapse rates, reinsurance arrangements, liquidity requirements, capital requirements, credit ratings, taxes, inflation, interest and foreign exchange rates, investment values, hedging activities, global equity and capital markets, business competition and other general economic, political and market factors in North America and internationally.  Many of these assumptions are based on factors and events that are not within the control of the Company and there is no assurance that they will prove to be correct.  Other important factors and assumptions that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements include customer responses to new products, impairments of goodwill and other intangible assets, the Company's ability to execute strategic plans and changes to strategic plans, technological changes, breaches or failure of information systems and security (including cyber attacks), payments required under investment products, changes in local and international laws and regulations, changes in accounting policies and the effect of applying future accounting policy changes, unexpected judicial or regulatory proceedings, catastrophic events, continuity and availability of personnel and third party service providers, the Company's ability to complete strategic transactions and integrate acquisitions and unplanned material changes to the Company's facilities, customer and employee relations or credit arrangements.  The reader is cautioned that the foregoing list of assumptions and factors is not exhaustive, and there may be other factors listed in other filings with securities regulators, including factors set out in the Company's 2017 Annual MD&A under "Risk Management and Control Practices" and "Summary of Critical Accounting Estimates", which, along with other filings, is available for review at www.sedar.com.  The reader is also cautioned to consider these and other factors, uncertainties and potential events carefully and not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.  Other than as specifically required by applicable law, the Company does not intend to update any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Cautionary note regarding Non-IFRS Financial Measures

This release contains some non-IFRS financial measures.  Terms by which non-IFRS financial measures are identified include, but are not limited to, "operating earnings", "adjusted net earnings", "constant currency basis", "premiums and deposits", "sales", "assets under management", "assets under administration" and other similar expressions.  Non-IFRS financial measures are used to provide management and investors with additional measures of performance to help assess results where no comparable IFRS measure exists.  However, non-IFRS financial measures do not have standard meanings prescribed by IFRS and are not directly comparable to similar measures used by other companies.  Refer to the appropriate reconciliations of these non-IFRS financial measures to measures prescribed by IFRS.

First Quarter Conference Call  

Lifeco's first quarter conference call and audio webcast will be held May 3, 2018 at 3:30p.m. (ET).  The call and webcast can be accessed through www.greatwestlifeco.com or by phone at:

A replay of the call will be available from May 3, 2018 to May 10, 2018, and can be accessed by calling 1-800-408-3053 or 905-694-9451 in Toronto (passcode: 2153504#).  The archived webcast will be available on www.greatwestlifeco.com from May 3, 2018 to May 2, 2019.

Additional information relating to Lifeco, including the most recent interim unaudited consolidated financial statements, interim Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) and CEO/CFO certification will be filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.comOpens a new website in a new window.

For more information contact:

Media Relations:
Tim Oracheski
Email: media.relations@gwl.ca

Investor Relations:
Deirdre Neary
Email: deirdre.neary@gwl.ca