The AGM took place on 20 June 2018, held at the National Conference Centre, part of the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull.
In his seventh speech as NFU Mutual’s Chairman, Richard Percy began by addressing the sad passing of Kim Arif, saying: “Before I talk about our financial performance, I want to refer to the recent loss of our Financial Director, Kim Arif.
Kim passed away suddenly at the end of April. Kim had many excellent qualities but for me - there is one word which covers them all. He had integrity. He never put self-interest before the interest of the members or the business.
With those qualities, he was widely respected and liked by his colleagues in the business and in the wider insurance industry.
He played a pivotal role in the success of NFU Mutual over the 27 years he worked with us, and our success over the last few years is in no small part due to Kim’s surefooted management of the company’s finances.
He was also good fun to work with - never short of a pun, quip or joke.”
He continued to say: “2017 was a year of yet more political and economic uncertainty. Brexit continues to be the defining issue of our time. Future food and farming policy is still unclear. As business people… we all know that uncertainty is what we dislike most.”
“It is reassuring to see that despite this uncertainty, the company has delivered another really solid performance. As you will see, we delivered good results across the group.
Our accounts show an overall profit after tax of £540 million - a headline figure which disguises the real achievement… seven consecutive years of underwriting profit.”
“So as a truly mutual society, we share our success with our members. Since July last year, our members have received discounts on the premium at renewal of up to 18.5%.
The Mutual Bonus scheme paid out more than £168 million in 2017, up from £79 million in 2016 and that is expected to grow to £235 million in 2018 – the first full year at the high rate of 18.5%. We have been able to keep the bonus rate at the same level because the strong result achieved in 2017.”
“On the General Insurance side of the business, the premium income we received continued to grow, and in 2017, our gross written premium income increased by almost £90 million to just short of £1.5 billion. That represents 6.22% growth… bigger than we planned pushed on by that great persistency rate referred to earlier.”
Speaking of the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust, Richard added: “The Charitable Trust continued to support good causes in the rural community during 2017, donating just short of a quarter of a million pounds to a variety of fantastic projects.
One of the initiatives we support through the Charitable Trust is the ‘Farm Resilience Programme’… an initiative of the Prince’s Countryside Fund, which offers free business skills training to small family farms across the UK”
Richard closed by thanking PWC, farming unions, NFU Mutual Staff and NFU Mutual Members: “Now, I want to say a few words of thanks. Firstly, I want to thank PWC for many years as our Audit Partner.
Thanks to the farming unions for your support and your hard work on behalf of all our members.
I also want to say a special thanks to our staff. I have talked a lot about the service we provide, making NFU Mutual a great company to do business with.
On the front line, are our agents and their staff working with our claims and underwriting people, but behind them is a hidden team of people that make NFU Mutual function in every part of what is a very complex business.”
“And finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank you here today, representing all our members, for your loyalty.”
The AGM vote was administered and independently scrutinised by The Electoral Reform Society to ensure both accuracy and fairness.