Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer Steven A. Kandarian and members of senior management of MetLife, Inc. laid out the company's plans to increase shareholder value at an investor conference on Wednesday. At the meeting, which followed MetLife's recent assessment of its strategy, senior management addressed the company's plans to refocus its business in the U.S., grow in emerging markets, build its global employee benefits business, drive toward customer centricity and leverage MetLife's global brand.
"Our strategic focus builds on our strengths, leverages our global footprint and capitalizes on trends and opportunities in key markets to drive shareholder value," said Kandarian. "We have identified significant opportunities for us to continue our growth in a way that is disciplined, meets consumer needs and will position us to achieve return on equity expansion."
By 2016, MetLife expects to:
• increase its return on equity to between 12% and 14%, up from 10.3%1 for 2011, with the increase driven by higher operating earnings;
• leverage its scale to improve the value it provides to customers and shareholders, thereby achieving $600 million in net pre-tax expense savings;
• increase business in emerging markets to become 20% or more of operating earnings;
• shift its product mix toward protection products and away from more capital-intensive products, in order to generate more predictable operating earnings and cash flows; and
• improve its risk profile and free cash flow.
"By operating as a global company and leveraging our scale to create efficiencies, we are building a strong foundation for creating long-term, sustained value for both customers and shareholders. We are positioning MetLife for continued growth and putting the company on a strong path for achieving our vision of being recognized as the leading global life insurance and employee benefits provider and a world-class company by any measure," added Kandarian.
To achieve its vision, MetLife has identified four cornerstone initiatives that form the core of its strategic agenda:
• Refocus the U.S. business. In the U.S., MetLife will take advantage of changing consumer preferences, enhancing the way it distributes products by growing its voluntary benefits/worksite and direct businesses. To better balance growth, profitability and risk, MetLife will shift its business mix toward protection products by introducing accident & health products in the U.S. and reducing sales of capital-intensive products such as variable annuities.
• Build the Global Employee Benefits business. MetLife will build on its strong U.S. employee benefits business to help corporations around the world offer benefits, which are an important part of a financial safety net, to employees. The company will accelerate the growth of local benefits businesses outside the U.S. and grow its global benefits business through multinational and expatriate solutions.
• Grow emerging markets presence. In emerging markets around the world, more and more people are entering the middle class due to improved standards of living, which can drive demand for the products MetLife provides. As such, the company will leverage its global footprint and drive profitable growth in emerging markets to meet this increasing consumer need.
• Drive toward customer centricity and a global brand. MetLife will differentiate itself in the marketplace by delivering on a global brand promise and becoming a more customer-centric organization. By developing a deep understanding of customers' needs and expectations, the company expects to achieve higher organic growth rates, improve retention and lower costs.