The global economy moved toward recovery in 2021 as the pace of vaccination against COVID-19 accelerated in major countries and people’s lives gradually returned to normal. Taiwan’s financial holding companies had a strong year overall, setting new records. Fubon Financial Holdings’ net income hit a new high of NT$144.56 billion, and its earnings per share of NT$12.49 led the sector for the 13th consecutive year. Consolidated total assets surpassed NT$10 trillion.
Beyond deepening its presence in Taiwan, Fubon Financial Holdings has steadily forged a regional network aimed at providing customers a comprehensive portfolio of financial services. In the post-pandemic era, we expect digital finance to be at the forefront of the financial sector’s development, and intend to harness it to sustain innovation, forge a robust financial ecosystem for daily living, and further promote financial inclusion.
We achieved a major milestone in 2021 by acquiring Jih Sun Financial Holding Co., Ltd., paving the way for Taiwan’s first ever merger of domestic financial holding companies. The move should bolster Fubon’s banking and securities businesses and lead to greater synergies within the organization. In the broader Greater China area, we have banking, insurance, and asset management operations and are forging a diversified financial services platform though the integration of group resources that will eventually extend to other parts of Asia. Fubon also continues to explore M&A opportunities as we move steadily closer to our vision of becoming one of Asia’s first-class financial institutions.
Financial Sector Leader in EPS 13 Years in a Row
In 2021, a major COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan in May led to restrictions on people’s movements that affected domestic demand and employment in the second and third quarters, but robust trade growth propelled by soaring demand from advanced economies more than offset the slowdown in private consumption. Bolstered by stronger-than-expected net export and private investment growth, Taiwan’s economy expanded in 2021, outperforming most other countries.
Though Taiwan’s financial sector was affected by the pandemic during the year, it still delivered impressive growth, and Fubon Financial Holdings and its subsidiaries successfully navigated the constantly shifting operating environment to generate strong results. Net income was a record NT$144.56 billion in 2021, with Fubon Life and Taipei Fubon Bank accounting for 84% of the total, and EPS of NT$12.49 led all financial holding companies for the 13th consecutive year. Return on assets and return on equity were 1.49% and 16.88%, respectively.
Consolidated assets also set a new high, exceeding NT$10 trillion for the first time. As of the end of the year, Fubon Financial Holdings had total assets of NT$10.50 trillion, up 14% from the end of 2020, to remain Taiwan’s second-largest financial holding company by assets.
Fubon Life: Strong Performance, Record Profit
The life insurance market still felt the effects of the pandemic in 2021, but an improved economic environment and booming capital markets drove growth in investment-linked policies, strengthening life insurers’ overall results. Fubon Life continued to generate solid results through its flexible product and channel diversification strategies. First-year premium of NT$127.03 billion and total premium of NT$450.50 billion both ranked second in the industry. Consolidated assets totaled NT$5.7 trillion as of the end of the year, and net income was NT$102.27 billion, both record highs for the company, further establishing it as a key profit engine for Fubon Financial Holdings.
Fubon Life continues to roll out InsurTech innovations and applications to deliver customer-centric services. Among them: a VIP video conferencing insurance platform combining Mobile ID, electronic signature, and mobile payment functions and an e-transfer verification mechanism to secure the remote insurance purchase process; and the industry’s first insurance premium payment system through cards bound to LINE Pay in partnership with Taipei Fubon Bank and LINE Pay. ESG initiatives have included policy loans to provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic and e-notifications to cut carbon emissions.
Overseas, Fubon Life’s Vietnam subsidiary solidified its agency team and developed multi-channels to scale up its business, while Fubon Hyundai Life Insurance continued to focus on increasing sales of protection-oriented policies and developing brokerage channels. The Hong Kong subsidiary moved toward a model of stable growth by concentrating on building bancassurance and brokerage channels and developing internet insurance channels to tap into new customer segments.
Taipei Fubon Bank: Building Assets, Value
As the global economy gradually recovered in 2021, Taipei Fubon Bank stepped up its loan and investment activity and optimized its asset structure while preserving its asset quality. The strategy catapulted the bank’s total assets to a new high, exceeding NT$3 trillion.
The bank continued to exploit its competitive edges to create value, for example using big data analytics to discern customer preferences, and then developing products and optimizing services tailored to those needs. Contactless transactions rapidly gained traction during the pandemic, and average daily automated transaction volume grew 15% compared with 2020. Cooperation with e-commerce operators and payment platforms was strengthened to satisfy strong customer demand for safer, more convenient non-cash payment options, with good results. Overall spending with Fubon credit cards grew 10% to over NT$300 billion, and the momo credit card vaulted into the top spot among e-commerce co-branded cards.
More emphasis was given to digital investment functions, with investment experts carefully selecting global ETFs and rebalancing portfolios in response to market changes in pursuit of sustainable long-term returns. This approach helped the bank remain the market leader in digital investment AUM. To support SMEs, the bank launched automated credit reviews for small businesses, contributing to more than 20% annual growth in SME loan balance and Outstanding SME Loan Bank honor from the Financial Supervisory Commission. Treating Customers Fairly principles were also implemented, fulfilling the bank’s responsibility to protect financial consumers.
The bank’s commitment to ESG and green finance remained strong in 2021, as it issued its first social bonds and promoted sustainable credit activities, signaling the determination of Fubon and its clients to support environmental sustainability.
Fubon Insurance: No. 1 in the Market for 40 Years
Fubon Insurance capitalized on group resources and diversified channel strategies to again set a new high for total written premium of NT$50.87 billion in 2021. That earned a market share of 24.6%, the highest in the industry for the 40th year in a row. Net income was also the highest in company history at NT$6.86 billion.
Fubon Insurance remained focused on addressing the different needs and risks of society and companies in 2021, for example devising Taiwan’s first vaccine insurance policy and da Vinci cancer surgery policy to seize on new market opportunities. Partnerships were also formed with Fubon Life to promote anti-pandemic insurance products and with telecom and media affiliates to market a variety of policies. Agriculture, information security, and notebook computer insurance products were conceived in response to government policy.
Advances were made on other fronts as well. Fubon Insurance actively promoted ESG-related products and developed a climate risk analysis model to assist the green energy industry in strengthening its resilience to climate risks. The pursuit of patents continued, with nine invention patents and 12 utility patents obtained as of the end of 2021 and five in the application stage.
Outside of Taiwan, Fubon Insurance operates a growing overseas network that includes Xiamen-based Fubon Property & Casualty Insurance, with service locations in Fujian, Sichuan, Chongqing, Liaoning, and Dalian; and Fubon Insurance (Vietnam), headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City with branches in Hanoi and Binh Duong, that serves Taiwanese businesses in Vietnam and local clients. It also has brokerage units in Thailand and the Philippines, and representative offices in Beijing, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Fubon Securities: Bullish on Digital Investing
Fubon Securities maintained its balanced business development in 2021. Its brokerage business remained ranked in the top three in the industry; its share of emerging market volume ranked second; and the proprietary trading and wealth management businesses again maintained their profitability. It all added up to a record-setting year, with net income of NT$7.06 billion the highest ever for the company.
Fubon Securities caters to customer needs through an operating model that gives equal emphasis to the brokerage and wealth management arenas and relies on a diversified portfolio of products and services. Big data analysis is used to provide precise services and optimize the digital investment platform while stressing information security, and the company also strives to strengthen cross-selling synergies to expand its customer base and boost income. All of these strategies are aimed at creating virtuous cycles and generating greater wealth value for each customer.
Fubon Bank (Hong Kong): Online/Offline Fusion
Fubon Bank (China): Record Profits, Deposits
Fubon Bank (Hong Kong) expanded its asset scale and optimized its liability structure in 2021 to offset the effects of the low interest rate environment. Wealth management businesses, including insurance and trusts, performed well, contributing to strong growth in net income. The bank is known for its diversified products and outstanding services, and has adopted an integrated online/offline channeling strategy to strengthen its ability to acquire new customers and boost its overall competitiveness. Through its online strategies, the bank introduced mobile account opening app Fubon GO to appeal to younger customers and enhance the customer experience. Through its offline strategies, it established an SME banking service center in Tsuen Wan to build its SME client base. The bank’s credit risk control mechanism was also bolstered to maintain sound asset quality.
Facing several challenges in 2021 such as slower growth in China, regulatory overhauls of specific industries, and the increased risk of defaults in the property sector, Fubon Bank (China) continued to focus on expanding the liability side of its balance sheet. Deposits exceeded 100 billion yuan for the first time, supporting loan growth and record profits without compromising the bank’s overall asset quality. The bank has 26 branches in 12 cities in China, mostly in locations where Taiwanese enterprises are concentrated, giving it the biggest network and broadest coverage of any Taiwanese-invested bank. Beyond its wide range of products, a high standard of service, and digital technology, the bank has worked closely with parent Taipei Fubon Bank to meet customers’ needs. It has also capitalized on financial service opportunities in supply chains and expanded its customer base to strengthen its competitiveness.
Fubon Asset Management: Top Investment Platform
In 2021, Fubon Asset Management augmented its diverse line of investment services and products, deepened cooperation with Fubon Group affiliates, and bolstered its digital marketing and online trading platform, leading to steady growth in AUM. The wealth management business benefited from expanding offerings of thematic products, including ETFs focused on Vietnam, core semiconductors, future mobility, genomics and immuno biopharma, and high dividend companies. The client base for discretionary trusts and private equity funds was broadened as well, driving significant growth. Fubon Asset Management’s subsidiaries took similar strides. Founder Fubon Fund Management in China developed new ETFs and active funds, increasing AUM; Fubon Fund Management (Hong Kong) rolled out a Taiwan-themed ETF product line; and Fubon Private Equity successfully launched its first private equity fund.
Jih Sun Financial: Creating a New Frontier
Jih Sun Financial Holdings posted net income of NT$4.08 billion and EPS of NT$1.06 in 2021. At a meeting on Nov. 5, 2021, the company’s shareholders approved the takeover bid by Fubon Financial Holdings, and steps to complete the merger have been followed since then.
Jih Sun Securities is involved in both the brokerage and wealth management businesses. In 2021, its brokerage revenues and profits both showed robust growth, with net income reaching NT$3.54 billion. The wealth management business benefited from the merger, drawing on Fubon’s product strategies and sales support capabilities to improve its performance. On the digital side, the Fubon platform has been the ideal complement to the company’s highly competitive apps and strong social community management, helping attract new customers and spawn new services to deepen the digital customer base.
Jih Sun Bank prioritized stability in 2021, solidifying its existing businesses and customer bases, controlling customer and asset risk, and bolstering its risk provisions. Net income totaled NT$620 million. Under Fubon, the bank has adjusted its strategies to expand the business, including by capitalizing on Fubon’s extensive retail network and comprehensive product line to open the door to new cross-selling opportunities and elevate its service standards. These synergies are helping move the bank toward a new frontier of Fubon-Jih Sun prosperity.
Robust Risk Management, Balance Sheet Strength
As its business has grown, Fubon Financial Holdings has put a premium on risk management, maintaining strong balance sheet strength and a level of asset quality that exceeds the market average. Those efforts resulted in a CAR of 139.36% in 2021, well above the minimum capital requirement of 100%.
Taipei Fubon Bank had a BIS ratio of 14.39% as of the end of the year, an indication of the bank’s strong capital position. Its nonperforming loan ratio was 0.16%, below the industry average, and its coverage ratio of 759.72% remained at a stable level.
S&P Global Ratings, Moody’s, and Taiwan Ratings Corp. all gave Fubon Financial Holdings ratings that reflected its market leadership and its strong financial performance relative to its competitors. The ratings of various rating agencies in 2021 are shown in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Ratings of various rating agencies in 2021
Standard & Poor’s
Taiwan Ratings Corp.
Recognition for Efforts on ESG, Sustainability
In 2015, Fubon Financial Holdings launched the Fubon ESG Visioning Project in line with global sustainability trends. In 2021, we redefined the vision by embracing four new strategies: decarbonization, digitalization, empowerment, and connection. Our goal was to focus attention on key sustainability issues and incorporate them into our businesses while creating value for our stakeholders that transcended financial gains. The revamped approach helped Fubon reach new milestones. In 2021, it was selected as a constituent of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices top index, the DJSI World Index, for a fifth year in a row and as a constituent of the DJSI Emerging Markets index for a sixth straight year. It was also selected to the MSCI ESG Leaders Indexes for a fifth year running, and its MSCI ESG rating was upgraded from “A” to “AA.”
Corporate governance has been a longstanding priority. Fubon Financial Holdings was the first financial holding company to put in an independent director system, and the independence and diversity of its board directors have set the benchmark for the industry. The leadership shown on corporate governance and contribution to sustainable development has earned Chairman Richard M. Tsai an Asian Corporate Director Recognition Award from Corporate Governance Asia four times and a Responsible Business Leadership award in 2021 from Enterprise Asia.
Fubon Financial Holdings’ corporate governance performance was again widely acclaimed at home and abroad in 2021. Corporate Governance Asia has honored Fubon Financial Holdings with an “Icon on Corporate Governance” award for 12 years in a row and awarded it “Best Investor Relations” for an 11th year running. Fubon has also ranked in the top 5% of the Taiwan Stock Exchange’s “Corporate Governance Evaluation” of listed companies five times.
Widespread Acclaim for Fubon Subsidiaries
Fubon Financial Holdings’ subsidiaries reaped countless awards of their own in 2021. Fubon Life was honored as Taiwan’s Best Life Insurance Company by World Finance for a 10th straight year and was named one of the world’s 100 most valuable insurance brands by Brand Finance for a fifth consecutive year. It also received an Asia Responsible Enterprise Award from Enterprise Asia for “Health Promotion” and was honored by Risk Management, Insurance & Finance (RMIM) magazine as the Most Admired Life Insurance Company in the back office and field representative categories for an 11th year in a row.
Taipei Fubon Bank made Brand Finance’s list of the world’s top 500 banking brands and was cited by Asiamoney in its Leaders for Women Survey 2021 as Taiwan’s leader in women as a percentage of total staff. It was also awarded for Best Risk Governance and Intellectual Anti-hacking Initiative in Taiwan by International Business Magazine, Finance Derivative, and Cosmopolitan The Daily.
Fubon Insurance was named as the Most Admired Company in the P&C insurance sector among Taiwan’s top 1000 companies for a 21st straight year by RMIM magazine and the Most Admired P&C insurer among new finance department graduates for an 11th year running in RMIM surveys. It also was named Digital Insurer of the Year for Taiwan by The Asset and honored for Outstanding Digital Customer Experience in Corporate Insurance by Digital Banker.
Fubon Securities was honored by Wealth Magazine for Best Wealth Management and Best Customer Service for a third year in a row and received an Excellence Award for Best Brokerage Service for a second straight year, while garnering an Excellence Award for Best Wealth Management Securities Brokerage from Business Today. It also earned a Digital Service Optimization Gold Award and i-Service Survey Gold Award for the securities sector from Commercial Times and was honored for Best ETF Participating Dealer as a Rising Star by The Asset.
Leading on Climate Insurance, Going Green
Fubon Financial Holdings takes climate change issues very seriously, and has tightened management of the environmental impact of its own operations and its funding chain. In 2021, it become the only Taiwanese insurer to make the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) climate change A List for a second straight year, and issued its first TCFD (Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures) report, bringing more attention to climate change within the industry.
Tangible action has been taken to address climate change. Under Fubon’s “Run For Green” initiative in 2021, it actively guided capital toward enterprises that benefit the environment and set new standards for financing or investing in five high-carbon industries. Several climate-related products were launched, including Taipei Fubon Bank’s sustainability-linked loans and Taiwan’s first third-party certified syndicated green loan. Fubon Insurance, meanwhile, is Taiwan’s biggest insurer of green energy projects, supporting the development of clean energy.
Beyond the financial sphere, Fubon has continued to engage with people on sustainability. It initiated a campaign to plant 100,000 trees in Taiwan within five years in partnership with major domestic marathons to promote healthy exercise and a greener environment, and donated Taiwan’s first electric bloodmobile, which reduces emissions by about 48% whenever it hits the road. These and other public welfare activities have increased acceptance of low-carbon concepts and raised sustainability awareness.
Four Foundations: Positive Influences on Society
Fubon Financial Holdings continued to support efforts in Taiwan to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 by donating more than NT$200 million to six local governments and 21 hospitals.
As Taiwan felt the sting of COVID-19, Fubon’s four foundations remained engaged in carrying out their social missions throughout Taiwan.
The Fubon Charity Foundation’s “Making Friends with Love” initiative to keep underprivileged students in school donated more than NT$110 million and benefited 15,375 students. The foundation’s “Emergency Relief Fund,” COVID-19 prevention campaign, and poverty alleviation program invested more than NT$92 million combined to help 65,028 people.
The Fubon Cultural & Educational Foundation is dedicated to youth empowerment and media literacy. “YoungVoice” workshops have long been at the heart of building youth empowerment, while the media literacy initiative has focused on giving high school students the ability to interpret and appreciate films and videos. The Future Tycoon Outreach Program catered to the rise in home learning in 2021 by producing three animated videos to further promote financial literacy education.
The Fubon Art Foundation remained devoted to embedding art and aesthetics in people’s daily lives amid the pandemic. The Fubon Forum lecture series was moved online as it entered its 21st year, and featured 21 experts sharing their knowledge on four themes—social innovation, art and literature, cultural dialogue, and future creation. The online talks reached nearly 460,000 people.
The Taipei Fubon Bank Charity Foundation primarily cares for the elderly and people with disabilities. In 2021, it held the 10th Artistic Achievement Awards for the Disabled while continuing to promote its other popular programs, including the “Fubon Home Bathing Service” and its “Giving Family Caregivers a Breather” campaign that helps ease caregivers' physical and emotional burdens.
Better Customer Service, Product Diversification
In 2022, we expect the pace of Taiwan’s export growth to be moderate because of a relatively high base of comparison, but private consumption should rebound and become a main growth driver as coronavirus fears ease. Those factors, plus the localization of supply chains, companies expanding production capacity, and increased investment in green energy, should help Taiwan’s economy perform well this year.
At the company level, we expect that the completion of the merger with Jih Sun Financial Holdings and its subsidiaries will bring greater balance to Fubon’s business and revenue sources and result in more diverse product offerings and more convenient financial services. It will also likely encourage further consolidation in the financial sector. Ultimately, the acquisition reflects Fubon’s optimism over Taiwan’s economic prospects and commitment to continuing to invest in Taiwan.
The key strategies and goals for 2022 for Fubon Financial Holdings’ main subsidiaries are as follows:
1. Fubon Life: Life insurers will likely be affected by several social and economic factors in 2022, including an aging society and changing interest rates, along with fiercer competition and a strict regulatory environment. Faced with these challenges, Fubon Life intends to respond by adjusting its product strategy when appropriate, strengthening the competitiveness of its channels, and promoting strategic products to consolidate its market status.
2. Taipei Fubon Bank: Strategies will include building up the bank’s assets; fusing its online and offline channels to enhance the digital customer experience; developing multifunctional services at overseas branches; creating a Fubon digital ecosystem; and initiating an optimal Fubon-Jih Sun integration plan. These many strategies should not only help the bank stay profitable but also create maximum benefit for society and the bank’s shareholders and customers.
3. Fubon Insurance: The top priorities will be maintaining the company’s market leadership status and expanding its range of services; using fintech innovation to support digital transformation; and capitalizing on the development of emerging technologies and opportunities created by public sustainability policies to drive product innovation. Overseas expansion will reflect Fubon’s standards of professionalism and service and center on forging a Southeast Asian insurance platform.
4. Fubon Securities: Key plans involve consolidating the brokerage business, improving the market share of wealth management products, securing major underwriting deals, and integrating the securities, futures, and equity investment platforms to give customers one-stop access to a complete range of brokerage services. Special attention will be given to the merger process with Jih Sun Securities as well as enhancing ESG practices and putting sustainability and CSR commitments into practice.
5. Fubon Bank (Hong Kong): Beyond strengthening its SME activities and mortgage and personal loan businesses to expand its asset scale and optimize its asset structure, the bank will focus on broadening its wealth management customer base and taking advantage of cross-border opportunities created by the Greater Bay Area initiative. Other priorities will include upgrading the functions of the bank’s digital platform, harnessing group synergies, and promoting green finance policies to solidify the bank’s profitability and fulfill its corporate social responsibility.
6. Fubon Bank (China): The top goals in 2022 will be to strengthen retail business innovation and digital transformation, further develop a capital-light business model, and deepen relationships with Taiwanese businesses, while steadily building up assets and liabilities and optimizing the bank’s asset and liability structure. Efforts will continue to be made to ensure that the bank becomes Taiwanese companies’ bank of choice in China by promoting fintech and business innovation and using its advantage as the first Taiwanese bank in China to issue credit cards to provide an unrivaled array of services.
7. Fubon Asset Management: The main priorities will be to bolster existing product lines, including issuing new income and niche market funds based on market trends and investor needs, and increase market share in managing government funds and institutional discretionary funds. Devising ESG-themed funds will also be a priority to harness the positive power of sustainability.
8. Jih Sun Financial Holdings: Completing the merger at the financial holding company and subsidiary levels and maximizing synergies is the top goal. Jih Sun Securities will focus on its core business and range of wealth management products and services. Key channel strategies will include mobilizing resources to strengthen platform benefits, using flexible trading strategies, and augmenting investment banking value-added services. Jih Sun Bank will look to strengthen its core business and channel operations, develop greater specialization, and go more local. Other key goals will be to make the most of cross-selling synergies, improve customer care, and emphasize employee development.
In the year ahead, as it balances risk management and stable business growth, Fubon Financial Holdings will continue to deepen its presence in Taiwan and expand into Asia, relying on investments and acquisitions to expand its financial services network. This pursuit of business success will be complemented by the use of its robust digital platform to build sustainable competitive advantages as the company moves closer to its vision of standing out as one of Asia’s first-class financial institutions.
Richard M. Tsai
Fubon Financial Holdings