BT Reports Six Months' Results

BT Financial Group has reported financial results for the period from October 2011 through March 2012. Those results included increases in life insurance premiums in force, in the value of new sales and in gross written premiums (GWP) for general insurance.

Life insurance premiums in force also increased for the most recent six months, growing to $540 million from $469 million for last year’s comparable period.

New sales increased dramatically, reaching $75 million, a 47% increase over the previous sales total of $540 million. At the same time, lapses grew $3 million, from $31 million to $34 million.

In life insurance, GWP rose from $156 million to $170 million. Mortgage insurance GWP also increased, from $26 million to $32 million, a gain of 23%.

Loss rations were mixed. In life insurance, loss ratios held steady at 30%, while general insurance loss ratios fell from 118% to 99%. Meanwhile, mortgage insurance loss ratios more than doubled, rising to 30% from 12%.

Cash earnings for BT Financial Group were reported at $294 million, a 19 percent decrease from earnings for the comparable previous period.

BT Financial Group is a part of the Westpac Group and incorporates a number of brands within its structure, including St. George Financial Planning, Insurance and Private Clients as a result of a 2008 merger between Westpac and St. George. BT Financial Group derives its name from its history as part of Bankers Trust Australia, when it was known as BT Funds Management. According to the company, the 2008 merger made it one of Australia’s largest wealth management firms. Westpac, for its part, is the oldest bank in Australia, first chartered in 1817 as the Bank of New South Wales. It retained that name until 1982, when it acquired the Commercial Bank of Australia and the combined operation became Westpac. Since then, it has continued to expand its business, largely through acquisitions in the wealth management business, a strategy that was part of what the company calls "a strategic reshaping" that began with the sale of Australian Guarantee Corporation Limited to GE Australia.

Gail Kelly, Westpac's CEO, addressed the fall in cash earnings by explaining that the decrease stemmed from the "derisking" of the company’s lender’s mortgage insurance portfolio. Derisking has been a prominent part of financial discussions over the past several years, becoming a more common strategic consideration in light of increased market volatility over that same period of time.

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