Our company’s result remained at a good level also in 2018. Taaleri’s operating margin in 2018 was 33%, and earnings per share EUR 0.76, both at last year’s level. Income slightly declined, mainly due to the weak equity and bond market during the second half of the year, and totalled EUR 72.5 million. The operating profit of the Wealth Management segment remained at last year’s level, EUR 16.8 (16.7) million, and the operating profit margin strengthened to 35 per cent. The improved operating profit was due mainly to lower variable personnel costs. Garantia’s net income from insurance operations grew by 33 per cent to EUR 13.0 (9.8) million due to the growth of premiums written, continued low claims incurred and growth in the insurance portfolio. Taaleri Energia’s projects advanced well and as planned. In January 2019, Taaleri Energia and energy company Masdar, signed a letter of intent to establish a joint development company. In fact, the Energy segment is continually seeking new investment opportunities in international renewable energy infrastructure markets. The earnings improvement in “Other” came from the listing of Fellow Finance.
The year included many successes, one good example of which is the listing of the associated company Fellow Finance. Taaleri has been part of Fellow Finance’s story since 2015. We envisioned strong change in the financial market, and we believed in Fellow Finance’s position as one of the clear frontrunners. This view proved to be correct.
Unfortunately, the year also included setbacks. The private equity fund Taaleri Geo Fund I made a decision to invest in the Höhenrain geothermal energy plant project in the Bavarian state in Germany. In the test drilling, the project’s production capacity proved to be insufficient and thus the project became commercially unviable.
Taaleri has been a growth company throughout its history; accordingly, we must be bold so that we can find new investment targets and grow faster than the market. The finance arrangements-related megatrend is fundamentally helping us; when entrepreneurs, companies and developers of new business models seek capital directly through different financial actors on the capital markets. This means that today entrepreneurs, companies, and developers of new operating models in need of capital are seeking it primarily from the capital market via various financial operators. This creates diverse demand for special expertise in financing. Taaleri has several examples of these kinds of direct financing activities from the year, among them: Turun Toriparkki, Garantia’s multi-issuer bond, and the financing of the Keilaniemi tower building.
Climate change is one of our biggest global crises and it has negative impacts around the world. Making more clearly defined choices for the sake of responsibility is something we must do. As an enabler of responsible ownership, we believe in responsible actions rather than written assurances. We are creating a sustainable future by taking a bold role in energy market transformation by building renewable energy. We can make an impact by seeking out opportunities to finance projects and players that are focused on building a sustainable future. Our operations must be transparent so that Taaleri’s credibility as a responsible partner can be seen and assessed by all.
As our operative environment quickly evolves, we too are evolving while simultaneously taking care of our competitiveness. In 2018 there was an increased focus on leadership. Personnel motivation, opportunities to influence one’s own work and to be self-directed have improved well.
A fundamental transformation of the Wealth Management business model is under way. High-quality, personal service is at the core of our operations. A multi-channel approach, standardization of our processes, and quantitative analysis are the kinds of development paths that will now bring further development to Taaleri’s wealth management. The acquisition of Evervest, Finland’s only robo-advisor asset manager last summer, and the personnel that was transferred with the acquisition and streamlining the customer experience are at the core of the internal change.
An event-filled year is now behind us, and I want to thank all our colleagues, customers and partners for the shared efforts in 2018