Helping insurers understand the drivers of performance

This is the eighth investigation we have conducted into the investment performance and strategies of UK with-profits funds. 


Our aim is to stimulate debate with insurers as to whether the approaches others take may be appropriate for them, and whether their asset manager has performed well compared to peers.  

This year’s analysis covers £182bn of assets spread over 51 funds from 22 insurers — and is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind. 

Highlights of the report

  • 2020 was a turbulent year for investing, with many asset classes and markets falling significantly in value, following the outbreak of the Covid-19. However, by the end of the year, most markets had recovered these losses, with UK equities being a notable exception.
  • As might be expected, this had led to significant variation in returns between different with-profits funds, with a mean return of 4.1%, but a range of -4.9% to 11.4%. All funds have achieved a positive investment return over a period of five years. However, the larger funds continue to generally outperform the smaller funds over a five-year period. 
  • Sustainability (also referred to as “Economic Social and Governance” or “ESG”) considerations are becoming increasingly important in investment management, with almost half of firms now adopting a specific sustainability target or criteria for at least some of their funds. It will be interesting to see how the sustainability approach of firms evolves.

Investment returns by year and fund size classification

Proportion of funds that apply a specific sustainability target or criteria to all, some or none of their assets

Interactive Tableau dashboard

Participating firms have been given secure online access to an interactive dashboard, which allows the results to be analysed in more depth. If you already have a login to our secure BWebstream platform, then you can already access the results by clicking this link

If you would like additional colleagues to have secure access to the dashboard, then please let us know their e-mail address(es) by emailing

Please contact Scott Eason or Daniel Johns if you would like to discuss any of the topics in the report in more detail. 

We’re on our own journey towards a sustainable future at BW. Discover more about our five pillars of sustainability and how we're supporting our clients.

Discover more

Stay up to date

Get the latest independent commentary and exclusive insights from a range of experts at the forefront of pensions, investment, insurance and risk – tailored to your preference.

Subscribe today