Our customers rely on us as a trusted partner with global expertise.
CEO Dan Houston
From the chairman, president, and chief executive officer
The turmoil of 2020 was enough to shake anyone’s confidence. The global pandemic disrupted how we work, celebrate, or even smile at each other in passing. We saw widespread social protest, volatile financial markets, and historic turnout in the United States election.
It was a year of continual adjustment. Millions of people lost their livelihoods, and some, their lives. Yet even as we mourn, we move forward with purpose and resolve. We continue finding new ways to adapt, unite, and heal. We’re bridging the physical distance through new online hubs where we stay connected to family and collaborate with coworkers. These shared virtual spaces have become foundational to our daily lives.
Through it all, Principal® stands grounded in our core business strategy: a diversified model with balanced investments focused on long-term growth.
Strength and stability as our foundation
Our company faces challenge from a position of strength. To our customers and advisors, we extend confidence and support—as we’ve done for the past 141 years.
This isn’t the first time Principal has managed recession, natural disasters, or even a horrible pandemic. As a mutual insurance company that evolved into a global financial services provider, we exist to overcome adversity. Our more than 34 million customers in the U.S. and select markets in Latin America, Asia Pacific, UK/Europe, and the Middle East rely on us as a trusted partner with global expertise. They put their faith in us to not only maintain but continuously improve access to financial resources, products, and guidance, so we can better protect their families, businesses, and institutions.
Everything Principal accomplished last year was done in cooperation across our full set of stakeholders. We supported businesses as they realigned supply chains, added curbside delivery, or pivoted to e-commerce. We stood alongside colleagues and neighbors as they demanded racial equality. In partnership with the Principal® Foundation, our company provided an estimated $25 million in customer allowances and philanthropy to people and businesses affected by COVID-19. We waived fees on hardship withdrawals and granted premium concessions and personal protective equipment (PPE) credits to support our customers—particularly those businesses seeking creative ways to manage the impact of the pandemic. Our Giving Chain distributed over 50,000 meals in 34 cities worldwide through partnerships with local restaurants and charities. We supplied masks and hand sanitizer to displaced populations in Malaysia.
At the same time, as governments responded to the public health and jobs crises, we adjusted our own business by enabling emergency access to retirement savings—even as Principal continued promoting responsible saving habits and public policy as pathways for global access to financial security.
New ways of working
Our consistent investment in technology enabled the swift transition of a majority of our more than 17,000 Principal employees to remote work. We prioritized the safety of the entire Principal team and pressed on, seamlessly onboarding 1,600 new employees and adding six members (two new external hires and four internal promotions) to the executive management team.
In August, I stood on the doorstep of an employee who retired after a remarkable 56 years with the company. Speaking through a mask, I thanked her for her service to no fewer than nine CEOs. Her personal milestone reminded me of the quiet dedication visible throughout the entire Principal workforce—a culture and commitment to our purpose that sustained us in a demanding year.
More flexible solutions
We leaned into our strengths to expand our range of investment options, such as a new pooled employer plan making saving easier and more accessible to businesses of all sizes and their employees. Our mobile technologies allow for more convenient portfolio management in countries like Thailand. In Chile, our mobile app became a lifeline to customers who need to efficiently access funds during the early days of the pandemic. We continue to welcome more customers into Principal through the ongoing, smooth integration of our Institutional Retirement and Trust business.
Today, we’re a top-three retirement provider in the U.S.1 and the No. 2 pension provider in Latin America2 because we know how to help people balance savings, investments, and financial goals throughout the twists and turns of life—and not just based on a fixed retirement date.
Assets Under Management3
$807 billion As of Dec. 31, 20203Assets under management by asset manager.
Non-GAAP pre-tax operating earnings4
$2.1 billion As of Dec. 31, 20204Trailing twelve months, excludes corporate and impacts from actuarial assumption review
A more sustainable future
Looking ahead, I’m only more determined to see Principal continue to lead the way as a socially responsible company. COVID-19 isn’t over, but we can’t neglect other important work to help our communities and our planet.
• People worldwide need greater access to financial security through more flexible policy and products that encourage lifelong savings.
• Companies and governments must collaborate to combat climate change. I’m proud that Principal reduced our greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 40% in the last decade—beyond our goal of 30%. We will continue to press on, seeking another 40% reduction by 2035. We’re now among the top 35% of financial services firms based on our A- rating for the 2020 CDP Climate Change Report.
• In 2020, we rolled out unconscious bias training to Principal leaders worldwide. Our diversity and inclusion forums saw a 500% surge in attendance compared to 2019. In everything we do, we aim to promote a more inclusive and civil society where unity and respect for each other is the norm.
• Our recent A+ rating for strategy and governance from the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment (UN PRI) is powerful external validation of our commitment to corporate stewardship and responsible investing. The UN PRI represents more than $100 trillion in value among asset managers and owners. We believe that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors are integral to our fiduciary responsibility and our goal of delivering superior risk-adjusted returns to clients and investors.
As the foundation for all our work, we remain in one of the strongest financial positions in our company’s history. Our balance sheet and underlying investments are high quality, and they performed exceptionally well in 2020’s stressed and volatile markets. Our capital deployment strategy is balanced and disciplined, focused on creating long-term shareholder value. We finished the year strong with record total company AUM of $807 billion—including record Principal Global Investors managed AUM of more than $500 billion—and non-GAAP operating earnings of $1.4 billion, or $4.94 per diluted share. We deployed just over $900 million of capital to shareholders in 2020 through common stock dividends and share repurchases, and we ended the year with $2.9 billion of excess and available capital. We have momentum as we head into 2021, including the final migrations of our IRT customers to Principal, the resiliency and recovery of our small to medium-sized businesses, and the growing strength of our global asset management enterprise.
Just as we strengthened our business in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, we’ll build on the lessons of 2020. So much of the context of our business may have changed, but the content of what this company does every day to protect and empower people, helping them feel financially secure, has only become more relevant.
Together, we continue to overcome adversity.
Chairman, president, and CEO
Principal Financial Group®