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Train tracks in Shibaura business area of Tokyo

Innovating with data and technology

Digital transformation

Digital innovation is central to our enterprise strategy. We use data and technology to help customers make informed decisions. We continue to advance our digital capabilities so we can make it easier for more people around the world access to our products, education, and tools, enabling them to achieve greater financial security. And we build security access into everything we do.

Our data and digital transformation strategy is focused on investing in:

Seamless and personalized customer experiences with secure access

Foundational capabilities such as cloud, artificial intelligence, and machine learning

Growth-enabling infrastructure, innovation, and skills

Our enterprise strategy was built around the needs of our customers. And our ongoing investment in modernizing our technology allows us to quickly bring features and experiences to market that safely and securely meet our customers' changing needs.

Continuous learning and upskilling

Like most companies going through the pandemic, we're increasing our investment in technology as the demand for digital-first solutions from customers grows and to keep up with changes across the industry. We've increased our commitment to upskill our technology teams—through centralized training, experiential and hands-on learning opportunities, aggressive certification goals, and building a culture of continuous learning.

Being cloud-first is an important capability to enable us to move quickly and adapt. To support that, in April we launched a cloud enablement talent program in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build cloud skills across our technology community and help us more quickly deliver and test solutions.

In 2021
1,850 employees participated in instructor-led and digital training courses in 2021
We offered 65 AWS and Principal led training events, with an attendence of 8,946.

In addition, we engage employees through AWS Skills Guild, hackathons, immersion days, our annual technology conference, and regular lunch & learn sessions. We have a community and culture of innovation at Principal, which continues to fuel a sense of accomplishment and excitement across teams to help achieve business goals.

An arrow pointing up signifying a 305 percent increase in AWS-certified staff between 2019 and 2021
An arrow pointing up signifying a 263 percent increase in AWS sandbox accounts since April 2021

Cloud-enabled success

Our commitment to being cloud-first is already paying off for our customers. A few examples of this success in 2021 include:


As we integrated the Trust and Custody business we recently acquired, we realized the transactional volume would overwhelm our old Treasury Payment interface. Leveraging new skills and the AWS platform, we re-engineered the solution to cut the time needed to load transactions by 95%—a significant performance improvement that meant we could more than accommodate the new transaction volumes coming our way.


We've built predictive models to fuel improved business decision-making through automation in our retirement business and used natural language processing to connect potential customers seamlessly and digitally with relevant offerings in our United States benefits and protection business.


During an AWS hackathon, a group of Principal interns with little to no experience using cloud technology completed a data project in nine weeks when we'd previously estimated it would take an experienced Agile team six months to do the same task.


As part of our strategy in fast-growing markets, we’re teaming with well-known third-party digital platforms. Our work with them is made possible by, and expedited via, the cloud.

Digital platforms for retail

Digital distribution will continue to be a fundamental and increasingly important part of our strategy to serve existing customers and reach new ones, while also improving profitability. In some instances, digital can enable a direct connection with customers. In many other instances it complements our traditional channels and sales/service teams. The COVID-19 pandemic only sharpened our focus on the importance of digital distribution channels.

Our emerging markets provide a great example. We entered 2020 with roughly 70% of our emerging-market distribution through traditional channels and 30% through digital channels. As the pandemic impacted our ability to meet in person and demand for digital solutions increased, our investments in these solutions became even more important. By 2025, we anticipate our emerging market distribution to be roughly 65% digital channels and 35% traditional channels. However, in select markets and for certain products, we’ve already realized that shift. For example, just a few years ago in Chile, customers would have had to visit a branch office to open an account. Now, for specific products, that can all be done online.



16 million

of our 24 million active retail customers




(RMB 166.7 billion)


up 218%

as of Dec. 31, 2021




This first-in-the-market eWallet solution helps customers grow their eWallet cash balances by providing them with liquidity and income they can use toward everyday purchases.




in one year as we have through traditional channels since 2003


2 million


Using data analytics to benefit clients

Our increased digital investment includes expanding our data analytics capabilities to help deliver improved outcomes for our customers. Two examples within our global asset management business include:

Investment models

We leveraged data science capabilities to enhance the skills and reach of our investment teams, giving them the analytical power and speed to better navigate global market volatility. This work pinpoints key areas of interest for analysts and portfolio managers, helping them move more quickly and spend their time on complex portfolio decisions. This is critical, as an active manager, in achieving client outcomes Today, $45 billion in assets are managed by teams that use this analyst cockpit technology.


Clients demand a more personalized experience. To meet this need, we thoughtfully combine the expertise of our distribution teams with digital intelligence. Through machine learning we can more quickly align our investment solutions with the needs of our clients—honing in on products clients have interest in or where they may have gaps in their portfolios.

More to come

Our digital transformation is core to our ability to deliver on our strategy, and we’re energized by the opportunities ahead. We’re in the midst of a significant modernization effort, transforming our ability to compete and win in increasingly competitive markets. And we’re investing in training and recruit top talent that will enable more digital-first solutions and a compelling customer experience.