On behalf of the Sony Financial Group, I wish to express our deep appreciation to all stakeholders for the support and interest you continue to extend as we navigate today’s dynamic financial landscape.
My name is Masashi Oka, and I assumed the role of President & CEO, Representative Director of Sony Financial Holdings, in June 2020. I believe that my greatest mission is to leverage the business foundation and strengths that the Sony Financial Group (SFG) has built over time, to bring about its further growth and development. As a deeply trusted financial services group, we will help create a society where people feel a unique sense of enrichment, by providing high-value-added products and services that closely match the needs of each individual customer, developing alliances with the Sony Group, and leveraging technology.
Response to changes in the environment due to the spread of COVID-19
First of all, I would like to express our respectful condolences for the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, and their families. At the same time, we pray for the early recovery of those who are currently battling the virus. Moreover, I would like to express our deepest respect for healthcare workers and others who are striving to maintain social systems every day.
COVID-19 spread across the globe in a matter of months, affecting our lives in various ways. Nations implemented distinct entry and exit restrictions, and many closed off borders and locked down cities. In Japan, a state of emergency was declared, and residents were requested to refrain from leaving home for nonessential and nonurgent reasons, and from leaving home at night. These measures have inevitably caused a pronounced slowdown in economic activity, and there are fears of a global recession even more serious than the period after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Economic activity is expected to recover gradually, as the pandemic is stamped out due to the untiring efforts of people around the world. Even then, however, not everything will return to “the way it was.” On the contrary, people’s lifestyles and values, even the structure of societies themselves, are anticipated to change significantly with this experience.
It seems inevitable that the needs of our customers will also change. In this context, it is absolutely necessary for us to respond without delay to avoid being left behind by social and environmental changes.
In the life insurance field, for example, we are witnessing an increase in consciousness of protection, wealth-building, health improvement and disease prevention needs, in addition to changes in behavior such as an increase in non-face-to-face and non-contact processes. The consulting services provided by specialized and trustworthy Lifeplanner sales employees, who constitute one of Sony Life’s strengths, are becoming ever more important. Sony Life has also commenced providing remote consulting services. We must continue to ensure that these services, provided by customer-focused, highly professional Lifeplanner sales employees, provide peace of mind even via an online forum, with easily accessible consultation and detailed explanations.
Sony Assurance and Sony Bank have also pursued customer convenience through a direct business model, and enhanced their non-face-to-face services, such as online and telephone services. Now is the time for us to provide customers with the full value of these enhanced services.
We are responding swiftly and appropriately to these great changes, and will continue to take on the challenges to achieve the next stage of growth.
Progress of the medium-term business plan
This fiscal year marks the culmination of the three-year medium-term business plan that commenced in 2018. Under the theme of taking on the challenge of new growth, we have grasped as “opportunities” the changes visible from a long-term perspective of ten years or more. In addition to organic growth under the existing business models, we have implemented a range of measures to lay the groundwork for future growth, aiming to enhance corporate value. The impact of COVID-19, with market declines and the suspension of economic activities due to the declaration of a state of emergency, has been even greater than originally anticipated. Although the targets for some of our performance indicators have become unattainable in this challenging environment, we are making smooth progress overall in areas such as expanding the number of policyholders and users, improving customer satisfaction, and developing new products and services.
Sony Life has promoted customer-first business operations, and increased its policy amount in force by 3.8% year on year, to ¥51.4 trillion yen as of March 31, 2020. In order to offer greater value to our customers, we are working to amplify the unique strengths of our Lifeplanner sales employees by raising their level of service even higher and introducing a system for more deeply assessing their value to customers. We are also leveraging life planning tools and information to evolve our services, to provide consulting sales and follow-up in line with customer needs at any time.
As for Sony Assurance, the number of policies in force for mainstay automobile insurance exceeded 2 million as of March 31, 2019. In terms of sales, it has firmly maintained its status as the number-one direct automobile insurer in Japan since fiscal 2002. In March 2020, it launched a smartphone-only pay-how-you-drive (PHYD) automobile insurance product that leverages AI, called “GOOD DRIVE”. This new product was made possible by applying the Sony Group’s proprietary AI, sensing, and cloud computing technologies, in addition to the insight into insurance product and service development that Sony Assurance has accumulated over its history. Sony Assurance will continue to pursue enhanced CX (customer experience), and actively utilize advanced technologies across a broad range of domains, including products, services, and marketing.
Sony Bank is working to perceive customer needs and enhance customer convenience through a wide range of services, including launching an alliance with the ANA Group in the foreign currency business, entrusting intermediary operations of its mortgage loans to JAPAN POST BANK, and introducing commission-free sales of all investment trust funds, as well as an “English online banking service” targeting foreign residents in Japan.
New initiatives aimed at the next stage of growth from a medium- to long-term perspective
We are engaged in new initiatives aimed at the next stage in our growth, based on a medium- to long-term perspective of changes in the social environment, including demographic changes, globally low interest rates, rapid progress of technological innovation, and financial regulatory changes, as well as extensive discussion across the Group on the nature and sustainability of the business model in each business domain, and an analysis of risks and countermeasures.
Sony Corp. recently implemented a tender offer for the shares of Sony Financial Holdings. By transitioning to a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Corp., we believe we will be able to further collaborate within the Sony Group and generate new synergies. We will leverage the service development structure and corporate functions of the Sony Group for the swift and flexible implementation of bold new management initiatives, and develop financial services that closely match the changing business environment and the increasingly diverse needs of our customers.
We have promoted technological collaboration within the Sony Group through initiatives such as information-exchange meetings with Sony Corp.’s R&D Center, aimed at leveraging technology in the finance domain and solving business issues. The partition separating finance and other sectors has been disappearing in recent years. In this context, we want to apply advanced tools such as AI to change the finance business with the power of technology.
At the same time, we will explore new collaboration with the Sony Group’s entertainment, electronics, and other businesses, and strive to provide even more convenient services.
At SFG, we take care to act fairly with high ethical standards and a sense of purpose, based on our Mission and Code of Conduct. We give due consideration to the impact of our business activities on the interests of our stakeholders, including customers, shareholders, employees, business partners, and local communities, as well as the global environment; we work to build trust through dialogue with all our stakeholders; and we aim to contribute to the development of a sustainable society.
SFG develops diverse businesses, aiming for sustainable value creation. While the activity domains and models of our businesses vary greatly, they all share the qualities of leveraging technology and providing high-value-added products and services that closely match the needs of our individual customers. Through our businesses, we strive to offer lifestyles that feature safety and peace of mind, contribute to a healthy, long-lived society, and make lifestyles more convenient. We also recognize the importance of the foundation that supports value creation. We are working to strengthen this foundation, identifying corporate governance and human resources that respect diversity as matters of highest priority.
Contribute to a sustainable society where people feel a sense of enrichment
The speed of change in the business environment is anticipated to accelerate. We will not be left behind. On the contrary, we will act to spearhead change, engaging in management from a long-term perspective to create sustainable social and economic value. We will continue to respond to the needs and expectations of all our stakeholders, and help create a society where people feel a unique sense of enrichment.
We look forward to your continued support and interest in our efforts.