2021 Annual Report
Behind every bright future
is a GuardianTM
2021 was the start of a bold transformation at Guardian. Our new Purpose, to "inspire well-being," is a foundation that will empower growth and better outcomes for those we serve.
A letter from our CEO
Dear Guardian community,
There is a saying that crisis accelerates progress. The actions we took in 2021, following the exceptional challenges of 2020, stand as an example. Those disruptions led us to re-examine many elements of our business, and to create a comprehensive plan to make our company stronger and better.
In 2021, we charted a new course, guided by our Purpose to "inspire well-being." Guardian introduced three strategic priorities to activate our Purpose and transform our company:
Wow the consumer, by supporting and promoting customers' physical, emotional, and financial well-being at every stage of their lives.
Reimagine mutuality, by broadening the array of stakeholders we serve and supporting their well-being in new ways.
Unleash what's possible, by fostering a culture of belonging that encourages innovation and builds community.
For over 160 years, we have provided financial security to our policyholders, a commitment that will never waver. We are evolving our business in ways that will expand how we serve our policyholders and their beneficiaries, better address colleagues’ needs, and strengthen our bonds with our stakeholders and everyone whose lives we touch.
Our transformational vision and the steps we're taking to implement it are ambitious and will enable us to grow and thrive in the years ahead.
Doreen Gidali: A life and career reclaimed with Guardian's help
Virginia and Guardian are an amazing resource. I wouldn't be where I am today without them.”
Dr. Doreen Gidali - Epidemiologist
Few stories of personal revival are as inspiring as Dr. Doreen Gidali's. Or as hard-won. Her triumph over adversity, says Doreen, owes a lot to Virginia Harris, a vocational rehabilitation specialist at Guardian. Her ordeal started during her second year after medical school. Born in Kenya and raised in Michigan, Doreen chose medicine as a career at her mother’s urging. She was a post-graduate resident when her peripheral vision began to blur. She experienced chronic and debilitating migraines, and was diagnosed with idiopathic intracranial hypertension and ataxia. As her condition worsened, she lost her job, her apartment, and — most uncharacteristic for the ebullient lover of life — hope.
Surgery eased some symptoms, but her cognitive abilities and motor skills remained weak. A therapist she was seeing told her the key to finding her old self lay inside her — she just had to access it. "That gave me hope," Doreen says. "But Virginia taught me how to access it. She gave me the power to reach back and tap those things."
Doreen met Virginia through a nurse at Guardian, her disability insurer, and the rehabilitation specialist mapped a step-by-step, personalized program to recovery. The program started with simple goals like strengthening her concentration and stamina and progressed to pursuit of a new job in epidemiology. Virginia helped her enroll in statistics classes, complete job applications, and prepare for interviews. Through persistence and dedication, Doreen won a job in her new field at a major health center. She is thrilled.
Business strategy and transformation
We believe that dedicating ourselves to protecting and enhancing the well-being of all stakeholders will position us to grow and deliver superior value for decades to come.
Wow the consumer
Unleash what's possible
Wow the consumer means enabling customers' physical, emotional, and financial well-being at every stage of life.
Previously, the scope of our policies extended beyond classic life insurance to include dental, vision, disability and long-term care, as well as customized support for families with special needs. To surprise and delight existing customers, and engage new ones going forward, we are expanding that product set, enhancing our consumer-facing capabilities and digital platform, and taking steps to build deeper and broader relationships with those we serve.
Where we've come, where we're going:
In 2021 we significantly upgraded our digital E-Suite platform, making it easier to buy our products remotely, and accelerated plans to create a unified, end-to-end digital experience for customers and their beneficiaries.
Fortifying our relationships with customers and knowing them better are priorities. Through the power of those ties, we will surprise and delight them by creating experiences that celebrate their happiest moments and support them through their most challenging moments.
Our second imperative, reimagine mutuality, means taking a more expansive view of the concept of mutuality.
Beyond building stronger relationships with all clients, we aspire to go back to our community-focused roots and expand the definition of what it means to be part of the Guardian family. We seek to forge ties with our clients' beneficiaries, dependents, and families and to better serve small-business owners and diverse communities by developing services that answer their needs.
Where we've come, where we're going:
In 2021 we invested in, and formed a strategic partnership with Spring Health, a leading behavioral health services provider that directs companies and employees to optimal mental health care.
We solicited valuable input from our Black, Hispanic, LGBTQIA+, and other Employee Resource Groups about how Guardian can improve outreach to diverse communities.
In 2021, our philanthropic efforts included strategic grants, matching gifts, and corporate contributions to support community-driven organizations. Some of the organizations Guardian supported include Dental Lifeline Network, NPower, and Team Rubicon.
We strive to unleash what's possible, our third imperative, by uniting colleagues around a common Purpose. That means fostering a culture of inclusion, belonging, commitment, and achievement that will attract and retain top talent while driving innovation and growth.
While continuing to seek new ways to advance this goal, we have made notable progress implementing one of its central elements: our J.E.D.I. (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) program, which we scaled up in 2021.
Where we've come, where we're going:
In 2021, we launched an immersive, and inclusive J.E.D.I. initiative to prioritize social and economic justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion across our organization and make these a cornerstone of our culture.
At the end of 2021, 32 percent of Guardian employees at the senior vice president level and above were women, while 16 percent were people of color.
In 2021, we launched our new Career Framework to establish a clearer link between responsibility level and role expectations, promote a pay-for-performance culture, and support upward and lateral career progression. The program included a change in compensation structure: we introduced bonuses for colleagues at all pay levels so everyone is better rewarded and motivated to contribute to Guardian’s success.
In addition to our customer- and culture-focused objectives, digital technology is another critical success factor for Guardian.
We relied on digital solutions to address service disruptions at the start of the pandemic. Now, we are transforming our digital platform to engage with customers in powerful new ways.
The platform we're creating will be a vital tool in Guardian's efforts to wow the consumer, reimagine mutuality, unleash what's possible, and drive more business.
Where we've come, where we're going:
We improved the functionality of our digital E-Suite platform by adding online applications, medical-record filing, and e-signature options, making it easier to buy insurance remotely. Those capabilities received high marks in customer satisfaction surveys and helped boost sales.
We are working diligently to build a unified, end-to-end digital customer platform for policyowners and beneficiaries, which we expect to launch in early 2023.
Jason Carter: A top producer helps young people get their shot
Jason Carter has always been a top performer — as a high school and college soccer star, and as a top-performing manager and Financial Representative (FR) serving Guardian customers in Bakersfield, CA. But what really gets the soft-spoken Jason excited is helping young people discover opportunities and achieve their goals.
Through their South Valley SURF Soccer Club, Jason and his wife, Shelby, have coached and mentored hundreds of young people — many of whom are children of migrant farmers — and guided more than 100 to college scholarships. Off the field, Jason and his brother, Jermaine, also a Guardian FR, both mentor and encourage young people from diverse backgrounds to consider a career as an FR. After all, it’s work that earned Jason Guardian’s Talent Introduction Program Top Honor Award in 2021, a year after Jermaine was honored. “I’ve gotten to a point where I’ve had some success,” says Jason, the proud father of three sons. “Now, it’s about making sure the next generation has the opportunities they need to achieve their dreams.”
Financial highlights and ratings
(on a consolidated basis)
Premiums, deposits, fees & equivalents
Operating income, before taxes and dividends
Policyholder dividends declared
Total adjusted capital (TAC)
Assets under management (AUM)
Benefits paid to policyholders
$ in billions. 2017: $10.7, 2018: $11.0, 2019: $11.3, 2020: $11.7, 2021: $12.3
$ in billions. 2017: $1.6, 2018: $1.6, 2019: $1.7, 2020: $1.7, 2021: $1.9
$ in millions. 2017: $913.2, 2018: $980.6, 2019: $984.4, 2020: $1,052.3, 2021: $1,128.1
$ in billions. 2017: $8.0, 2018: $8.6, 2019: $9.3, 2020: $9.5, 2021: $10.7
$ in billions. 2017: $71.5, 2018: $73.9, 2019: $79.3, 2020: $85.5, 2021: $90.2
$ in billions. 2017: $6.1, 2018: $6.3, 2019: $7.0, 2020: $6.7, 2021: $7.4
Meeting customers’ needs during pandemic led to new highs for revenues, earnings, dividends, and capital
Our time-tested ability to meet our customers' needs in any environment underpinned our financial performance in 2021. Despite the pandemic's ongoing impact, we achieved new milestones for revenues, earnings, dividends, and capital, while our financial strength and ratings attested to our exceptional financial condition.1
Kevin Molloy, CFO
We had one of our best years financially in 2021, driven by our strong long-term investment focus, sound underwriting, prudent expense management, and earnings from complementary businesses. We achieved these results despite the uncertain economic environment and the adverse impact of COVID-19.
Operating income rose 10 percent to a record $1.9 billion, reflecting our robust investment returns and revenue growth. Guardian's premiums increased sharply, driven by a 35 percent rise in renewals and life insurance sales due to increased customer outreach.
Our superior value to our customers depends on our strong financial foundation. We ended the year with $10.7 billion in capital, 13 percent more than in 2020 and an all-time record for Guardian.
Ratings agencies are responsible for gauging the financial strength of companies so that investors, policyholders, or partners can work with the facts. Exemplary ratings indicate that a company can honor its financial commitments and pay its claims. Guardian continues to receive high ratings across the board, a position the company has occupied for many years.
Cressey & Co.: Elevating the quality of children’s dental care
Until recently, there were no standardized metrics to gauge the quality of treatment and patient outcomes in dental care. That changed when Guardian, in partnership with Cressey & Co. (“Cressey”), a healthcare-focused private equity firm, backed D4C Dental Brands, Inc. (“D4C”), a pediatric dental-care network set to craft formal standards and quality controls for the dental profession.
D4C developed a dedicated Quality Care Team comprised of its supported doctor owners. The team provides clinical guidance to D4C as it supports dental practices to help raise the standard in children’s oral health. Since 2018, D4C has been working with its doctor leadership team to gather and distribute information to supported clinicians regarding the quality of dental care they are providing to patients and remain focused to develop useful metrics into industry-wide standards to publish quality data. The Quality Care Team has subsequently created easy-to-use dashboards that enable company-supported dentists across the country to compare and discuss metrics and patient results with each other. Now in its fourth year, the initiative has measurably enhanced the level of care provided, with a network comprised of more than 350 pediatric dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons. Guardian is invested with D4C through a co-investment with Cressey.
Cressey is proud to be partnered with Guardian to support D4C’s mission. We are inspired and touched by the D4C leadership team’s genuine commitment to helping to deliver high quality dental and orthodontic care to the pediatric community and remain focused on delivering exceptional quality.”
Steven Dildine – Partner at Cressey & Company
I Squared’s Cube Highways: Transporting people out of poverty
One of the biggest barriers to lifting people out of poverty in rural India is the lack of transportation infrastructure to facilitate commerce and employment. I Squared Capital, one of Guardian’s global infrastructure private equity funds, has taken on that challenge through Cube Highways, which has grown to become the largest independent owner and operator of toll roads in India with 8,800 lane-kilometers of highways across the country. In recognition of its focus on sustainable infrastructure, Cube Highways received the Silver Award in the Green Highways category from the Indian Ministry of Road Transport for its stewardship of the Andhra Pradesh Expressway in 2020. Recent environmental initiatives include building solar-powered toll plazas, the increased planting of trees and shrubs along its highways, creating rainwater harvesting systems and pond rehabilitation at its toll plazas, and installing LED lighting to conserve energy and mitigate light pollution. The company has adopted new technologies and materials for pavement maintenance to improve quality, optimize lifecycle costs and increase sustainability. Cube Highways also supports the local communities near its roads through education — including ten computer literacy labs at its toll plazas or along its highways — that have provided computer literacy training for over 1,700 students. Guardian is invested with Cube Highways through its commitment to ISQ Global Infrastructure Fund II and ISQ Global Infrastructure Fund III.
Since its founding by I Squared Capital, Cube Highways has grown its dedicated ESG team to 22 professionals. We are very proud of the success and recognition they have achieved in supporting the communities near our roads, reducing carbon emissions, and improving safety for both employees and drivers.”
Harsh Agrawal – Partner at I Squared Capital
Andrew J. McMahon
Chief Executive Officer and President
Chief Legal Officer
Head of Guardian Direct
Head of Strategy and Corporate Development
Dean Del Vecchio
Chief Information Officer and Chief of Operations
Head of Individual Markets
Chief Human Resources Officer
Chief Investment Officer
Chief Financial Officer
Christopher B. Smith
Head of Group Benefits
Chief Marketing Officer
Chief Communications Officer
Lesa Kennedy: A J.E.D.I. graduate finds her voice — and a safe space to advocate for change
Throughout her career, Lesa Kennedy has been the only woman, the only Black person — and, often, both — in the room. She has, at times, felt her opinions dismissed, doors closed and opportunities out of reach because of unconscious bias, or worse. But Lesa, a Senior Scrum Master who started at Guardian as a web developer and technical analyst, has experienced change and growth — both her own and her company’s — through Guardian’s J.E.D.I. training program (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion).
A member of the first graduating class, Lesa credits the J.E.D.I. program with her growing self-awareness and sense of empowerment to use her voice to leverage her expertise, process her experiences and claim her seat at the table. “Now, if I’m feeling a certain way about something, I speak up. I have learned to create space for myself,” Lesa says.
This is a journey — it’s not check-the-box, one and done. But the J.E.D.I. experience is bringing awareness to what is needed to create an inclusive culture at Guardian.”
Lesa Kennedy - Senior Scrum Master, Enterprise Business & Technology Services, Guardian
Team Rubicon Partnership: A COVID-19 vaccination effort gets 1.6 million shots in arms
Guardian threw seven figures at a nonprofit they had never worked with, and that was just unprecedented for us. Their employees came through with a tremendous response and such meaningful action. This is a great example of how two entities can come together very quickly and have a lot of impact at a critical time.”
Matt Colvin, Team Rubicon’s Head of Strategic Partnerships
Team Rubicon has dispatched volunteer squads of military veterans and medical first responders to every corner of the globe. But while the storied, nonprofit disaster-relief organization has helped millions devastated by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other catastrophes, COVID-19 presented the unflappable Team Rubicon leaders with an urgent and unprecedented challenge: How to convert their vast resources and skill sets to speed and support vaccination in the nation’s underserved communities.
Guardian, which Team Rubicon had been courting as a possible corporate sponsor since 2018, learned of the vaccination project and went all in. Through a $1 million founding grant, hundreds of Guardian colleagues volunteered their administrative and human talents to support pop-up clinics, process paperwork and sit with the just-vaccinated for the required safety monitoring period. Team Rubicon's vaccination support operations resulted in more than 1.6 million vaccinations in 129 US cities, with especially successful efforts in the Navajo Nation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Portland, Oregon.
Launched our executive-level ESG council in 2021 and completed our first materiality assessment to identify our ESG priority topics.
Decreased energy consumption in our directly managed facilities by 50% per sq ft since 2019.
Launched our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) framework to better integrate inclusion and diversity into our corporate culture, and graduated 150 colleagues from our inaugural leadership program.
Stood up two new employee resource groups (ERGs): Asian Inclusion and Diversity Alliance (AIDA), and Equally Enabled.
Introduced updated corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy to better align our community commitments and philanthropy with business impact
Committed more than $800 million to tax equity investments including solar power and low-income housing. Invested over $350 million in private debt for renewable energy projects — including solar, wind and hydroelectric power generation.
Awarded 2021 Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (sixth consecutive year).
Expand our GHG database to assess Scope 3 emissions and track emissions across our portfolio.
Aim to publish our first report following the guidelines of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) in 2022.
Help our colleagues grow and advance in their journeys at Guardian with our new Career Framework.
Evolve our eight ERGs into business resource groups (BRGs) to achieve greater integration into our strategic business plan.
Relaunch our Guardian for Good colleague engagement platform in 2022 to boost and better track community involvement.
Incorporate climate risk into our overall risk-management framework to identify and act upon climate-related risks and opportunities.
Evolve our supplier diversity program to more closely align with our ESG goals and monitor and assist vendors in meeting our heightened ESG requirements.
Disclaimers & Information
- Dividends are not guaranteed. They are declared annually by Guardian’s Board of Directors. The total dividend calculation includes mortality experience and expense management as well as investment results.
- The ratings of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian) quoted in this report are as of December 31, 2021, and are subject to change. The ratings earned by Guardian do not apply to the investments issued by The Guardian Insurance & Annuity Company, Inc. (GIAC) or offered through Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS). Rankings refer to Guardian’s standing within the range of possible ratings offered by each agency.
- Comdex is not a rating but a composite of all ratings that a company has received from the four major ratings agencies (A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s). Comdex represents a company’s percentile standing, on a scale of 1 to 100 (with 100 being the best), in relation to other companies that have been rated by the major agencies.
Financial information concerning Guardian as of December 31, 2021, on a statutory basis: Admitted Assets = $72.1 Billion; Liabilities = $63.5 Billion (including $51.8 Billion of Reserves); and Surplus = $8.6 Billion.
Financial information concerning GIAC as of December 31, 2021, on a statutory basis: Admitted Assets = $14.2 Billion; Liabilities = $13.7 Billion (including $4.0 Billion of Reserves); and Capital and Surplus = $0.5 Billion.
Financial information for Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America as of December 31, 2021, on a statutory basis: Admitted Assets = $4.7 Billion; Liabilities = $4.5 Billion (including $1.0 Billion in Reserves); and Capital and Surplus = $0.2 Billion.
Guardian® is a registered trademark of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®.
2022-143931 Exp. 4/24