Mot du président du conseil

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The past year was marked by the implementation of several strategic initiatives and business results that paint a positive picture and concretely support our long-term positioning.

The economic environment in 2017 continued to be strongly competitive. Despite a few changes, interest rates remained low and we continue to operate in an environment where agility, creativity and responsiveness to increased regulation are needed. We strengthened our balance sheet once again this year in line with the directions of our new strategic plan, as well as in the interest of prudence and to ensure the longevity of our company. We ended 2017 with net income down from the previous year, an unavoidable outcome in view of the investments we are making in our future.

Nonetheless, we are proud to have achieved, even surpassed, all of the objectives we had set for ourselves, thereby reaffirming our team’s talent and conviction. Our financial situation continues to be exceptionally strong and amongst the more desirable in the market. Our mutualists’ equity continues to grow and now totals $242M.

I am extremely pleased to underscore the significant contribution of our directors who participated actively in developing our new strategic planning guide. A groundlaying meeting followed by several working sessions with senior management helped us gain a clear understanding of the industry challenges while shedding light on the amazing opportunities available to us within the organization.

Through this rigorous process, the Board of Directors approved a number of initiatives so that we would be positioned favourably to stimulate our growth in coming years. In this regard, we embarked upon major technological changes that will be rolled out over several months and will support our growth by delivering high-quality services to our distribution networks. We also began positioning ourselves to become an "employer of choice." Our Board of Directors recognizes the importance of our human capital, and it is crucial that we foster a strong culture where our team can grow in a stimulating, rewarding and challenging environment.

We are also committed to growing our company’s equity to ensure its longevity and thus safeguard our mutualists. With that goal in mind, we have set objectives to ensure significant new business growth in the years to come. At the same time, we will pursue our business development Canada-wide so that we become better known and are considered to be a solution of choice across our distribution network.

We will also continue to improve our governance by focusing on good vigilance practices and supporting senior management. To that end, we have made arrangements to add two new members to our team; our Board of Directors will be growing from seven to nine directors in 2018 and will continue to benefit from broad and diversified expertise. Furthermore, I am extremely proud to mention the recent arrival, on our Board, of two women with a wealth of outstanding experience—tangible proof of our desire to embrace diversity and promote women’s talent within our company.

Finally, we conducted an extensive review of our governance program. This review helped us redefine our committees’ roles and responsibilities. Our directors’ involvement is at the heart of this process, which is already well underway and will continue in 2018. Our goal is to put our committees’ expertise to work for the company and company management in a constructive spirit of oversight and risk management. We will thus ensure that experience and skills are shared to the utmost while concretely facilitating value creation for UL Mutual.

In closing, I would like to warmly thank our colleague Jean Audet whose term as director has come to an end. I also want to thank our mutualists for their trust and confidence, our distribution network for their commitment and support, and our wonderful team for their professionalism, effectiveness and determination in supporting our company’s development and success. I also want to acknowledge the support of my colleagues on the Board of Directors and thank them for their dedication and the efforts they made throughout 2017.

Richard Fortier, IAS.A, FSA, FICA, CFA

Chairman of the Board