CEO Tom Watjen says Unum has plenty of opportunity for growth

CEO Tom Watjen says Unum has plenty of opportunity for growth

May 20th, 2014 by Dave Flessner in Local - Breaking News

Tom Watjen, chief executive officer of the Unum Group

Photo by Robert Burke

Unum Group may be the world's biggest disability insurer, but CEO Tom Watjen still sees plenty of opportunity for growth.

With most Americans and British residents saying they lack adequate financial protection benefits, Watjen told company shareholders today that Unum is poised for future growth.

"Throughout our entire history we have built a tremendous franchise and legacy, and I've never been more optimistic about our prospects for growth or more confident in our ability to capitalize on the opportunities that lie ahead," Watjen said during Unum's annual meeting today in Columbia, S.C. "We have shown that we can effectively operate in this environment by staying disciplined and focused on our business plan, while also taking the actions needed to capitalize on what we believe is unprecedented opportunity in our industry."

Watjen said nearly 70 percent of Americans and 90 percent of British workers lack adequate financial protection benefits, such as disability insurance, and many are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Last year, Unum paid $6.5 billion in benefits and helped more than 230,000 people return to work and a productive lifestyles. While doing so, the company advanced its position in its markets, growing operating earnings per share, for the eighth consecutive year, by 5.4 percent. Total return on equity across all business lines was 11.4 percent.

"We take great pride in the difference we make in peoples' lives by protecting them when they need it most, but with it comes the responsibility of maintaining the financial strength to meet these obligations," Watjen said.