GWG Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:GWGH) Q1 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Aug 13, 2019 • 04:30 pm ET
sheet and expanded access to capital markets to address our cost of funds and to eventually recapitalize the balance sheet. So without further a do, we'll look at 2018 and then we'll look at Q1 of 2019. From a top line perspective, our revenue year-on-year here this is '18 over '17 increase quite a bit really mainly due to a couple of things.
Number one, what I call portfolio accretion was just means a larger portfolio, which you're accreting [Phonetic] income on. And then kind of roughly offset with a lower amount of purchase gains due to lower margins in the purchase market for life insurance offset a little bit by a little bit higher realizations of policy maturities in the year. You can see in our interest and other line for the year the presence of the BEN transactions, which we closed the first one in August of last year and the final one in the final closing was at the end of December. So you can see that show up in the interest and other lines there.
Looking at expenses, the big item really year-on-year is what I mentioned just now is higher interest expenses. Most of the increase in the line items year-on-year in the expense side, G&A was up a little bit, but not much. We did invest a bit into our Insurtech tech around $4 million, but the line of share that increase is due to increased interest expense due to higher debt balances outstanding as we've been growing the balance sheet. Kind of looking down to dividends. Those are a little bit higher than year-over-year as we had a full year in 2018 of our second offering, which many of you remember the redeemable preferred stock Series number two. So that was in there for an entire year.
Dropping into the balance sheet a little bit here. And we'll take a little closer look at this in a minute. But our total assets were up significantly, we've talked about that and telegraphed that, that's really the two closings of the BEN transaction. Our investment sales year-on-year were up significantly that was a record number for GWG and I think reflects -- you know interest in the product, interest in the company, very attractive yields in a low rate environment, but also a lot of interest in the Beneficient transaction and what that can do for GWG and what that's mean for our balance sheet and for our prospects going forward.
Policy purchases $441 million, that's a strong year, we were aggressively buying really the drive through that 1,000 policy mark, which we did in the second quarter early third quarter of 2018. We ended the year of 2018 with just over $2 billion in phase and that represented about 1,154 policies. Both of those numbers up significantly over their 12, 31, 17 benchmark. From a benefits realized perspective, this would be a mortality face amount of benefits. We recognized $71 million versus cash, net