French insurer AXA today set lower earnings growth expectations for the coming years in a strategic plan incoming CEO Thomas Buberl has plotted to cope with historically low interest rates.

In the face of falling yields on its investments, AXA said it aimed at increasing earnings per share by 3-7% annually in 2016-2020. 

This is down from a target of 5-10% in its strategic plan for the last five years. 

Faced with tighter regulation and declining investment returns, Europe's second-biggest insurer said it aimed to grow operations in areas such as property and casualty insurance for businesses, savings products tying up little capital and operations in Asia. 

"These initiatives will position AXA to grow earnings and increase dividends, even in a context of continued low interest rates," AXA said in a statement. 

AXA forecast a 12-14% return on equity in the 2016-2020 period, compared to a 13-15% target it had in the previous plan.

"The new plan takes into account the realities of today. We wanted to make a realistic plan," Gerald Harlin, chief financial officer of AXA, said. 

The plan, due to be presented by Buberl at an investor day later today, includes a target for €2.1 billion in cost savings by 2020. 

The French insurer said it would also transform its business model to meet rapidly-evolving needs of customers in digital technologies and would develop its activities in areas such as prevention and care.