The insurer mentioned this was mainly driven by expense savings and the benefit from higher equity markets, which were only partly offset by adverse claims experience in the Americas, adverse currency movements and reclassifying the result of Central & Eastern Europe from operating result to Other income following the announced divestment of the business. Adjusted for this reclassification and on a constant currency basis, Aegon's operating result increased by 32% compared with the first quarter of 2020".
At the same time, the income tax expense amounted to EUR 96 million, while the profit before tax was EUR 482 million, resulting in a net result of EUR 386 million.
The following statement of Lard Friese, CEO was released here:
"We have made early progress toward delivering on our strategic priorities, and I am encouraged to see this reflected in our first quarter results. Despite the pandemic, our employees remain committed to support our customers and business partners. I continue to be deeply impressed by the energy that they bring to transform Aegon into a more focused, high-performance company.
The first quarter of 2021 saw an increase in the operating result driven by improvements in the United States, the Netherlands and Asset Management. So far, we have reduced the addressable expense base across the Group by EUR 136 million and are on track to deliver half of our 2023 target of EUR 400 million expense savings by the end of 2021. Our balance sheet remains strong, with the capital ratios of all three main units and the Holding around or above their operating levels.
We have made solid progress on our plans to transform Aegon. During the first quarter, we further increased our strategic focus by divesting the Transamerica Ventures fund and closing the sale of Stonebridge.
In our Strategic Assets, we continue to invest in new products, product distribution and customer service. In the first quarter, we gained momentum from improved sales performance in each of our core markets. A prime example is in the US Individual Solutions business, where we grew the number of licensed agents in our main distribution channel by 18% and saw increases in our market share there as a consequence of new product introductions.
We have also taken concrete actions to improve our risk profile, already executing on more than half of our plan to reduce interest rate risk in the United States. Furthermore, we took advantage of higher interest rates to implement a new interest rate hedge as an important step towards expanding the dynamic hedge to our legacy variable annuity block in the United States.
We have made steady progress managing our Financial Assets during the first quarter. In our US business, we reduced the sensitivity of our Variable Annuities business to interest rates, and so far have achieved one third of the targeted Long Term Care rate increases.
While ongoing global uncertainty remains, we've also begun to see the successful rollout of vaccination programs in most of the markets in which we operate, giving renewed hope to many, as we continue on the path out of the pandemic. Our hearts especially go out to our colleagues, customers, business partners and the broader communities in India and Brazil that are struggling with the devastating challenges of COVID-19. Looking to the future, I am confident in the strength of our business, our strategy, and the unwavering commitment of our employees to continue delivering on our plans."