The Birmingham-based mutual, which provides financial services to doctors, dentists, lawyers and teachers, says the performance is down to a higher than average investment in equities.
Wesleyan outperformed competitors including Prudential and LV=. The Pru returned 18.7 per cent last year and LV= produced a return of 15.4 per cent.
Legal & General followed with 14 per cent and Friends Provident with 9.3 per cent while Aviva returned 9 per cent and Standard Life returned between 7.3 per cent and 8.6 per cent, depending on asset mix.
Wesleyan investment director Mike Lewis says: “We believe that investment in quality equity holdings over the long term can contribute significantly to market-leading payouts for policyholders.
“That is why, despite the poor performance of the stockmarkets in late 2007 and 2008, we maintained our high exposure to equities. Our significant financial strength allowed us the flexibility to do this.
“The result is that we were extremely well placed to take advantage of the upturn in the markets in the second half of last year.”
The Wesleyan Group has in excess of £4bn of funds under management as at 31 December 2009.