Thank you, David, and good morning, everyone. Once again, I hope that everyone listening today and your loved ones are remaining safe and well. Today, I will discuss our second quarter results and provide some perspectives on the continued execution of our strategy. Brighthouse delivered strong results in the second quarter. Investment income from alternative investments was very strong, given the first quarter market performance.
As a reminder, alternative investment income is generally reported on a one quarter lag. The underwriting margin was in line with the prior quarter, but lower than a more normal quarter. We delivered another quarter of strong sales results, and we continued to prudently manage expenses.
Our balance sheet and liquidity position remained robust in the second quarter and our hedging program performed as expected. We estimate that our combined risk-based capital or RBC ratio range was between 480% and 500% well above our target of between 400% and 450% in normal markets.
Additionally, we ended the quarter with liquid assets at the holding company of approximately $1.6 billion, which includes a $250 million ordinary dividend paid to the holding company from Brighthouse Life Insurance Company or BLIC. Ed will provide more details on our financial results shortly.
As we have said before, our strategy has remained focused on growing sales, managing expenses, unlocking capital, and repurchasing our common stock.
Let me provide a few perspectives on each of these pillars. Starting with sales, I'm very pleased with our results in the second quarter. Annuity sales were approximately $2.3 billion, up 25% compared with the second quarter of 2020, and ahead of our expectations. We reported record sales this quarter for both our flagship shield level annuities and our variable annuities with FlexChoice Access.
Additionally, we generated approximately $26 million of life insurance sales in the second quarter of 2021, also ahead of our expectations. I remained very pleased with the progress that we're making as we continue to execute on our life insurance strategy. We remain focused on enhancing our existing suite of products, as well as further expanding our distribution footprint. Earlier this week, we launched several enhancements to our shield level annuities. We believe these enhancements bolster the competitiveness of shield, while also continuing to provide value to our distribution partners and the clients they serve. Also, in July, we further grew our distribution footprint for SmartCare.
As we execute our life insurance strategy, we expect to continue to add distribution partners, bring on additional wholesalers, and enhance and add to our product mix. Total annuity net outflows were $735 million in the quarter, as outflows were partially offset by continued strong sales.
As we have said many times previously, we expect to see a continued shift in our business mix profile overtime, as we add more cash flow generating and less capital intensive new business, coupled with the runoff of older, less profitable business.
Turning to expenses. Corporate expenses, which do not include establishment costs, were $218 million in the second quarter. Establishment costs were approximately $29 million. We previously committed to a cumulative $175 million reduction in corporate expenses relative to our first year as a public company. That was $150 million in 2020 and an additional $25 million in 2021. We remain focused on achieving the remainder of our expense reduction commitment in 2021. With that said, as I've said before, we will continue to invest in our infrastructure as we seek to enhance the support we provide our distributors and their financial professionals, as well as our policyholders and contract holders.
Moving to capital.
We continue to focus on optimizing statutory capital to support our balance sheet strength and our share repurchase program. I am extremely pleased to announce that in July, we received regulatory approval to take a $600 million dividend from Brighthouse Reinsurance Company of Delaware or BRCD as we refer to it to its parent company BLIC. Since 2019, we have unlocked almost $3 billion of statutory capital, including $1 billion related to the de-risking of our variable annuity hedging strategy.
Lastly, let me discuss our stock repurchase program. In the second quarter of 2021, we repurchased approximately $125 million of our common stock. And since the end of the second quarter through August 4, we were purchased an additional approximately $53 million of our common stock. Since the announcement of our first stock repurchase authorization in August of 2018 through August 4th of this year, we have repurchased almost $1.3 billion of our common stock. This represents a reduction of more than 31% of shares outstanding from the time we became an independent public company. Last night, we announced a new authorization to repurchase up to an additional $1 billion of our common stock.
We are very pleased with this new authorization as it reflects our financial strength, positions us to achieve our goal of returning $1.5 billion to our shareholders by the end of this year, and supports our ongoing commitment to return capital to our shareholders.
Before turning the call over to Ed, I'd like to take a moment to congratulate David Rosenbaum, who recently assumed the role of Head of Product Strategy and Pricing for Brighthouse.
As I'm sure many of you know, David has served as Head of Investor Relations for Brighthouse since our launch in 2017, and his responsibilities expanded in 2019 to include financial planning and analysis. David has been pivotal in driving our financial strategy over the last number of years, and I and we are excited for him in his new role. I am also very pleased to share that Dana Amante has succeeded David as the Head of Brighthouse's Investor Relations program. Dana has also been with Brighthouse since our launch as part of our finance organization, and most recently as Director of Investor Relations, and we're thrilled that she has taken on this new role. To wrap up, Brighthouse delivered strong results in the second quarter. Sales were better than our expectations.
We continue to prudently manage expenses, and we repurchased more of our common stock in the quarter.
Our balance sheet and liquidity position remained robust.
Additionally, we unlocked more capital during the quarter and our new authorization supports our ongoing commitment to returning capital to our shareholders. We remain focused on executing our strategy to deliver long-term shareholder value. And with that, I'll turn it over to Ed to discuss our financial results. Ed?