For a number of years now, legislators from around the globe have poured huge energy and resources into assisting with the development, and in some cases complete reworking, of their prudential regulatory regimes. Local regulatory authorities have been similarly active in the implementation of these changes. Finally, the dust is starting to settle on this latest wave of change, with the likes of Solvency II for insurers now in place in Europe, and the Own Risk and Solvency Assessment (ORSA), in its various guises, firmly recognised globally as a key cornerstone of best practice when it comes to sound solvency management.
Now attention is slowly but surely starting to turn to conduct, the second key function of regulatory authorities, and legislators have become active again. Recent years have seen conduct risk push its way ever higher up the agenda. What do we mean by conduct risk though? The International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) has succinctly described it as ‘the risk to customers, insurers, the insurance sector or the insurance market that arises from insurers and/or intermediaries conducting their business in a way that does not ensure fair treatment of customers.’ The chair of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) has stated that ‘the scale of misconduct in some financial institutions has risen to a level that has the potential to create systemic risks.’ Such observations have served to further place conduct risk management in the spotlight, not just in the insurance industry but across the whole spectrum of financial services firms.
So what has been happening in this space? At a global level, the IAIS and the FSB have both been active. The IAIS has, through its Insurance Core Principles (ICPs), set out a number of key conduct requirements, namely suitability of persons (ICP5), corporate governance (ICP7), risk management and internal controls (ICP8) and conduct of business (ICP19). The FSB, charged with developing and promulgating global financial policies designed to minimise the likelihood of another financial crisis, has published a number of reports on measures to tackle misconduct in financial services. In May last year, it published a report setting out the next steps in its work to consider the role that governance frameworks have to play in reducing misconduct. It listed the following five themes as key elements of conduct risk management:
1. Clearly defined corporate strategy and risk appetite with relevant controls.
2. Appropriate expertise, stature, responsibility, independence, prudence, transparency and oversight on the part of board members and control functions.
3. Corporate culture.
4. Effective control environment.
5. Appropriate people management and incentives.
Risks relating to conduct of business are attracting increased attention across financial services firms, prompted by the ever-increasing focus of regulators in this area. Senior managers are accountable for conduct risk failings, and accordingly a strong conduct risk framework is an important tool in protecting against such failings. Based on our experience of assisting clients in this area, conduct risk management is still evolving and firms face many challenges. This paper by Milliman’s Karl Murray and Eamonn Phelan looks at recent and ongoing developments from around the globe and discusses actions firms need to take in order to address the changing business and legislative environment with regards to consumer protection.
In this paper, Milliman’s Kevin Manning and Eamonn Phelan and Secquaero’s Scott Mitchell explore the reemergence of insurance-linked securities (ILS) in the life industry. They also discuss how ILS can benefit life insurers and reinsurers in the context of the evolving regulatory and accounting environment as well as the increasing focus on proactive management of risks, capital, and liquidity.
Recovery and resolution plans (RRPs) are receiving a lot of attention from regulators lately. In an InsuranceERM article, Milliman consultants Bridget MacDonnell, Eamonn Phelan, and Eoin King explore the Solvency II requirements related to RRPs for insurers and reinsurers.
The article is based on the authors’ paper “Recovery and Resolution Plans: Dealing with financial distress.”
Liquidity risk is one of those risks we often don’t pause to think that much about, but it’s one that can wreak havoc on a business if not kept constantly in check. It is also a risk that has become heightened in recent times, because of a combination of regulatory and macroeconomic developments. Companies can often grow complacent about liquidity risk, especially if they have tended to generate cash on a consistent basis through ongoing operating performance. However, certain activities, such as mergers and acquisitions (M&A), a new product launch, or perhaps regulatory development, can give rise to new exposures. It’s worth reminding ourselves of some of the key drivers of exposure to liquidity risk, and what we can do to manage and mitigate this risk.
In Europe, the ability to recognize negative best estimate liabilities on the solvency balance sheet, effectively capitalizing estimated future profits on books of in-force business, and considering these profits to be immediately available to absorb losses in the business, requires companies to be extra vigilant. In reality, such assets may be far from liquid, unless they can be repackaged through value-in-force (VIF) monetization, or used to secure reinsurance financing of some sort. The same may be said of the likes of deferred tax assets, except that these assets may be even less liquid, unless they can be sold on to other entities within a group structure.
Other aspects of the liability side of the balance sheet can also pose liquidity challenges. Take, for example, a company with a range of unit-linked funds operating on a t+1 basis (i.e., settlement occurs one day after the transaction date), with a further range of funds operating on a t+2 basis. Policyholder fund switches out of the t+2 funds and into the t+1 funds can leave companies needing to provide liquidity for transaction settlements upon purchase of the t+1 assets, before payment is received from the sale of the t+2 assets. Depending on the volume of transactions, which could be significant, firms may struggle to provide such financing on an ongoing basis. More severe examples of firms struggling to cope with fund switch activity have included suspension of redemptions from property funds, albeit more because of the underlying lack of liquidity of the assets than the nature of the pricing basis, though ultimately leading to similar problems. Funds that permit a mix of both individual and corporate investors may be particularly susceptible, as the latter potentially have the ability to move vast sums of money very quickly, and before redemptions are suspended, precipitating the lack of liquidity for individuals.
The Solvency II preparatory guidelines require undertakings to prepare a Forward Looking Assessment of Own Risk (FLAOR), which is based on the Own Risk and Solvency Assessment (ORSA) principles. While the FLAOR can be prepared on a “best efforts” basis, it is undoubtedly a useful first step toward full implementation of the ORSA. In this research report, Milliman’s Eamonn Phelan and Sinead Clarke explore the progress that undertakings have made toward meeting the preparatory guidelines in a number of different European countries. They also outline the feedback provided by various European supervisory authorities and discuss the steps that can be taken to build upon what has been achieved during the preparatory phase in order to meet the full requirements of the ORSA from 2016 onward.