Friday, 26 April 2013

Lloyds directors briefing and Solvency II update - looking well

With Solvency II news and comment pretty thin on the ground this month as the guys at EIOPA count their LTGA beans, it was nice to see the trailblazers at Lloyds release their director briefing slides from last week, an event one may assume is relatively frosty after the money spent in preparation and the distinctly agitated tone on the matter from their CEO recently!

Bling - things Lloyds could have
bought with £300m
As Lloyds are already well down the road of internal model development (having almost kept to their original IMAP deadline they were able to get materials down to the FSA prior to the implementation deadline shifting), the slides are very revealing as to where the group remain lacking when attempting to meet the Tests and Standards for Internal Model approval (TSIMs). With 84% of the market 'by materiality' meeting the principles of the TSIMs, they are clearly in good nick, although by stressing 'materiality', it implies that a relatively large number of smaller members are perhaps still lagging.

The list of "common issues" found will neither surprise nor delight anyone else in IMAP, given that the same themes have been festering for a good 18 months now, and the legislative paralysis on the continent has clearly done nothing to aid the industry (in particular, the FSA letter from this time last year touches on most of these!). Specifically, they observe problems in the following areas;

  • ORSA - looking far enough forward (i.e. past year 1), and using stress and scenario testing effectively
  • Validation - evidencing validation work done, and following up on test failures
  • Model Change - justifying the thresholds for minor/major changes, and agreeing an approach for aggregating minor changes so that they can be considered as minor/major in aggregate
  • Use Test - using the model for something other than spewing out an SCR, and it would appear also that when interviewed, the effectiveness of board training and their understanding of the model is being found wanting
  • Documentation - documents are either not checking off against the TSIMs, or the content is contrary to the revised controls and processes which have been developed for Solvency II
As Julian Adams made clear at the turn of the year, full compliance with TSIMs is not part of the ICAS+ agenda down at the PRA, however they will expect firms to be fully aware of where they are currently light, and what they plan to do about it. Certainly looks like the Lloyds application won't struggle in this regard, and I wish them well.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

The PRA's take on EIOPA's Interim Guidelines - far from a 'Tragedy'...

The Prudential Regulatory Authority have celebrated their second week in office by hosting a number of industry briefings regarding EIOPA's Solvency II Preparation Guidelines. One Blogger keenly dripped some of the materials discussed out yesterday, but I've had a look through the briefing materials released today on the PRA's site to see if there are any messages worth amplifying.

Steps - appropriate?
From a calendar perspective, the PRA are planning some technical workshops with "industry representatives" in early May, to be followed by an industry briefing later in that month. The output from the workshops appears to be a major influencer on whether the PRA will "comply" with EIOPA's guidance or "explain" why they won't.

With final versions of EIOPA's guidelines expected by September/October 2013, the national regulators have an additional 2 months from publication to formally confirm their "comply or explain" position.

Reading between the lines this looks (for now at least) as a foregone conclusion however, with this comment from the internal model pre-application slides;
"We expect firms to have regards to the interim guidelines and take appropriate steps to prepare for Solvency II
Three slide sets have been released - anything new, or worth reiterating, below;

Internal Model Pre-Application

  • Model change - to be monitored throughout pre-application.
  • Colleges - Evidently notable divergences in assessment practice across the union which the Guidelines hope to fix, but "no direct implication for firms".
  • IMAP - while EIOPA's guidelines "will be considered as part of IMAP reviews", they don't (in the PRA's mind) touch on anything which wasn't already part of existing L1/Draft L2/pre-application L3, so no surprises on that front. They do however highlight the elements on Expert Judgement and Validation as providing more clarity on supervisory expectations.
  • No PRA expectation of  a full/'live' ORSA or Solvency II-compliant systems of governance by 2014
  • Neither are there any expectations for firms to make changes in investment strategy/capital strategy/outstanding Pillar 1 elements - at least not due to Solvency II in its current form.
  • For System of Governance, the PRA's slides highlight areas where EIOPA's guidelines exceed expectations of the PRA Handbook - these include Board MI; revisions to control functions; revisions to Risk Management Policy; Prudent Person Principle; and calculation of TPs.
  • For ORSA, the slides clearly indicate that dry runs and ORSA process development should be the immediate focus, and it should serve to reaffirm best practices that already "underpin the ICAS".
Submission of information to supervisors
  • Only a subset of the full package recommended by EIOPA in July 2012
  • EIOPA want to see at least one round of annual submissions, and two rounds of quarterly submissions before Solvency II goes live, with 2016 seemingly the preferred year.
  • On that basis, firms will have 20 weeks (26 weeks for groups) after year-end 2014 to submit annual template obligations.
  • They will then have 8 weeks (14 weeks for groups) after quarter end Sept 2015 to submit their quarterly template obligations.
  • As per ORSA, firms which are involved with internal model pre-application will need to perform both standard formula and internal model work in this area.
  • Also as per ORSA, thresholds for participation based on TPs (Life firms)/Premiums (Non-Life).
  • Narrative reporting requirements are "significantly reduced"compared to final requirements - however, there is plenty of crossover between what one might document during ORSA processes and what is expected to appear in RSR/SFCR, so firms shouldn't struggle in this regard.
  • The concept of a "Reporting Policy" document (guideline 33 in the consultation) covering who will be responsible for what in the submission of information to supervisors, is referenced in these slides. This hadn't featured on my radar before as 'compulsory', so documenting this early, even just as process steps/maps, seems like a move that the PRA would appreciate.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

UK's "new" Prudential Regulatory Authority - Approach to Insurance Supervision

So a magical thing happened over the weekend: a venerable institution disappeared on Friday, only to come back reborn on Monday...

...that's right, the FSA is no more, being replaced by two more focused entities in the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FSA). This is part of the UK-specific fallout from the financial crisis, where a perceived lack of focus from the former tripartite system which housed the FSA allowed for both systemic risk (Northern Rock, RBS) and conduct risks (PPI, Interest Rate swaps) to emerge largely unchecked.

Rather excitingly, this means a new website with some natty logos from the Bank of England (which
PRA - emperor's new clothes
or Solvency II aperatif?
has rehoused the PRA side of the FSA), as well as a statement on the new supervisory approach that the PRA will be taking.

For anyone in the ERM/Solvency II/Corporate Governance space, this gives us a chance to pick up on the kind of regulatory interrogation one might expect when writing/upgrading system of governance-related materials in preparation for both full Solvency II implementation in 20??, as well as how they are accommodating EIOPA's interim measures from 2014.

Remembering that the PRA's two statutory objectives are to promote safety and soundness of the firms it regulates, as well as specifically providing appropriate protection to insurance policyholders, I thought it wise to make some notes on how they have catered for Solvency II and deference (when due) to EIOPA, as well as the general content around expectations of governance systems. I found the following worthy of note;

Control function-specific

Section 82 - "[PRA] wants to be satisfies in particular that designated risk management and control functions carry real weight within insurers"

Section 117 - Should have separate risk management and individual control functions in place (dependent on nature scale and complexity etc)

Section 118 - the PRA "expects these functions to be independent of an insurer's revenue generating functions"

Section 120 - expectation of an "operationally independent Actuarial function", which the PRA consider to be "integral to the effective implementation of a firm's risk management framework"

Section 182 - "Actuaries can play an important part in supporting prudential supervision"

Section 119 - an effective Risk function on the other hand merely "ensures that material risk issues receive sufficient attention from the insurer's senior management and Board" - just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean the Risk profession isn't being made something of a gooseberry here, particularly as the FSA/Actuarial profession love-in started some time ago!

On Risk Appetite

Section 110 - a firm's risk appetite "[is] to be integral to its strategy, and the foundation of its risk management framework"


Section 84 - "remuneration and incentive schemes should reward careful and prudent management" - just like Prudential's and Standard Life's did this week!

Section 194 - Hint at potentially restricting pay in firms if intervention is warranted

Stress/Reverse Stress Testing

Section 109 - the AMSB must have " explicit understanding of the circumstances in which their firm might fail"

Section 145 - with regards to Reverse Stress Testing, " should consider the reliability of the output of the internal model compared with the results of these tests"

Section 106 - "competent, and where appropriate, independent control functions" should oversee risk management and internal control frameworks

Internal Models

Section 116 - On Internal Models, the AMSB should understand;
  • extent of reliance on models for managing risk;
  • limitations of their structure and complexity;
  • Data used;
  • key underpinning assumptions
Section 140 - "PRA expects internal models to be appropriately prudent"

Section 144 - firms may not choose the lowest capital requirement to determine whether or not to model internally

Regulatory Capital

Section 135 - for capital adequacy, firms "...should not rely on regulatory minima", and also "...should not rely on aggressive interpretations of actuarial or accounting standards"


Sections 212-215 - touches on treatment of "low impact" firms - is this effectively where aggressive approaches to proportionality interpretation should be expected (combined control functions, limited documentation, passive acceptance of Standard Formula etc)?

p43 - table covering the allocation of supervisory staff - 10 staff to 1 firm for the 25 largest insurers, versus approaching 10 firms to 1 supervisor at the small end.

Solvency II-specific references
  • In the PRA's view "[Solvency II technical detail should] leave scope for supervisors of individual insurers to make informed judgements around risks posed"
  • Confirms that elements of the Directive such as Prudent Person Principle, ORSA, Control Function requirements and Pillar 1 are all aligned with the new Threshold Conditions
  • Model approval will be dependent on "adequate" risk identification, measurement, management, monitoring and reporting throughout the modelling process
  • Will impose capital add-ons when necessary "to ensure insurers meet the required standards"