Friday, 17 May 2013

Munich Re on Strategic Risk - ORSA food for thought

A thought-provoker from Munich Re for anyone in the business of Emerging Risk/'Top Down' risk review activity with this release called "Strategic Risk to Risk Strategy", which leans on the findings of the World Economic Forum's 2012 Risk Report to observe how the risks highlighted may compromise existing insurer strategies, as well as materialise into the thoughts of underwriters once sufficient data exists.

With coverage of "strategic risk" featuring in everyone's ORSA thoughts, as well as obligations around scenario analysis and reverse stress testing, there are some benchmarks in here that are worthy of consideration for practitioners. In particular;

Strategic Risk definition
Risk of making wrong business decisions, implementing decisions poorly, or being unable to adapt to changes in the operating environment

Subcategories of Strategic Risk
  • Ineffective M&A
  • Incorrect interpretation of external activity in a given market
  • Decision making based on poor pricing/profitability assumptions
  • Legal misinterpretation
Specific points
  • In their opinion an insurer's risk strategy "goes beyond covering the risk capital requirement for a portfolio for the forthcoming financial year on the basis of valid models" to actually questioning and enhancing a company's business. I think most practitioners would agree that any documented risk strategy would look further forward than one-year! 
  • That shortcomings around the evaluation of Strategic Risk "...are not so much of a question of the [informational] resources available", which are plentiful, nor are they especially time-pressured.
  • They also include a definition of Reverse Stress Testing as scenarios which "endanger a company's business model as a whole" - interesting purely in the absence of an EU-driven definition to-date, as it tallies along with UK equivalent definitions.
An edited list of Strategic Risk scenarios is included (p3) which you may want to line up against your own activity in this field, and follow on by exploring which of these are within and outside of an insurer's sphere of influence. You might also benefit from the diagram on p6 on the main stakeholders in an insurance company which may influence your selection of strategic risk scenarios depending on your structure and business model. 

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