Monday, 15 July 2013

ABI and PRA on 'Meeting the Challenges of a Changing World' - Solvency II in particular...

Low Yield issue - not just for insurers
While I disposed of my son for the summer last week for an extensive potty training course in Bordeaux (PS you might want to avoid the 2013 whites!), the ABI gathered the great and good for their biennial conference, themed Meeting the Challenges of a Changing World.

A corresponding publication from the ABI which the event hung its hat off to a certain extent is particularly useful for anyone in the emerging risk/ORSA/reverse stress testing space, touching on 7 specific 'challenge' themes, which are themself further broken into sub-categories. With the ABI providing a mouthpiece for the interests of the UK insurance industry (and being currently Chaired by an avid opponent of Solvency II), it was worth picking up on this document's take on Solvency II, specifically;

  • That it could be a future constraint on the nascent equity release market
  • Its well documented "...potential effects on infrastructure financing"
  • That British insurers should "...[continue] being proactive and engaged in trying to shape vital regulation such as Solvency II rather than simply criticising it from the sidelines". Not sure if the implication is that the UK is drifting from the box-seat in this regard, but certainly in the context of the next decade, a slated in/out referendum on EU membership may make proactivity on Solvency II a moot point!
The regulatory meat in this lobbyist event sandwich came from a keynote speech by the PRA's Andrew Bailey which, in the process of publicly revealing a few nuggets of truth, still left me safe in the knowledge that insurance is still the banking industry's boring cousin - that he needed to "...make clear at outset that insurance supervision matters as much as banking supervision" and stress that " supervision is a skill on its own" while supporting most prevailing regulatory techniques with the prefix 'what we learned from Banking is...' tells its own story.

That aside, the following comments are worthy of highlighting;
  • The PRA's current trend of using "business model analysis" in their supervisory work - surprised that this was not already par for the course frankly (what else other than the types of analyses referenced at the bottom of p4 would you be doing?), but one would expect that the advent of ORSA will enhance everyone's activity in this field soon.
  • Taking that into account, it is "...logical for us to make early adjustments to our existing regime to incorporate the ORSA under ICAS+"
  • The suggestion that management "...take responsibility for understanding and mitigating the risks in their business" - 'managing', rather than 'mitigating' surely, we'll tolerate anything within appetite!
  • That the truly woeful "Solvency II/Crossrail" costing analogy used by Mr Bailey to a parliamentary select committee was the PRA "...making a point on behalf of firms".
  • That "PRA have not withdrawn from involvement in Solvency II, far from it", though recognises that the result around the classic matching adjustment is not what UK plc would wish for - goes on to comment that we "...still have a good way to go to make the Solvency II regime manageable in its use and implementation"
  • That, as far as Sol II's legislative progress is concerned, negotiations "...continue over summer, with a conclusion expected in the autumn", and that the official implementation date discussed recently on this blog is "clearly unrealistic".
In a week where a wall of silence has descended upon the co-legislators and the Commission, it is reassuring to see at least one NSA body with a solid-ish implementation plan, regardless of the immediate lack of things to implement - however judging by the words captured by Gideon of Dr. Wiedner, the lightly briefed (and from what I could read, lightly fed) replacement of Karel van Hulle, I suspect that Solvency II on the whole remains "Klaus but no cigar"...

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