Thursday, 8 August 2013

Germany, BaFin and Solvency II - Tchüss wisely...

With the British Lions rugby team having had such a marvellous summer, it's nice to see that the spirit of "getting one's retaliation in first" has been brought back to Europe with them. The Executive Director of insurance at BaFin, the German regulator, came out swinging late last week (while the rest of Europe was lotioning up), and delivered his two'penneth worth on, amongst other matters, the Long Term Guarantees situation currently holding up Omnibus II.
Omnibus II trilogue - work to do

This is the same man who has recently been quoted as saying that delays are not a problem, as "Solvency II was not designed for today". Which is true - strictly speaking, it was designed for about 8 months ago!

The German contingent have been labelled in a number of articles (here, here, here and here) as a major source of legislative delay (presumably ever since they twigged that the proposed design of the extrapolation element was massively unfavourable to their industry), and the lobbying angles pursued here are not really new news, but to emphasise;

  • Concerned about the increase in interest rates at Central Bank level - "should be carried out gradually", though rather disingenuously saying that they would have no influence in that - BaFin may not, but Chancellor Merkel and the overflowing pot of export surplus certainly does!
  • Solvency II go-live of Jan 2016 "absolutely realistic" provided the trilogues are finished this year - I've noted in earlier posts that the official schedules of the co-legislators are looking shoddy in this respect, so I'm more inclined to side with S&P (and indeed the president of BaFin!)on 2016 being on shakier ground than a Hippo's decking..
  • That transitional periods should be determined individually in accordance with a firms existing maturity profile - they want to avoid an insurer "falling over" just to meet the new regulation. Worrying that after 10 years of efforts, Solvency II compliance still carries such a credible threat of business closure! 
  • As they have so many insurance contracts (90m cited), they would simply "say goodbye" in a worst-case scenario if they don't get their way on transitional periods.
So the likelihood of the German industry "taking one for the team" here is pretty small, and with Hrs Balz and Giegold having made it pretty clear that the LTGA result will not elicit a swift conclusion to trilogue negotiations, it looks like there's still plenty of talking to be done...

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