Monday, 30 September 2013

ORSA/Forward Looking Assessment of Risk - EIOPA's FINAL preparatory guidance for national supervisors

EIOPA reuse the preamble from the System of Governance guidance in their ORSA/FLAOR guidance, save for confirming that an assessment of overall solvency needs will be expected in 2014 and 2015 (more on that later). I will use ORSA rather than EIOPA's shiny new acronym for my own convenience throughout this post!

It ultimately reads in parts as a circuitous and convoluted piece due to the way that EIOPA have had to splice the ORSA requirements into three component parts, as per Article 45.1 of the Directive, to accommodate the postponement of some elements until 2015. An horrific example of this is point 3.112, which to paraphrase Chris Morris, reads like the ramblings of a drugged horse.

That said, they have clearly had to contend with a mountain of feedback since the initial consultation paper was released, and have done a better job of explaining why most comments were, in EIOPA's view at least, misguided.

Again from the practitioner's perspective I would highlight in general that;
  1. There is almost no discernible movement in EIOPA's position, even after lobbying;
  2. That explanations for the inclusion of contentious content are generally forthcoming, though for this subject are more forthright and pragmatic (perhaps naturally due to the lack of L1 and L2 substance);
  3. That 2014 ORSA is a genuine piece of work which will require the attention of the most senior staff in insurance firms - it would be a brave company that play-acts at any elements of the documentation, processes and outputs of the assessment.
Supporting arguments for EIOPA's final views are listed below, along with any relevant commentary from my practitioner's angle; 

Clarification re Omnibus II
3.49 - If go-live in 2016 does not happen due to further Omnibus II delays, "...undertakings will still be expected to perform the [overall solvency needs] assessment from 2014 onwards"

Clarification re continuous compliance with SCR and Technical Provisions calculations requirements, and the deviation from SF SCR assumptions assessment
3.50 - Confirm that these elements are postponed until 2015, and that technical specifications will be forthcoming from EIOPA by year-end to aid in the conduct of some of this activity.

Parallel running Sol I/Sol II concerns
3.53 - basically, not EIOPA's problem!

Compulsion for model applicants to also use SF in the assessment
3.54 - clarify that this in NOT about benchmarking models, rather "taking into account contingencies" should a firm's model not get through IMAP. A thoroughly negative and unsympathetic approach from EIOPA on this one I'm afraid

Timing
3.58 - "EIOPA considers it necessary that all undertakings perform the assessment of overall solvency needs at least two times during the preparatory phase, once in 2014 and once in 2015...[and] at any time during 2014"
3.60 - Stress that "...it is for the undertaking to decide on the appropriate reference date for its FLAOR", though couched in an expectation that financial year-end is most likely.

Guideline 5 - Delegation of activity by the AMSB
3.73 - "not acceptable" to delegate full responsibility for ORSA to sub-committees of the AMSB

Guideline 7 - ORSA Policy
3.62 - "...it is necessary to develop a full policy during the preparatory phase"
3.63 - "...[The ORSA Policy] may be part of the policy on Risk Management", though must be clearly identifiable

Guideline 8 - Record of the ORSA
3.64 - Rather bizarrely suggest that the ORSA Record is "...no less, but maybe even more important during preparation that after the start of Solvency II", but either way the message is clear - maintain the records carefully

Guideline 9 - Sharing information internally
3.77 - "It is for the AMSB to decide which parts of the information will be distributed to whom" - clearly some panic amongst respondents that they may have to start telling the 'proles' about their future employemnt prospects!

Guideline 10 - Supervisory Report
3.66 - EIOPA "...does however not expect that the first report will necessarily already be perfect"
3.69 - AMSB sign-off, accepting the results of the ORSA is the trigger for the 2 week window in which to submit the Supervisory Report
3.70 and 3.71 - Some rather confused paragraphs which seem to indicate that, if there is enough resistance to the results internally, that extra time may be afforded to the firm

Guideline 11 - Valuation bases
3.79 - EIOPA scrutiny postponed until 2015, but justifications on bases used expected

Guideline 12 - Overall Solvency Needs assessment
3.83 - EIOPA expect "...it will take several years" before this assessment is good enough, hence they expect the preparatory phase to include practice!

Guideline 14/15 - Continuous compliance with SCR requirements and Technical Provisions calculation rules
3.85 - Postponed until 2015, and again justify activity prior to Solvency II going live by using a practice makes perfect mantra, noting that attempting to do this will "...intensify the learning experience"! I wonder if anyone ever used that phrase in their budgeting requests...

Guideline 16 - Deviation of one's Risk Profile from SF SCR assumptions 
3.89 - Postponed until 2015, and also note that quantifying one's deviation from the SF assumptions will not be necessary "...if there is no indication that the deviation is significant". I guess modellers will have to wind their necks in around Credit Risk assumptions in particular on this matter, bearing in mind the diversity of methods currently on display.

Ultimately, little opportunity for shortcuts then, but perhaps enough time to review what's already in place before resource planning your 2014 activities.

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