Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Standard and Poors on European ERM - momentum lost after Solvency II delays?

S&P released these pearls of wisdom regarding ERM within European insurers, specifically whether the additional breathing space offered to Solvency II may put the brakes on developments.

There's certainly no sitting on the fence with them - they start with the following as a statement of fact;
...the delayed start date of Solvency II has prompted some insurers in the region to reduce their efforts in developing ERM
Unsupported, but probably fair! They are also overwhelmingly positive on Solvency II on the whole, for example;
Solvency II remains a major driver of ERM improvements in Europe
the Directive has firmed up insurers' approaches to risk appetite, risk governance, and risk reporting
The introduction of the Own Risk and Solvency Assessment (ORSA) process...has helped to embed risk appetite in insurers' operations
Solvency II has brought risk management to the fore in insurers' strategic planning 
Easy to take any of those comments to task in the UK and Ireland, where national corporate governance code revisions, listing requirements, IAIS considerations and developments in both the actuarial and  nascent Risk professions are all taken very seriously by the respective industries, all the while cognisant of the shadow cast by Solvency II. In addition, the disciplines espoused by S&P's ERM assessments are practiced to a decent extent in existing ICA/FCR processes/reports, regardless of how 'ORSA-fied' they have become over the last couple of years.

This potential slight to the Western world is remedied on p7 however, where the research acknowledges that Western Europe effectively leads the way on ERM, and in the appendix (p8-12) where the league tables sit Germany and the UK firmly at the top of the ratings class.

They ultimately get to the real crux of their fears with this;
We would view negatively any evidence of a reduced role for economic capital in insurers' capital management arising from the delay
They are also gunning for insurers who continue to sell uneconomical products in the face of sustained low interest rates (p4), and validation standards in internal modelling (p5).

One would hope that, certainly in the UK with ICA, ICA+, and a supervisor who is continuing to staff pre-application for internal models adequately, that momentum around using economic capital in decision making will not be lost during 2014, particularly now that the PRA have as good as said that they accept EIOPA's preparatory guidance.

So give this a read if you want to know where your firm lies in the S&P ERM rating table, and if their opinion matters to your bottom line, be sure to quote this material when your Programme sponsors try to take the pace of 2014 Solvency II activity!


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