The Exchange is pleased to promote this forum for experienced female professionals focused on investment of insurance general account assets. Industry leaders gather in a marketplace of ideas to share their knowledge and insights.
Round table discussion with WFAM's fixed income leaders to consider ramifications of climate change and the investment opportunities arising within their investment team's strategies.
Our insurance-industry strategist highlights the major forces he sees shaping insurers’ investment portfolios. The thoughts that follow are intended to complement the slew of investment outlook pieces published at this time of year, understanding that the capital markets are only one piece of the insurance asset-management mosaic. Although many of the points raised here are based on US industry data, our conversations with some non-US clients indicate they tend to apply globally.
Recent trends in leveraged loans and CLOs have raised eyebrows. What’s in store for these closely related sectors and how should they be regarded in insurers’ portfolios?
This paper describes the characteristics of Insurance-linked Securities (ILS) and their usefulness to institutional investors. We show that adding a particular type of ILS, Industry Loss Warranties (ILWs), to typical endowment, pension and insurance portfolios would have led to an improvement in risk-adjusted returns and resilience to tail market scenarios, while conforming to the usual constraints and regulatory requirements faced by these investors.
A wide gulf in performance is about to open between those managers who have fully integrated technology into their investment processes and those who have not.
It’s no secret that bank loan underwriting standards have loosened. In addition, CLOs – a primary source of demand for bank loans – are experiencing some softening in deal terms, often dipping into lower-quality collateral to make the arbitrage attractive. While these changes are not yet sounding alarm bells, click below to read more on our view of bank loans and CLOs.
Understanding the differences between the current market environment and dynamics leading up to the 2008 crisis can help investors more effectively prepare their portfolios for the next phase in the cycle.
Now in its seventh edition, the 2018 BlackRock Global Insurance Report summarises the key findings gained from surveying 372 senior executives in the insurance and reinsurance industry across 27 countries. As well as assessing trends in investor sentiment and the outlook for investment strategy, the report explores how insurers increasingly take into account environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations.
The Uniform Mortgage-Backed Security will be introduced next year. What do investors need to know and will the market be ready in time to ensure a successful transition?
This paper examines the "private credit" asset class, explains its characteristics, and explores some of the advantages and risks of investing in private credit.
The search for higher yielding investments secured by quality collateral and a desire for diversification has spurred insurance companies to explore alternative investing options such as private commercial real estate debt, including subordinate debt like mezzanine loans. We currently believe CRE debt can benefit from strong underlying commercial real estate fundamentals, continued favorable economic growth, strong borrower demand, and a diversified choice of strategies across the capital stack which may offer attractive risk-adjusted returns.
The NAIC Investment Risk-Based Capital Working Group continues to progress on its project to update the factors applied to bonds in the risk-based capital formula. This will most likely increase the number of bond rating buckets from 6 to 20. The impacts...
Emerging-market (EM) debt's strong returns over the past two years have attracted significant flows. While recent volatility has tempered that broad enthusiasm, investors interested in a strategic EM allocation are still actively exploring the space. However, to properly evaluate EM opportunities, it is important for insurers to consider the cost of capital as well as the risks.
Over many years of investing surplus assets on behalf of insurance clients, we think the need for a solution to address both the governance and investment challenges of overseeing such assets has become increasingly apparent. This paper describes Surplus Equity Solutions (SES), a holistic approach for the equity component of an insurance company’s surplus investment portfolio.
The Solvency II Directive (2009/138/EC) imposes a specific solvency capital charge on currency mismatches between insurance companies’ assets and liabilities. Most insurers choose to hedge the bulk of their foreign-currency exposures unless they hold a particularly strong view on currency valuations, but a 100% hedge will almost certainly fail to yield the best volatility-adjusted portfolio returns over time.
On May 14-15, we attended the NAIC International Insurance Forum in Washington, D.C. to stay informed on important regulatory issues that are affecting the insurance industry today. Summarized in this document are the most relevant discussions from the meeting.
Recently, we explored how tax changes have influenced the attractiveness of tax-preferenced investments and the impact of accounting regimes and taxes on rating agency and regulatory solvency assessments.1 This Perspectives addresses the impact of these tax changes on risk tolerances and asset allocation when taxes are explicitly considered in the decision process.
Many insurance companies and other investors now look to private credits, also known as private placements, to provide the duration they need along with potentially higher returns and lower losses. Voya presents this overview of typical covenants used to protect the interests of private credit investors.
With rates expected to rise and equity valuations high, insurers are concerned with achieving adequate returns without leaving their portfolios overexposed in the event of a downturn. In April 2018, GSAM Insurance Asset Management conducted its seventh annual survey, which synthesizes perspectives from 300 Chief Investment Officers (CIOs) and Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), representing over $10 trillion in global balance sheet assets.
The Society of Actuaries Committee on Finance Research is pleased to make available a research report that describes trends in asset allocation of major life insurers across eight Asian markets (China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand). The report was authored by a team from Coherent Capital Advisors Limited led by Fred Ngan.
While there appears to be widespread recognition of the benefits of EMD investing among insurers, there is little evidence in their behavior to suggest that they treat the asset class as anything more than a tactical source of yield. As we discuss in this paper, it's clear to us that EMD should represent a strategic allocation for most insurers.
While alternative risk premia have existed for some time—and have long been used by hedge funds—they have only recently begun to be evaluated by a broad swath of investors. Given the growth of investor interest in this space, we thought it timely to share our insights on what constitutes effective due diligence.
Insurers have taken into account many of the risks resulting from the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in underwriting, but have failed to address physical climate risk to the same degree when making their investment decisions. In this article we explore the solutions that can be considered from a listed equity perspective with the potential of these investment solutions spreading into other asset classes.
In this Perspectives, we seek to reconcile VaR metrics to conventional solvency methods, emphasizing its usage for evaluation and guidance rather than dicta to be proscriptively followed.
The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” effective January 1, 2018, will have meaningful implications for tax-advantaged securities, particularly municipal bonds. This Thought Leadership paper examines the implications for insurance companies.
Conning’s view is that the recently passed U.S. tax plan should drive significant capital expenditure and increase take-home pay, providing a meaningful boost to U.S. growth via the consumer. However, its immediate impact on the municipal bond market may also cause investors such as property and casualty (P&C) insurers to revisit their portfolio strategies and allocation.
Can Insurers Relax While Central Banks Unwind? The global Mercer Insurance Investment Team has identified 10 investment ideas we believe will aid in successful management of an insurers assets in 2018 and beyond.
New rules for prime money market funds caused investors to pull most of their cash out of these vehicles and turn to other liquid investments. However, prime funds have performed reasonably well since the rules went into effect, allowing investors to consider boosting the role of the funds in their cash investment strategies.
Investors have been flocking to private debt to escape the paltry yields from fixed income and exploit the retrenchment in bank lending since the global financial crisis. We have analysed the Cliffwater Direct Lending Index data to assess the extent to which private debt’s perceived attractions bear out in reality. Our findings provide food for thought for investors thinking of making an allocation to the asset class.
Market disruptions. We’ve seen many of these since the great financial crisis, and they’re usually bad things. The liquidity freeze. The taper tantrum. The oil price drop. In recent years, disruption has taken on new meaning in the tech world. A disruptor has been defined as one of two things: a product that addresses a market that previously couldn’t be served, or one that offers a simpler, cheaper, or more convenient alternative to an existing product.
This paper provides perspective on EMD investing in China and other countries. It concludes that the paradigm of long-term EM debt investing remains intact, as fundamental improvements reassert themselves, albeit with greater differentiation across countries.
Bill Poutsiaka, consultant to New York-based hedge fund Weiss Multi-Strategy Advisers LLC, among others, introduces Enterprise-Driven Investing – a valuable tool to help insurers consider all possible variables when it comes to investing. EDI provides a four-step business management process for insurers who seek to address investment pitfalls, improve decision-making and enhance results through their investments.
Conning released the Q4 edition of the semi-annual State of the States municipal credit research report. This update for the second half of the year retains Conning’s declining outlook on aggregate state credit quality. State revenue growth has improved, but not enough to meet state expenditure growth, placing aggregate state reserves under immense pressure.
In revisiting our analysis of declining P&C industry book yields, we have been interested to observe how closely actual figures have followed forecast. In addition the future trajectory shows less degradation than last year’s forecast, as the entire yield curve has risen over 50 bps since August of 2016, providing a better reinvestment rate. Although the future looks better, it does not appear that we have reached bottom.
Asset class risk and return characteristics are morphing as markets move to a new reflationary environment. Investors should reassess their portfolio construction to take these new characteristics into consideration and evolve allocations accordingly.
The disruptive force of online retail is by no means a new phenomenon, but the pressure on traditional brick-and-mortar stores has escalated, judging by the national retail bankruptcies and store closing thus far in 2017. For the investment implications, we consider the appropriate portfolio actions in the face of this dramatic structural shift.
Post-crisis dynamics in the muni market have created new challenges for insurers and make the case for specialized and dedicated attention.
In the investment industry, there is a widely-held belief that a Core Fixed Income strategy is a commodity. The question necessarily becomes, is there evidence to support this belief? Or are there in fact significant differences in returns over longer periods of time? If there are, the costs of assuming homogeneity could be more significant than investors realize.
The ultimate impact of a Trump presidency is uncertain, however. Trump’s focus on infrastructure with his $1 trillion proposal is likely to be positive.
U.S. Municipal Debt - An Infrastructure Opportunity for European Insurers... Infrastructure has emerged as an interesting asset class for European insurers. In this issue of Perspectives, we address questions associated with embarking upon investment in a new sector and moving away from a domestic market currency, and explore other issues impacting bond holdings, Solvency II and infrastructure investments.
As the Federal Reserve raises short term interest rates, Credit Risk Transfer securities potentially offer an attractive floating rate opportunity.
This year’s GSAM Insurance Asset Management survey reveals a dramatic turn in expectations regarding the credit cycle, inflation, rates and equity returns. However, with rates low and equity valuations high, insurers’ dominant concern remains achieving adequate returns.
The NAIC presented a proposal of new risk-based capital (RBC) charges for C1 investment risk in 2015. This issue of Perspectives highlights the differences between the current and proposed C1 factors, then utilizes the U.S. life industry data to illustrate key differences between optimized portfolios under current and proposed C1 factors.
In a rising interest rate environment, the case for senior floating rate loans should be revisited. This paper provides a primer for investing in this asset class.
In this Q&A, Portfolio Manager Timothy J. Settel outlines why we believe bank loans present an attractive investment opportunity.
This white paper reviews the role that floating rate loans can play in a diversified portfolio.
Back in the early 2000’s we began speaking with our insurance company clients about the potential benefits of membership in the Federal Home Loan Bank System. We immediately identified this program as a relatively inexpensive source of liquidity which could be particularly useful at times of capital market volatility when execution costs would be abnormally high.
As in all fixed income markets, secondary market liquidity is not abundant in EM. The decline in market liquidity means that investors who take too short term a view can end up being “topped and tailed” (i.e., selling out too soon or buying too late) when volatility increases. A longer term investment horizon, plus strong liquidity management, is key.
This Quick Takes explores potential tax changes of the new administration and their effects for holders of municipal bonds, specifically property and casualty insurers.
In this Perspectives, we assess the potential impact of a decline in corporate tax rates and rising interest rates on asset allocation and earned investment income, relying on industry aggregates as a representative company proxy.
The potential for lower tax rates under a new administration could have a significant impact on Property-Casualty (P/C) insurers' capacity for municipal bonds, and will certainly affect the tax-equivalent yield (TEY) (makes the yield on a tax-advantaged security comparable to a taxable) multiplier yield.
A key question among insurance company investment professionals--especially at US life insurers--is whether allocating away from core fixed income is worth the risk.
In this issue we examine the potential timing and magnitude of additional book yield degradation for the P&C industry.
As the range of approaches to private debt investment widens, fund managers increasingly need to show that they can operate across geographies and the capital structure. Ian Fowler of Barings explains why this is so important.
It is to an insurer’s advantage to adopt an enterprise capital management approach to optimizing asset allocation which encompasses a more complete integration with enterprise risk appetite and tolerances, a comprehensive vetting of investment guidelines and consideration of capital structure and management.