General Insurance Article - Comments on Solvency II consultation

Hymans Robertson and EY comment on the Solvency II consultation published by the PRA

 Michael Abramson, Partner and Risk Transfer Specialist, Hymans Robertson, said: "The Government has previously made much of Solvency UK giving more flexibility to invest in long-term productive assets like infrastructure. Today’s PRA consultation puts meat on the bones of this flexibility, although insurers may feel that the meat is rather lean. The PRA proposals set out which types of assets would newly be eligible, along with a limit of such assets such that they cannot provide more than 10% of the portfolio benefit and various other restrictions. However, with nearly £300bn of assets held in matching adjustment portfolios overall and plenty of demand for bulk annuities, this could provide a modest boost to certain sectors over time.

 “Some pension schemes considering an insurance buy-out will have been hoping that these asset freedoms will allow insurers to take on their illiquid assets. There may be some instances where the proposals would facilitate this, but given the various limitations, it will be no panacea.”

 David Burton, UK Financial Services Regulatory Capital Lead at EY, comments: “The matching adjustment (MA) has been a key area of contention and debate in discussions about UK Solvency II reforms. Today’s announcement from the PRA should give the industry greater clarity around how the MA will work in the new regime, however, some of the proposals do not go as far as many firms had hoped.

 “While certain directional changes will be welcomed – such as the introduction of notching, the removal of the two-month MA elimination, and proposals to widen the scope of assets and liabilities to be included in the MA – many firms hoped to see greater flexibility and a wider range of assets with predictable cashflows included in the MA.

 “Firms need to understand the practical implications of the proposals on their operations, which will likely lead to further discussions with the regulator. Whether this will result in any changes to the eventual rules, however, especially considering the tight implementation deadlines, is unclear.”

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