Insurance in Financial Services UK
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EIOPA embraces the latest trends in European conduct regulation on value for money, firm culture and customer vulnerability
The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) recently published a framework to help EU national supervisors (also known as National Competent Authorities – NCAs) assess conduct risks throughout the lifecycle of insurance products. The framework is designed to foster supervisory convergence amongst EU supervisors, and to “provide input to the types of risks EIOPA and NCAs should focus on.”
Importantly, EIOPA has highlighted conduct themes that have been of growing importance and visibility across EU markets. These include the need for supervisors to assess firms’ culture; the importance of value for money as one of the key outcomes firms must deliver to consumers; and the need to protect more vulnerable groups of customers. Some of these conduct themes are already being pursued, to varying degrees, across the EU. However, EIOPA’s framework shows that they are also gathering momentum at a pan European level, and that EIOPA will, as part of its convergence remit, increasingly push for these issues to be scrutinised by supervisors across the EU.
- a consultation aimed at improving outcomes in the drawdown market including the introduction of ‘investment pathways’ to help non-advised consumers choose the best way to invest their money; and
- final rules and guidance aimed at improving the information consumers receive in the lead-up to, and after, accessing their pension savings.
Many insurance businesses are struggling with the treatment of reinsurance held under IFRS17. Much of the struggle is to understand the accounting implications, but there are a number of tax issues that businesses should be addressing at the same time. This highlights the importance for businesses of making a place for their tax team within the leadership of the IFRS 17 implementation project.
In December 2017 the Risk Transformation Regulations were passed, enabling the incorporation of Insurance Linked Securities (ILS) vehicles in the UK for the first time. So far there have been 2 issuances (a collateralised reinsurance vehicle for Neon syndicate and a cat bond for SCOR), with rumours of many more in the pipeline.
As someone who has delivered systems changes in finance and actuarial teams for insurance clients for over two decades, I have mixed feeling following the firming up of the IFRS 17 rules and deadlines.
New technologies and evolving business models have required regulators to review their capabilities and respond to new risks posed. And the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is no exception. The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has vested considerable powers to the ICO to regulate and supervise data privacy risks. Increasing concerns about the wholesale use and processing of personal data by firms are reflected in the ICO's recently published Technology Strategy, which outlines its objectives and focus areas through eight technology goals.
The ICO strategy’s leitmotif is that technological advances “need not come at the expense of data protection and privacy rights” and that “privacy and innovation are not mutually exclusive”. Through the development of its technology strategy, the ICO’s overall aim is to remain relevant by ensuring that the monitoring and understanding of technological change, and its impact on information rights, are a core component of its work going forward.
It is no secret that technology and its impact on companies’ business models is shaking up the general market. Technology disruption isn’t limited to media, retail, or transport (to name a few industries), but this disruption is widespread, also impacting financial services. The general theme is that technology enabled companies can execute quicker, cheaper and with greater precision.
This blog provides an overview of the FCA’s 2018/19 Business Plan. It discusses the key cross-sector priorities the FCA identifies and compares them to those in the previous year’s business plan, noting dropped, changing and new priorities. It also outlines the FCA’s sector priorities for 2018/19.
Alongside the business plan, the FCA also published its 2018 Sector Views – the FCA’s annual analysis of how each sector is performing – covering retail banking, retail lending, general insurance and protection, pensions and retirement income, retail investments, investment management and wholesale financial markets.
Notably, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is called out as a top priority, over and above any cross-sector or sector priorities. The FCA notes that they will have to dedicate extra resources to this programme of work, and that this will mean reduced activity in other areas as a result.
Technology and innovation (“FinTech”) again featured prominently in this year’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) business plan. Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the FCA, remarked that “technology is supporting competition, transforming markets and changing the way consumers engage with them. […] creating a conveyor belt of risks and opportunity”. Given this, and despite the need for the FCA to dedicate a significant proportion of its resources to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, FinTech was confirmed as a key priority for the FCA over the coming year. The two specific FinTech priorities highlighted in the business plan are: Innovation, big data, technology and competition and Data security, resilience and outsourcing.
The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)'s emphasis on technological innovation in its business plan is relatively less pronounced. Nevertheless, it too is exploring ways to innovate as a regulator, by continuously monitoring FinTech developments, and supporting the authorisation and supervision of new banks and insurers.