The survey discovered that insurers see rising inflation and tighter financial coverage as the biggest threats to their portfolios, with rising rates of interest displacing low yields as the first funding danger cited by insurers.
“Inflation is a key concern,” mentioned Michael Siegel, world head of insurance coverage asset administration for Goldman Sachs Asset Administration. “It’s beginning to drive a number of the asset allocation selections that firms are making, together with into fairness, actual property, and floating fee property, that are seen pretty much as good hedges towards inflation.
“That is the primary 12 months that inflation is taken into account to be the highest danger to the funding portfolio. That is adopted by financial tightening. For those who’re involved about inflation, you’re [often] of the assumption that rates of interest are going to be rising. This additionally results in market volatility and considerations a few recession in Europe and the USA.”
Greater than three-quarters (79%) of insurers take into account inflation to be a priority of their home market, however most assume will probably be a medium-term occasion lasting two- to five-years. There’s a widespread notion that as financial authorities increase rates of interest, they are going to start to tame inflation.
The survey respondents had been requested: For those who’re involved about inflation, what’s an acceptable asset class to hedge inflation? The bulk mentioned actual property was their prime asset class, adopted by floating fee property and equities.
Whereas insurers have rising considerations in regards to the impacts that rising rates of interest could have on their funding portfolio, their considerations about low yields are declining.
Seigel defined: “On the finish of the day, the business advantages as yields rise as a result of the business is taking in premium, the business is receiving principal and curiosity off of its bonds, its receiving dividends off of its equities, and it must reinvest that into the market. It will want to reinvest at greater charges than decrease charges.
“However the path of charges is vital. If we get a pointy, steep rise in charges, that may find yourself inflicting disruptions in markets, and volatility tends to be unhealthy. If we get a gradual persistent rise and charges, on the finish of the day, that’s preferable for the business.”
The Goldman Sachs survey discovered that many insurers plan to maneuver public property – akin to funding grade company bonds and authorities securities – into non-public credit score, and public equities over to personal fairness.
“We see this continued motion from public property to personal property – and that may be public fairness to personal fairness, and public fastened revenue to personal fastened revenue – to be able to choose up the illiquidity premium,” mentioned Siegel. “The overall view is that the non-public markets provide higher return potential than the general public markets.
“Within the space of credit score, the covenants are usually higher. Within the space of personal fairness, it’s been proven during the last a number of a long time that personal fairness returns exceed public fairness returns. You surrender liquidity, however the business is awash in liquidity, so it’s one thing that they’re simply capable of accommodate.”
When requested how the completely different asset lessons have carried out, non-public fairness had the very best return on a world foundation, adopted by commodities, actual property fairness, infrastructure fairness, US equities, and rising market equities.
“You see slightly little bit of a theme right here: fairness, fairness, fairness, fairness and commodities,” Siegel emphasised. “Once more, [these are] property that ought to carry out effectively in an inflationary surroundings. What wouldn’t carry out effectively can be authorities and company debt. Why? As rates of interest are rising, the value of this debt comes down, and also you’ll find yourself with a damaging return.”
The survey additionally highlighted the affect of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) components on funding concerns. Europe continues to be the chief in ESG within the funding portfolio, however, globally, insurers additionally mentioned they plan to extend their allocation to inexperienced or affect bonds (42%) over the subsequent 12 months.
“Regulatory capital and ESG are by far the 2 most vital non-economic concerns,” Seigel mentioned. “Regulatory capital tends to extra closely weight riskier asset lessons, akin to fairness or excessive yield, and consequently, you see much less of that on a steadiness sheet. And ESG concerns actually cowl the entire asset lessons, and in addition assist clarify the motion into inexperienced bonds or affect devices.”