BlackRock Study: Global Insurers are Future-Proofing Portfolios Amidst Shifting Markets
- Incorporation of ESG and climate considerations into the investment process is growing in prominence amongst insurers
- 68% of respondents are prioritizing investment in technology for risk management at scale
- Growing adoption of fixed income ETFs to help manage liquidity and seek enhanced yield
- 79% of insurers surveyed plan to review their long-term strategic asset allocation (SAA)
Accelerated portfolio reviews to balance risk and liquidity
Seventy-nine percent of insurers surveyed plan to review their long-term strategic asset allocation (SAA) and nearly half (48%) will review risk appetite thresholds this year. Most insurers (60%) reported inflation as their top market concern, with asset price volatility (59%) and liquidity (58%) close behind. To further diversify their portfolios, most insurers (87%) plan to increase allocations to private investments over the next two years, which would represent a 3% average increase versus their current allocation. Insurers also plan to increase allocations to liquid assets, suggesting a barbell approach, with 37% of respondents intending to allocate to cash and 31% to fixed income.
Focused on an integrated approach to ESG and climate investing
More than two-thirds of the survey respondents reported they are either likely or very likely to implement broad ESG targets in their portfolios in the next 24 months. In addition, 85% reported they are either likely or very likely to commit to specific climate objectives for their portfolio. Sixty- two percent of insurers surveyed see decision making related to sustainability as a major trend shaping their industry in the coming years. The right technologies and tools will be critical for insurers to ensure consistency across sustainability analytics, with applications including regulatory disclosure and reporting, through to evaluating investment allocations.
Continued innovation in risk management: from digital transformation to ETFs
Sixty-five percent of insurers reported digital transformation and technology as the most important trend in the insurance industry over the next 12-24 months, compared to 44% in 2021. Nearly all (98%) reported using artificial intelligence, machine learning, predictive analytics, blockchain, or a combination of these technologies, with predictive analytics being utilized both for the management of insurance business (65%) and investment operations (72%). When it comes to future tech spend, the vast majority of insurers surveyed plan to prioritize investments for asset and liability management (68%), along with regulatory compliance (54%) and market data (53%).
The insurers surveyed are also driving adoption of new investment approaches such as bond ETFs. Insurers report they plan to increase the use of fixed income ETFs in their portfolios, primarily to potentially improve liquidity (54%) and yield (48%). According to BlackRock research, eight of the ten largest US insurers now report using bond ETFs, with five having adopted them after the volatile markets of
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1 S&P Global Intelligence, BlackRock analysis of filings with the
2 BlackRock - New users are defined as investors allocation to ETFs in 2022 following at least 3 years on non-usage.
3 BlackRock - Estimated
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