Insurers are willing to take on more portfolio risk than they were last year, according to a recent survey of leading chief investment officers (CIOs) and chief financial officers (CFOs) of the insurance industry.
These results come from a survey conducted in February by Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) insurance team in partnership with KRC Research.
The report, Growing but Tempered Optimism, drew on online interviews with 252 CIOs and CFOs who represented over $6 trillion of funds under management.
The results indicate that the insurance industry is growing more optimistic about investment opportunities, with more than 40 per cent of CIOs intending to increase overall portfolio risk, and less than 10 per cent intending to decrease risk.
Insurers also believe that they are in a healthy position to expose themselves to more risk, with more than 90 per cent of insurance CFOs believing that their peer group is either adequately or over-capitalised.
Moreover, the survey showed that insurers are likely to reorientate their portfolios into assets that offer a higher total return potential, including equities, bank loans, real estate, commercial mortgage loans and private equity.
"Insurers recognise the difficulty of generating adequate returns by holding predominantly high grade portfolios," said Michael Siegel, global head of GSAM insurance.
"Lower investment returns have challenged the industry's ability to deliver strong financial results, which have pressured insurance company equity valuations," he added.
This is a significant shift from 2012, when insurers were more focused on keeping high yielding assets and large cash balances. In total, 31 per cent of CIOs believed investment opportunities were increasing, compared to 14 per cent in 2012.
Although fears over the Euro sovereign debt crisis continue, the survey also showed that insurers are now more concerned about the impact of monetary policy, credit and equity market volatility and inflation.
"It's clear that insurers are feeling more optimistic, although there is still a good deal of caution," said Mr Siegel.
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