Life insurers should plan for stress: Barings CEO and other news

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

What do you need to know

  • Some say life insurers should match long-term benefits with long-term assets, but Griffin disagrees.
  • One thing that Griffin really worries about is the insurer’s poor choice of asset duration.

Ken Griffin is responsible for ensuring that life insurance and annuities live up to their promises to your clients.

Griffin is the new Head of Insurance Solutions at Barings, MassMutual’s asset management division in Charlotte, North Carolina. Barings has about $349 billion in assets, including $223 billion in insurance assets under management.

Griffin will work with insurers to manage selected investment portfolios that support life insurance, disability insurance, long-term care insurance and annuity benefit guarantees.

He received a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then began working as an actuarial analyst for a property and casualty insurance company.

He entered the world of life insurance and annuities as a director of Swiss Re in 1999. He spent 16 years as Head of Insurance Solutions at Conning and led asset-liability matching strategy at Brighthouse Financial for about five years. joined Barings in July.

We asked Griffin by email what he sees in the world of life insurance assets now that markets have become more volatile and interest rates are rising.

THINKADVISOR: In terms of life and annuity insurance companies, what schemes or strategies have performed particularly well or particularly poorly over the past year?

KEN GRIFFIN: Given the huge fluctuations in rates and spreads in the market that we have seen over the past year, the best strategies are those that diversify the risk profiles of insurers’ investment portfolios.

This will include an increase in allocations to asset classes that pay a premium for illiquidity.

Bad strategies include companies trying to meet the deadlines of their commitments, which requires untimely “chasing deadlines”.

During periods of volatile rates, companies lengthen duration when rates are low and the duration of liabilities has increased, and shorten duration when rates are high.

How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the turmoil in Europe and fluctuations in exchange rates? What did you learn from this?

A long-term strategic outlook can help weather the storms of the last couple of years.

A reflex reaction to market events is never appropriate, although the propensity to react can be quite strong.

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