STRATEGIES FOR ADAPTING AND REMODELING ACTIVITIES IN ROMANIAN INSURANCE COMPANIES

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1 DIANA MIRUNA HANCU STRATEGIES FOR ADAPTING AND REMODELING ACTIVITIES IN ROMANIAN INSURANCE COMPANIES Ph.D. Thesis - SUMMARY - Ph.D. Coordinators: Prof. Dan CÂNDEA, Ph.D. Prof. Dumitru MATIŞ, Ph.D. 2009

2 Field of study The insurance industry has rapidly evolved in recent years. Innovation, increased competition and a continuous rise in the number of legal regulations have resulted in an explosion of complexities. There is more to handle and less time to do it than ever before, turning the simple execution of a compensation plan into a complex process. The insurance industry is operating from a position of strength around the globe commensurate with its substantial size and maturity. However, the industry also faces considerable challenges, including a fiercely competitive landscape marked by continuing mergers and acquisitions activity and heightened regulatory focus on all aspects of the business. Among property and casualty insurers, long-term liabilities and natural disasters are also impacting profits. Despite these challenges, opportunities abound to increase profits and alter business models to capitalize on current trends. For example, life insurers are uniquely positioned to play a leadership role in a dramatically changing financial landscape driven by the aging of the world s population. This important trend is fueling demand for investment products that mitigate risk and provide a guaranteed income stream. To profit from such developments while navigating multiple business challenges may require a change in strategy across all segments of the insurance company value chain asset gathering, production, asset management and distribution. For each of these segments, outsourcing can be an efficient and viable solution for remaining competitive and increasing profitability. In the past, the management of insurance general account assets was the subordinated result of necessary attention to other business drivers. Decisions that drove portfolio returns were often assessed and addressed in isolation. Thus, insurance company investment outcomes lacked the benefit of a comprehensive, holistic analysis that balanced these needs cohesively. Due in part to today s low-yield environment and other business pressures, many insurers are looking outside of traditional fixedincome investments for additional sources of income and total return. As a result, there has been a slight increase in investment

3 allocations to equities among life and health insurers while larger firms explore the high-yield and emerging markets debt sectors. In general, insurance companies are adopting a broader approach encompassing new investment vehicles to better target enterprise risk and return in addition to income generation. For insurers looking to expand equity allocations, the relatively new concept of managed volatility equity strategies may be of interest. From a risk and return standpoint, a strategy that is benchmark-unaware may be more successful than one that is designed to control portfolio risk versus a cap-weighted benchmark. Employing a quantitative, low turnover approach to a portfolio of stocks selected for their low beta can lead to a more predictable return stream over time with lower overall volatility and less sensitivity to market movements. Research problem and objectives The purpose of this paper is to analyse the property and casualty insurance industry and recommend strategies that would allow Romanian insurance companies to extend their positions in the industry, to grow their competitive advantages and to increase their profitability. The research goal is to improve the level of knowledge regarding ALM, especially with respect to its application to financial security systems such as life or health insurance, property and casualty insurance and pensions. The research has the following objectives: 1. to develop rules, principles and training methods for the insurance life agents and advisers; 2. to describe the specific national context and the influence of some certain techniques, procedures and actions in achieving the specific individual goals as well as the company s goals; 3. to develop possible strategies for the Romanian insurance companies in order to improve business performance and profitability as well as processes of adjustment and consolidation;

4 4. to suggest the appropriate actions and operations needed to face the global economic and financial market crisis. Theoretical framework There is a strong trend nowadays towards trans-disciplinary research where the present study is positioned, as well. Concepts and interdependencies related to: strategic management, risk management, managerial skills, human resource management, organizational behavior, performance management have been considered and applied. The fundamental theoretical research concept is sustainable development, and the tools used are: manage composite portfolio, build global asset management, allocate capital rigorously, increase customer reach, boost productivity. New models have been developed and successful managerial tools have been adapted from other fields to risk management and strategic management in insurance area. Main results It is expected that the study will have both theoretical and practical managerial value. The research presents a competitive analysis using Michael Porter's five forces model of competition: the threat of new entrants, the intensity of rivalry among existing competitors, the bargaining power of suppliers and buyers, and the threat of substitute products and/or services. Drawing from the above analysis, this paper also provides an overall assessment of the attractiveness of the industry and discusses the key success factors for the industry. The thesis performed a competitive analysis using Michael Porter's five forces model of competition on the property and casualty insurance brokerage industry. Although it is a mature industry characterized by slow growth, the analysis illustrates that the industry is an attractive one in which to operate. The purpose of this analysis is to

5 identify the factors that determine a firm's ability to survive and prosper, namely its key success factors. The research presents two value chain analyses. The first is an industry value chain analysis of the property and casualty insurance industry and the second is a firm-level value chain analysis of a property and casualty insurance brokerage, namely Asigest. The paper detailed the key issues and concerns facing the Romanian insurance industry and based on the analysis conducted, it recommends various strategies and tactics related to the issues outlined in the thesis. Any business has important financial concerns, and its success or failure depends in a large part on the quality of its financial decisions. Financial analysis is part of the financial decision making process in that it is needed in order to determine a company's financial condition. The thesis provides a financial analysis of three important insurance companies of the world in order to ascertain their financial health as it relates to profitability, growth and cash flow. The research identifies the next key drivers of growth in the life business: the trend towards single premium business and pension and annuities products continued to drive sales in countries where an aging population and reductions in state social security benefits were causing a shift from a traditional life insurance model to a pension-driven one; the growing economies of the emerging markets with a relatively young population and an expanding middle class are driving sales across all products; in 2007, the severe credit crisis and turbulent financial markets did not significantly affect life insurance sales. Suggested actions for insurance companies: To reconsider their role in the insurance value chain insurers have to analyze their current and preferred strategic positioning in the value chain matrix Existing partnerships need to be reviewed and required new partners are to be defined Improvements need to be developed in the different business model areas

6 Conclusions The financial services industry is experiencing tremendous growth, diversification and innovation. Derivatives, globalization, product innovation, dynamic markets, and new methods of taking on and managing financial risk are key catalysts to profit growth and evolution. Major trends in the global insurance industry are underway that will significantly impact industry growth and profitability going forward. Key among these are an increasing need for scale to compete effectively, a continued emphasis on open architecture in the financial services arena, and the growing role of global financial regulations in driving product offerings and distribution channels. Insurance companies must recognize the opportunities for improved efficiencies as they re-examine business models in light of these changes. In today s market, the benefits of general account asset management outsourcing are tangible for both insurance firms and the end-customers they serve. In addition to helping optimize returns, asset management outsourcing can introduce a significant opportunity to gain efficiencies, thus reducing costs. By outsourcing one or more non-core aspects of their business, insurers can gain the scale and flexibility required for a future in the industry. The survivors will be those companies that accurately assess the value they bring, focus on core competencies and make the correct decisions about partnerships. Today s challenging capital markets, together with enhanced risk measurement and management capabilities, are driving insurers to change long-standing investment practices. To capitalize successfully on current and future trends, insurers will also need to maximize efficiencies around the marketing and distribution of insurance products. For instance, scalability of product development and distribution channels will be an important factor for firms wishing to take full advantage of the post-retirement de-accumulation market. To compete effectively, insurers will need to develop new products and tools, revisit distribution channels and markets, and form new partnerships and alliances. Many insurers will focus on core skills to remain competitive. Some may find that combining internal expertise, such as risk management capabilities, with external asset

7 management expertise, can turn challenges into opportunities. Distribution models for insurance and other financial products are also changing rapidly, leading to an increase in alliances with banks and other financial intermediaries. As a result, insurers will increasingly partner with outside firms to build new product lines and manage growing administrative challenges brought by the shift from manufacturing to product distribution and the rapidly changing regulatory and legal environment. For those who seek outside expertise, intelligent, integrated solutions from knowledgeable third-party service providers with industry expertise will prove the best course. As the economy recovers, we expect both higher life premiums and better investment results as asset prices are expected to improve. This will not only have a positive impact on profitability, but also on shareholder capital and the ability to raise capital. In the medium and long-term, the outlook for life insurance remains positive. While it is expected that the recession will reduce demand for insurance cover, capital shortages will support the upward movement of prices. Furthermore, demand for additional cover should increase in 2010 along with the economy. Profitability in non-life is likely to improve, mainly due to rising prices and stronger investment results. The research can be continued through a study of the effectiveness of the suggested tools and of the evolution of the performance of the organizations that will use them.

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