Group Chief Risk Officer’s report on the risks facing our business and our capital strength

Managing risk to generate competitive advantage


‘We generate shareholder value
by selectively taking exposure to
risks that are adequately rewarded
and that can be appropriately
quantified and managed.’

Pierre-Olivier Bouée
Group Chief Risk Officer


For more information on Prudential’s strategy and operating principles Our strategy

Prudential retains material risks only where consistent with our risk appetite and risk-taking philosophy, that is:

  • They contribute to value creation;
  • Adverse outcomes can be withstood; and
  • We have the capabilities, expertise, processes and controls to manage them.

As a provider of financial services the management of risk lies at the heart of our business, and effective risk management capabilities represent a key source of competitive advantage for the Group. We generate shareholder value by selectively taking exposure to risks that are adequately rewarded and that can be appropriately quantified and managed. We retain material risks only where consistent with our risk appetite and risk-taking philosophy, that is: (i) they contribute to value creation; (ii) adverse outcomes can be withstood; and (iii) we have the capabilities, expertise, processes and controls to manage them.

The control procedures and systems established within the Group are designed to manage rather than eliminate the risk of failure to meet business objectives. They can only provide reasonable and not absolute assurance against material misstatement or loss and focus on aligning the levels of risk-taking with the achievement of business objectives.

Group Risk Framework

Our Group Risk Framework describes our approach to risk management, including provisions for risk governance arrangements; our appetite and limits for risk exposures; policies for the management of various risk types; risk culture standards; and risk reporting. It is under this framework that the key arrangements and standards for risk management and internal control that support Prudential’s compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements are defined.

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Risk governance

(Unaudited)

Our Group Risk Framework requires that all our businesses and functions establish processes for identifying, evaluating and managing the key risks faced by the Group. The framework is based on the concept of ‘three lines of defence’ comprising risk-taking and management, risk control and oversight and independent assurance.

Primary responsibility for strategy, performance management and risk control lies with the Board, which has established the Group Risk Committee to assist in providing leadership, direction and oversight in respect of the Group’s significant risks, and with the Group Chief Executive and the Chief Executives of each of the Group’s business units.

Risk taking and the management thereof forms the first line of defence and is facilitated through both the Group Executive Committee and the Balance Sheet and Capital Management Committee.

Risk control and oversight constitutes the second line of defence, and is achieved through the operation of the Group Executive Risk Committee and its sub-committees which monitor and keep risk exposures under regular review. These committees are supported by the Group Chief Risk Officer, with functional oversight provided by Group Risk, Group Compliance and Group Security.

Group Risk has responsibility for establishing and embedding a capital management and risk oversight framework and culture consistent with our risk appetite that protects and enhances the Group’s embedded and franchise value. Group Compliance provides verification of compliance with regulatory standards and informs the Board, as well as the Group’s management, on key regulatory issues affecting the Group. Group Security is responsible for developing and delivering appropriate security measures with a view to protecting the Group’s staff, physical assets and intellectual property.

Risk appetite and limits

(Audited)

The extent to which we are willing to take risk in the pursuit of our objective to create shareholder value is defined by a number of risk appetite statements, operationalised through measures such as limits, triggers and indicators. These appetite statements and measures are approved by the Board on recommendation of the Group Risk Committee and are subject to annual review.

We define and monitor aggregate risk limits based on financial and non-financial stresses for our earnings volatility, liquidity and capital requirements as follows:

Earnings volatility: the objectives of the limits are to ensure that:

  1. The volatility of earnings is consistent with the expectations of stakeholders;
  2. The Group has adequate earnings (and cash flows) to service debt, expected dividends and to withstand unexpected shocks; and
  3. Earnings (and cash flows) are managed properly across geographies and are consistent with funding strategies.

The two measures used to monitor the volatility of earnings are EEV operating profit and IFRS operating profit, although EEV and IFRS total profits are also considered.

Liquidity: the objective is to ensure that the Group is able to generate sufficient cash resources to meet financial obligations as they fall due in business as usual and stressed scenarios.

Capital requirements: the limits aim to ensure that:

  1. The Group meets its internal economic capital requirements;
  2. The Group achieves its desired target rating to meet its business objectives; and
  3. Supervisory intervention is avoided.

The two measures used are the EU Insurance Groups Directive (IGD) capital requirements and internal economic capital requirements. In addition, capital requirements are monitored on both local statutory and future Solvency II regulatory bases.

We also define risk appetite statements and measures (ie limits, triggers, indicators) for the major constituents of each risk type as categorised and defined in the Group Risk Framework, where appropriate. These appetite statements and measures cover the most significant exposures to the Group, particularly those that could impact our aggregate risk limits. The Group Risk Framework risk categorisation is shown in the table below.

Our risk appetite framework forms an integral part of our annual business planning cycle. The Group Risk Committee is responsible for reviewing the risks inherent in the Group’s business plan and for providing the Board with input on the risk/reward trade offs implicit therein. This review is supported by the Group Risk function, which uses submissions by business units to calculate the Group’s aggregated position (allowing for diversification effects between business units) relative to the aggregate risk limits.

Group Risk Framework risk categorisation

Category Risk type Definition
Financial risks Market risk The risk of loss for the Group’s business, or of adverse change in the financial situation, resulting, directly or indirectly, from fluctuations in the level or volatility of market prices of assets and liabilities.
  Credit risk The risk of loss for the Group’s business or of adverse change in the financial position, resulting from fluctuations in the credit standing of issuers of securities, counterparties and any debtors in the form of default or other significant credit event (eg downgrade or spread widening).
  Insurance risk The risk of loss for the Group’s business or of adverse change in the value of insurance liabilities, resulting from changes in the level, trend, or volatility of a number of insurance risk drivers. This includes adverse mortality, longevity, morbidity, persistency and expense experience.
  Liquidity risk The risk of the Group being unable to generate sufficient cash resources or to meet financial obligations as they fall due in business as usual and stress scenarios.
Non-financial risks Operational risk The risk of loss arising from inadequate or failed internal processes, or from personnel and systems, or from external events other than those covered by business environment risk.
  Business environment risk Exposure to forces in the external environment that could significantly change the fundamentals that drive the business’s overall strategy.
  Strategic risk Ineffective, inefficient or inadequate senior management processes for the development and implementation of business strategy in relation to the business environment and the Group’s capabilities.

Risk policies

(Audited)

Risk policies set out specific requirements for the management of, and articulate the risk appetite for, key risk types. There are policies for credit, market, insurance, liquidity, operational and tax risk, as well as dealing controls. They form part of the Group Governance Manual, which was developed to make a key contribution to the sound system of internal control that we are expected to maintain under the UK Corporate Governance Code and the Hong Kong Code on Corporate Governance Practices. Group Head Office and business units confirm that they have implemented the necessary controls to evidence compliance with the Group Governance Manual.

Risk culture

(Unaudited)

We work to promote a responsible risk culture in three main ways:

  1. By the leadership and behaviours demonstrated by management;
  2. By building skills and capabilities to support management; and
  3. By including risk management (through the balance of risk with profitability and growth) in the performance evaluation of individuals.

The remuneration strategy at Prudential is designed to be consistent with its risk appetite, and the Group Chief Risk Officer advises the Group Remuneration Committee on adherence to our risk framework and appetite.

Risk reporting

(Unaudited)

An annual ‘top-down’ identification of our top risks assesses the risks that have the greatest potential to impact the Group’s operating results and financial condition. The management information received by the Group Risk Committees and the Board is tailored around these risks, and it also covers ongoing developments in other key and emerging risks. A discussion of the key risks, including how they affect our operations and how they are managed, follows below.

Key risks

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Market risk

(i) Investment risk

(Audited)

In Prudential UK, investment risk arises from the assets in the with-profits fund. This risk impacts the shareholders’ interest in future transfers and is driven predominantly by equities in the fund as well as by other investments such as property and bonds. The fund’s large inherited estate – estimated at £8.0 billion as at 31 December 2013 (31 December 2012: £7.0 billion) – can absorb market fluctuations and protect the fund’s solvency. The inherited estate is partially protected against falls in equity markets through an active hedging policy.

In Asia, our shareholder exposure to equities relates to revenue from unit-linked products and, from a capital perspective, to the effect of falling equity markets on its with-profits businesses.

In Jackson, investment risk arises in relation to the assets backing the policies. In the case of the ‘spread business’, including fixed annuities, these assets are generally bonds. For variable annuities business, these assets include equities as well as other assets such as bonds. In this case the impact on the shareholder comes from value of future mortality and expense fees, and additionally from guarantees embedded in variable annuity products. Shareholders’ exposure to these guarantees is mitigated through a hedging programme, as well as reinsurance. Further measures have been undertaken including re-pricing initiatives and the introduction of variable annuities without guarantees. Furthermore, it is our philosophy not to compete on price; rather, we seek to sell at a price sufficient to fund the cost it incurs to hedge or reinsure its risks and to achieve an acceptable return.

The Jackson IFRS shareholders’ equity and US statutory capital are sensitive to the effects of policyholder behaviour on the valuation of GMWB guarantees. Jackson hedges the guarantees on its variable annuity book on an economic basis, and thus accepts variability in its accounting results in the short term in order to achieve the appropriate economic result. In particular, under Prudential’s Group IFRS reporting, the measurement of the Jackson variable annuity guarantees is typically less sensitive to market movements than the corresponding hedging derivatives, which are held at market value. However, depending on the level of hedging conducted regarding a particular risk type, certain market movements can drive volatility in the economic result which may be less significant under IFRS reporting.

(ii) Interest rate risk

(Audited)

Long-term rates have declined over recent periods in many markets, falling to historic lows. Products that we write are sensitive to movements in interest rates, and while we have already taken a number of actions to de-risk the in-force business as well as re-price and restructure new business offerings in response to historically low interest rates, persistently low rates may impact policyholders’ savings patterns and behaviour.

Interest rate risk arises in our UK business from the need to match cash flows for annuity payments with those from investments; movements in interest rates may have an impact on profits where durations are not perfectly matched. As a result, we aim to match the duration of assets and liabilities as closely as possible and the position is monitored regularly. The with-profits business is exposed to interest rate risk as a result of underlying guarantees. Such risk is largely borne by the with-profits fund but shareholder support may be required in extremis.

In Asia, exposure to interest rate risk arises from the guarantees of some non-unit-linked investment products. This exposure arises because it may not be possible to hold assets which will provide cash flows to match exactly those relating to policyholder liabilities. While this residual asset/liability mismatch risk can be managed, it cannot be eliminated.

Jackson is exposed to interest rate risk in its fixed, fixed index and variable annuity books. Movements in interest rates can influence the cost of guarantees in such products, in particular the cost of guarantees may increase when interest rates fall. Interest rate risk across the entire business is managed through the use of interest rate swaps and interest rate options.

(iii) Foreign exchange risk

(Audited)

We principally operate in Asia, the US and the UK. The geographical diversity of our businesses means that we are inevitably subject to the risk of exchange rate fluctuations. Our international operations in the US and Asia, which represent a significant proportion of our operating profit and shareholders’ funds, generally write policies and invest in assets denominated in local currency. Although this practice limits the effect of exchange rate fluctuations on local operating results, it can lead to significant fluctuations in our consolidated financial statements when results are expressed in UK sterling.

We retain revenues locally to support the growth of our business, and capital is held in the local currency of the business to meet local regulatory and market requirements, accepting the balance sheet translation risks this can produce. However, in cases where a surplus arising in an overseas operation supports Group capital or where a significant cash remittance is due from an overseas subsidiary to the Group, this exposure is hedged where we believe it is economically optimal to do so. We do not have appetite for significant shareholder exposures to foreign exchange risks in currencies outside the local territory. Currency borrowings, swaps and other derivatives are used to manage exposures.

Credit risk

(Audited)

We invest in fixed income assets in order to match policyholder liabilities and enter into reinsurance and derivative contracts to mitigate various types of risk. As a result, we are exposed to credit and counterparty credit risk across our business. We employ a number of risk management tools to manage credit risk, including limits defined on an issuer/counterparty basis as well as on average credit quality, and collateral arrangements in derivative transactions. The Group Credit Risk Committee oversees credit and counterparty credit risk across the Group.

(i) Debt and loan portfolio

(Audited)

Our UK business is primarily exposed to credit risk in the shareholder-backed portfolio, where fixed income assets represent 33 per cent or £26.8 billion of our exposure. Credit risk arising from £48.0 billion of fixed income assets is largely borne by the with-profits fund, although shareholder support may be required should the with-profits fund become unable to meet its liabilities. Our UK business is exposed to a lesser extent to £7.2 billion of fixed income assets in our unit-linked business.

The debt portfolio at our Asia business totalled £18.6 billion at 31 December 2013. Of this, approximately 66 per cent was in unit-linked and with-profits funds with minimal shareholders’ risk. The remaining 34 per cent is shareholder exposure and is invested predominantly (71 per cent) in investment grade bonds.

Credit risk arises in the general account of our US business, where £30.3 billion of fixed income assets back shareholder liabilities including those arising from fixed annuities, fixed index annuities and life insurance. Included in the portfolio are £2.3 billion of commercial mortgage-backed securities and £1.8 billion of residential mortgage-backed securities, of which £0.9 billion (52 per cent) are issued by US government sponsored agencies.

The shareholder-owned debt and loan portfolio of the Group’s asset management operations of £2.0 billion as at 31 December 2013 is principally related to Prudential Capital operations. Prudential Capital generates revenue by providing bridging finance, managing investments and operating a securities lending and cash management business for the Prudential Group and our clients.

Further details of the composition of our debt portfolio, and exposure to loans, can be found in the IFRS financial statements.

(ii) Group sovereign debt and bank debt exposure

(Audited)

Sovereign debt1 represented 15 per cent or £10 billion of the debt portfolio backing shareholder business at 31 December 2013 (31 December 2012: 15 per cent or £10.2 billion). 44 per cent of this was rated AAA and 92 per cent investment grade (31 December 2012: 38 per cent AAA, 92 per cent investment grade). At 31 December 2013, the Group’s total holding in continental Europe shareholder sovereign debt1 was £531 million. 78 per cent of this was AAA rated (31 December 2012: 79 per cent AAA rated). Shareholder exposure to the Eurozone sovereigns of Italy and Spain is £54 million (31 December 2012: £52 million). We do not have any sovereign debt exposure to Greece, Cyprus, Portugal or Ireland.

Our bank exposure is a function of our core investment business, as well as of the hedging and other activities undertaken to manage our various financial risks. Given the importance of our relationship with our banks, exposure to the banking sector is a key focus of management information provided to the Group risk committees and the Board.

The exposures held by the shareholder-backed business and with-profits funds in sovereign debt and bank debt securities at 31 December 2013 are given in Note C3.3(b) of the Group’s IFRS financial statements.

(iii) Counterparty credit risk

(Audited)

We enter into a variety of exchange traded and over-the-counter derivative financial instruments, including futures, options, forward currency contracts and swaps such as interest rate swaps, inflation swaps, cross-currency swaps, swaptions and credit default swaps.

All over-the-counter derivative transactions, with the exception of some Asian transactions, are conducted under standardised International Swaps and Derivatives Association Inc. master agreements and we have collateral agreements between the individual Group entities and relevant counterparties in place under each of these master agreements.

Our exposure to derivative counterparty and reinsurance counterparty credit risk is managed using an array of risk management tools, including a comprehensive system of limits. Where appropriate, we reduce our exposure, purchase credit protection or make use of additional collateral arrangements to control our levels of counterparty credit risk.

Insurance risk

(Audited)

The processes of determining the price of our products and reporting the results of our long-term business operations require us to make a number of assumptions. In common with other industry players, the profitability of our businesses depends on a mix of factors including mortality and morbidity levels and trends, persistency, investment performance, unit cost of administration and new business acquisition expenses.

We continue to conduct research into longevity risk using data from our substantial annuity portfolio. The assumptions that we make about future expected levels of mortality are particularly relevant in our UK annuity business. The attractiveness of transferring longevity risk (via reinsurance and other external solutions) is regularly evaluated. These are used as risk management tools where it is appropriate and attractive to do so.

Morbidity risk is mitigated by appropriate underwriting and use of reinsurance. Our morbidity assumptions reflect our recent experience and expectation of future trends for each relevant line of business.

Our persistency assumptions reflect recent experience for each relevant line of business, and any expectations of future persistency. Persistency risk is mitigated by appropriate training and sales processes and managed proactively post sale. Where appropriate, allowance is also made for the relationship – either assumed or historically observed – between persistency and investment returns, and for the resulting additional risk.

Liquidity risk

(Audited)

Our parent company has significant internal sources of liquidity which are sufficient to meet all of its expected requirements for the foreseeable future without having to make use of external funding. In aggregate the Group has £2.1 billion of undrawn committed facilities, expiring between 2015 and 2018. In addition, the Group has access to liquidity via the debt capital markets. We also have in place an unlimited commercial paper programme and have maintained a consistent presence as an issuer in this market for the last decade. Liquidity uses and sources have been assessed at the Group and at a business unit level under base case and stressed assumptions. The liquidity resources available and the subsequent Liquidity Coverage Ratio are regularly monitored and we have assessed these to be sufficient.

Operational risk

(Unaudited)

We are exposed to operational risk through the course of running our business. We are dependent on the successful processing of a large number of transactions, utilising various legacy and other IT systems and platforms, across numerous and diverse products. We also operate under the ever‑evolving requirements set out by different regulatory and legal regimes (including tax), as well as utilising a significant number of third parties to distribute products and to support business operations.

Our IT, compliance and other operational systems and processes incorporate controls that are designed to manage and mitigate the operational risks associated with our activities. Although we have not experienced a material failure or breach in relation to our legacy and other IT systems and processes to date, we have been, and likely will continue to be, subject to computer viruses, attempts at unauthorised access and cyber security attacks.

We have an operational risk management framework in place that facilitates both the qualitative and quantitative analysis of operational risk exposures. The output of this framework, in particular management information on key operational risk and control assessments, scenario analysis, internal incidents and external incidents, is reported by the business units and presented to the Group Operational Risk Committee. This information also supports business decision-making and lessons-learned activities, the ongoing improvement of the control environment, and determination of the adequacy of our corporate insurance programme.

Global regulatory risk

(Unaudited)

Global regulatory risk is considered a key risk and is classified as a business environment risk under the Group Risk framework risk categorisation.

The European Union (EU) is developing a new prudential regulatory framework for insurance companies, referred to as Solvency II. The Solvency II Directive, which sets out the new framework, was formally approved by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council in November 2009 although its implementation was delayed pending agreement on a directive known as Omnibus II which, once adopted, will amend certain aspects of the Solvency II Directive. The new approach is based on the concept of three pillars – minimum capital requirements, supervisory review of firms’ assessments of risk, and enhanced disclosure requirements.

Specifically, Pillar 1 covers the quantitative requirements around own funds, valuation rules for assets and liabilities and capital requirements. Pillar 2 provides the qualitative requirements for risk management, governance and controls, including the requirement for insurers to submit an Own Risk and Solvency Assessment which will be used by the regulator as part of the supervisory review process. Pillar 3 deals with the enhanced requirements for supervisory reporting and public disclosure.

A key aspect of Solvency II is that the assessment of risks and capital requirements are intended to be aligned more closely with economic capital methodologies and may allow us to make use of our internal economic capital models if approved by the Prudential Regulation Authority.

In November 2013, representatives from the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union reached an agreement on the Omnibus II Directive, which is currently expected to be adopted in early 2014. As a result, Solvency II is now expected to be implemented as of 1 January 2016, although the European Commission and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority are continuing to develop the detailed rules that will complement the high-level principles of the Solvency II and Omnibus II Directives, which are not currently expected to be finalised until mid-2015.

There is significant uncertainty regarding the final outcome of this process. In particular, certain detailed aspects of the Solvency II rules relating to the determination of the liability discount rate for UK annuity business remain to be clarified and our capital position is sensitive to these outcomes. Further, the effective application of a number of key measures incorporated in the Omnibus II Directive, including the provisions for third-country equivalence, are expected to be subject to supervisory judgement and approval. There is a risk that the effect of the measures finally adopted could be adverse for us, including potentially a significant increase in the capital required to support our business and that we may be placed at a competitive disadvantage to other European and non-European financial services groups. We are actively participating in shaping the outcome through our involvement in industry bodies and trade associations, including the Chief Risk Officer and Chief Financial Officer Forums, together with the Association of British Insurers and Insurance Europe.

Having assessed the requirements of Solvency II, an implementation programme was initiated with dedicated teams to manage the required work across the Group. The activity of the local Solvency II teams is coordinated centrally to achieve consistency in the understanding and application of the requirements. We are continuing our preparations to adopt the regime when it comes into force on 1 January 2016 and are undertaking in parallel an evaluation of the possible actions to mitigate its effects. We regularly review our range of options to maximise the strategic flexibility of the Group. This includes consideration of optimising our domicile as a possible response to an adverse outcome on Solvency II.

Over the coming months we will remain in regular contact with the Prudential Regulation Authority as we continue to engage in the ‘pre-application’ stage of the approval process for the internal model. In addition, we are engaged in the Prudential Regulation Authority’s ‘Individual Capital Adequacy Standards Plus’ (ICAS+) regime, which is enabling our UK insurance entities to leverage the developments made in relation to the Solvency II internal model for the purpose of meeting the existing ICAS regime.

Currently there are also a number of other global regulatory developments which could impact the way in which we are supervised in our many jurisdictions. These include the Dodd-Frank Act in the US, the work of the Financial Stability Board on Global Systemically Important Insurers (G-SIIs) and the Common Framework for the Supervision of Internationally Active Insurance Groups (ComFrame) being developed by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS).

The Dodd-Frank Act represents a comprehensive overhaul of the financial services industry within the United States that, among other reforms to financial services entities, products and markets, may subject financial institutions designated as systemically important to heightened prudential and other requirements intended to prevent or mitigate the impact of future disruptions in the US financial system. The full impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on our businesses is not currently clear. However, many of its provisions have a delayed effectiveness and/or require rule making or other actions by various US regulators over the coming years.

In July 2013, the Financial Stability Board announced the initial list of nine insurance groups that have been designated as G-SIIs. This list included Prudential as well as a number of our competitors. The designation as a G-SII is likely to lead to additional policy measures being applied to the designated group. Based on a policy framework released by the IAIS concurrently with the initial list, these additional policy measures will include enhanced Group-wide supervision. This enhanced supervision is intended to commence immediately and will include the development by July 2014 of a Systemic Risk Management Plan under supervisory oversight and implementation thereafter and by the end of 2014, a Group Recovery and Resolution Plan and Liquidity Risk Management Plan. The G-SII regime also introduces two types of capital requirements, the first, a Basic Capital Requirement, designed to act as a minimum Group capital requirement and the second, a Higher Loss Absorption requirement for conducting non-traditional insurance and non-insurance activities. The IAIS released a consultation paper on the Basic Capital Requirement in December 2013 and we will participate in the field testing of the proposals (expected in the first half of 2014). We are monitoring the development of, and the potential impact of, the framework of policy measures and engaging with the Prudential Regulation Authority on the implications of this designation. The IAIS currently expects to finalise the Basic Capital Requirement and Higher Loss Absorption proposals by November 2014 and the end of 2015 respectively. Implementation of the regime is likely to be phased in over a period of years with the Basic Capital Requirement expected to be introduced between 2015 and 2019. The Higher Loss Absorption requirement will apply from January 2019 to the insurance groups identified as G-SIIs in November 2017.

ComFrame is also being developed by the IAIS to provide common global requirements for the supervision of insurance groups. The framework is designed to develop common principles for supervision and so may increase the focus of regulators in some jurisdictions. It is also currently expected that some prescriptive requirements, including group capital requirements will be included in the framework. A revised draft ComFrame proposal was released for consultation in October 2013. The IAIS will undertake a field testing exercise from 2014 to 2018 to assess the impacts of the quantitative and qualitative requirements proposed under ComFrame. ComFrame is expected to be implemented in 2019.

Risk factors

(Unaudited)

Our disclosures covering risk factors can be found at the end of this document.

Risk mitigation and hedging

(Unaudited)

We manage our actual risk profile against our tolerance of risk. To do this, we maintain risk registers that include details of the risks we have identified and of the controls and mitigating actions we employ in managing them. Any mitigation strategies involving large transactions such as a material derivative transaction involving shareholder business are subject to review at Group level before implementation.

We use a range of risk management and mitigation strategies. The most important of these include: adjusting asset portfolios to reduce investment risks (such as duration mismatches or overweight counterparty exposures); using derivatives to hedge market risks; implementing reinsurance programmes to manage insurance risk; implementing corporate insurance programmes to limit the impact of operational risks; and revising business plans where appropriate.

Capital management

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Regulatory capital (IGD)

(Audited)

Prudential is subject to the capital adequacy requirements of the European Union Insurance Groups Directive (IGD) as implemented by the Prudential Regulation Authority in the UK. The IGD capital surplus represents the aggregated surplus capital (on a Prudential Regulation Authority consistent basis) of the Group’s regulated subsidiaries less the Group’s borrowings. No diversification benefit is recognised.

Our capital position remains strong. We have continued to place emphasis on maintaining the Group’s financial strength through optimising the balance between writing profitable new business, conserving capital and generating cash. We estimate that our IGD capital surplus is £5.1 billion at 31 December 2013 (before taking into account the 2013 final dividend), with available capital covering our capital requirements 2.8 times. This compares to a capital surplus of £5.1 billion at the end of 2012 (before taking into account the 2012 final dividend), albeit this was calculated on a different basis.

The movements in 2013 mainly comprise:

  • Net capital generation (net of market movements) mainly through operating earnings (in-force releases less investment in new business, net of tax) of £2.1 billion; and
  • Subordinated debt issuance of £1.1 billion;

offset by:

  • The impact of the Thanachart acquisition cost, net of IGD contribution, £0.3 billion;
  • Reduction in respect of Jackson IGD of £1.2 billion, as described below;
  • Reduction in the shareholders’ interest in future transfers from the UK’s with-profits fund asset allowance (as discussed below) of £0.2 billion;
  • Final 2012 dividend of £0.5 billion and interim 2013 dividend of £0.3 billion;
  • External financing costs and other central costs, net of tax, of £0.6 billion; and
  • Negative impact arising from foreign exchange movements of £0.1 billion.

IGD surplus represents the accumulation of surpluses across all of our operations based on local regulatory minimum capital requirements with some adjustments, pursuant to the requirements of Solvency I. The calculation does not fully adjust capital requirements for risk nor does it capture the true economic value of assets. Global regulatory developments, such as Solvency II and ComFrame, aim to ensure that the calculation of regulatory surplus evolves over time into a more meaningful risk-sensitive measure.

£5.1bn
estimated IGD capital surplus covering capital requirements

2.8
times

There is broad agreement that ultimately it would be beneficial to replace the IGD regime with a regime that is more risk-based. Solvency II aims to provide such a framework and is expected to be implemented on 1 January 2016. The structure of the Group and the approach we have taken to managing our risks, with a sizeable credit reserve in the UK annuity book, a strong inherited estate in UK with profits and the relatively low risk nature of our asset management and Asian operations, together with a high level of IGD surplus, means we have positioned ourselves well for future regulatory developments and stresses to our business. Our economic capital surplus, based on outputs from our Solvency II internal model, is shown below.

(Unaudited)

In March 2013, we agreed with the PRA to amend the calculation of the contribution Jackson makes to the Group’s IGD2 surplus. Until then, the contribution of Jackson to the reported IGD was based on an intervention level set at 75 per cent of US Risk Based Capital Company Action Level. Post this change, the contribution of Jackson to IGD surplus now equals the surplus in excess of 250 per cent of Company Action Level. This is more in line with the level at which we have historically reported free surplus, which had been set at 235 per cent of Company Action Level, and which has been raised to 250 per cent in the first half of 2013 to align with IGD. In the absence of an agreed Solvency II approach, we believe that this change makes the IGD surplus a more meaningful measure and one that is more closely aligned with economic reality. The revised IGD surplus calculation has no impact on the way that the US business is managed or regulated locally. The impact of this change, when it was introduced in March 2013, was a reduction in IGD surplus of £1.2 billion.

We continue to have further options available to manage available and required capital. These could take the form of increasing available capital (for example, through financial reinsurance) or reducing required capital (for example, through the mix and level of new business) and the use of other risk mitigation measures such as hedging and reinsurance. A number of such options were utilised through the last financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 to enhance the Group’s IGD surplus. One such arrangement allowed the Group to recognise a proportion of the shareholders’ interest in future transfers from the UK’s with-profits business and this remained in place, contributing £0.4 billion to the IGD at 31 December 2012. We are phasing this out in two equal steps, reducing the credit taken to £0.2 billion from January 2013 and we expect to take zero credit from January 2014.

In addition to its strong capital position, on a statutory (Pillar 1) basis, the total credit reserve for the UK shareholder annuity funds also protects its capital position in excess of the IGD surplus. This credit reserve as at 31 December 2013 was £1.9 billion. This credit risk allowance represents 47 per cent of the bond portfolio spread over swap rates, compared to 40 per cent as at 31 December 2012.

Stress testing

(Unaudited)

As at 31 December 2013, stress testing of our IGD capital position to various events has the following results:

  • An instantaneous 20 per cent fall in equity markets from 31 December 2013 levels would reduce the IGD surplus by £50 million;
  • A 40 per cent fall in equity markets (comprising an instantaneous 20 per cent fall followed by a further 20 per cent fall over a four-week period) would reduce the IGD surplus by £250 million;
  • A 100 basis points reduction (subject to a floor of zero) in interest rates would reduce the IGD surplus by £50 million; and
  • Credit defaults of 10 times the expected level would reduce IGD surplus by £600 million.

We believe that the results of these stress tests, together with our strong underlying earnings capacity, our established hedging programmes and our additional areas of financial flexibility, demonstrate that we are in a position to withstand significant deterioration in market conditions.

We also use an economic capital assessment to monitor our capital requirements across the Group, allowing for realistic diversification benefits, and continue to maintain a strong position. This assessment provides valuable insights into our risk profile.

Economic capital position

(Unaudited)

Following provisional agreement on the Solvency II Omnibus II Directive on 13 November 2013, Solvency II is now expected to come into force on 1 January 2016. Therefore our economic capital results are based on outputs from our Solvency II internal model. Although the Solvency II and Omnibus II Directives, together with draft Level 2 ‘Delegated Acts’, provide a viable framework for the calculation of Solvency II results, there remain material areas of uncertainty and in many areas the Group’s methodology and assumptions are subject to review and approval by the Prudential Regulation Authority, the Group’s lead regulator. We do not expect to submit our Solvency II internal model to the Prudential Regulation Authority for approval until 2015, and therefore the economic capital position disclosed below should not be interpreted as output from an approved internal model.

At 31 December 2013 the Group has an economic capital3 surplus of £11.3 billion (2012: £8.8 billion) and an economic solvency ratio of 257 per cent (2012:215 per cent) before taking into account the 2013 final dividend.

Between full year 2012 and full year 2013, the Group economic capital surplus increased by £2.5 billion from £8.8 billion to £11.3 billion. The total movement over the year was equivalent to a 42 percentage point increase in the Group economic solvency ratio, driven by:

  • Model changes of £0.1 billion: a positive impact to Group surplus arising from a number of modelling enhancements and refinements;
  • Operating experience of £2.1 billion: generated by in-force business, new business written in 2013, the beneficial impact of management actions taken during 2013 to de-risk the business, and small impacts from non-market assumption changes and non-market experience variances over the year; and
  • Non-operating experience of £0.9 billion: mainly arising from positive market experience during 2013.

Offset by:

  • Other capital movements of £0.6 billion: a reduction in surplus from the acquisition of Thanachart Life and the preparation for sale of the Japanese life business, the negative impact of exchange rate movements, an increase in surplus from new subordinated debt issuances and a reduction in surplus due to dividend payments in 2013.

These results are based on outputs from our current Solvency II internal model, assessed against a draft set of rules and with a number of key working assumptions. Further explanation of the underlying methodology and assumptions is set out in note II of Additional unaudited financial information. By disclosing economic capital information at this stage, the directors of Prudential plc are seeking to provide an indication of the potential outcome of Solvency II based on the Group’s current interpretation of the draft rules. An update of the capital position based on the Solvency II internal model will be reported annually going forward, and will evolve to reflect changes to the Solvency II rules, ongoing refinements to our internal model calibrations, and feedback from the Prudential Regulation Authority on Prudential’s approach to implementing this new capital regime. Against this background of uncertainty, it is possible that the final outcome of Solvency II could result in a fall in the Group solvency ratio, relative to the results shown above.

Stress testing

At 31 December 2013, stress testing the economic capital position gives the following results and demonstrates the Group’s ability to withstand significant deteriorations in market conditions:

  • An instantaneous 20 per cent fall in equity markets would reduce surplus by £0.3 billion but increase the economic solvency ratio to 260 per cent;
  • An instantaneous 40 per cent fall in equity markets would reduce surplus by £1.0 billion but increase the economic solvency ratio to 258 per cent;
  • A 100 basis points reduction in interest rates (subject to a floor of zero) would reduce surplus by £1.3 billion and reduce the economic solvency ratio to 225 per cent;
  • A 100 basis points increase in interest rates would increase surplus by £0.8 billion and increase the economic solvency ratio to 284 per cent; and
  • A 100 basis points increase in credit spreads would reduce surplus by £1.3 billion and reduce the economic solvency ratio to 254 per cent.

Capital allocation

(Unaudited)

Our approach to capital allocation is to attain a balance between risk and return, investing in those businesses that create shareholder value. In order to efficiently allocate capital, we measure the use of, and the return on, capital.

We use a variety of metrics for measuring capital performance and profitability, including traditional accounting metrics and economic returns. Capital allocation decisions are supported by this quantitative analysis, as well as strategic considerations.

The economic framework measures risk adjusted returns on economic capital, a methodology that ensures meaningful comparison across the Group. Capital utilisation, return on capital and new business value creation are measured at the product level as part of the business planning process.

Notes

  1. Excludes Group’s proportionate share in joint ventures and unit-linked assets and holdings of consolidated unit trusts and similar funds.
  2. Jackson previously reported IGD on an intervention level set at 75 per cent of US Risk Based Capital Company Action level (CAL). In March 2013 it was agreed with the PRA that going forward Jackson’s IGD will be reported on an intervention level set at 250 per cent of CAL.
  3. The methodology and assumptions used in calculating the economic capital result are set out in note II of Additional unaudited financial information. The economic Solvency ratio is based on the Group’s Solvency II internal model which will be subject to Prudential Regulation Authority review and approval before its formal adoption in 2016. We do not expect to submit our Solvency II internal model to the Prudential Regulation Authority for approval until 2015 and therefore these economic capital disclosures should not be interpreted as outputs from an approved internal model.
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