Europe’s chequered readiness for Solvency II

Key points: Northern Europe better prepared than southern neighbours. German industry mastered Pillar 1and taking advantage of VAG synergies. France has closer focus on Pillar 3 than other nations. Much work to do.

Ahead of the Solvency II D-day on January 1 2016, look-through data specialist Silverfinch has spoken with experts across Europe to identify the issues faced by the different countries to implement the new rules. The continent presents a chequered picture, says Silverfinch.

Following conversations with hundreds of industry professionals from the continent’s largest insurance and asset management markets over the past two years, Silverfinch says that while larger countries with the most advanced financial infrastructure are better prepared than their smaller neighbours, the attention upon different areas of reporting varies from country to country.

In Germany, thanks in large part to the synergies between Solvency II and the country’s own new regulations such as VAG, industry players are confident that they have mastered Pillar 1 requirements – dealing directly with the measurement of solvency for insurance companies.

However, in France, experts have focussed their attention on Pillar 3 relating to the reporting and dissemination of information on the financial health of the insurer. The overall message from the French industry figures seems to be that they are on track for all aspects of the directive – but of course this will only be seen once the new rules have come into force.

One of the main structural problems reported across the continent was tardiness at a European level in finalising some of the finer details of the regulation. This is compounded by issues in each country; for example Italy’s insurance industry is struggling to deal collectively with the new regulations because of the sharp divide in resources between the country’s few mega insurers and the raft of smaller companies underneath.

John Dowdall, managing director of Silverfinch said: “In spite of the deadline for new regulation looming, the fact remains there is much work to do. Across Europe, the majority of asset managers are aware of the benefits of helping their insurance clients with Solvency II, but how to respond to the new regulations has clearly split the continent.

“With different countries focussing on distinct pillars of the regulation and selecting various models for their data reporting, only time will tell who is best prepared. The one thing which is certain is that the financial regulation of the European Union is in for a shake-up.”

The full report – Europe: the Race to the Solvency II Finish Line – is available at the Silverfinch website.