Norway’s Finanstilsynet stresses gravity of low rates for pension funds

first_imgIt added that, on top of this, the pension providers were having to meet higher technical provision levels because of rising longevity.Commenting on the upcoming introduction of the European Solvency II Directive on 1 January next year, the regulator said this regime would better reflect the risk inherent in the insurance business than previous solvency requirements had done. “This will be particularly evident in the case of life insurers whose insurance liabilities under the new solvency regime will be recognised at market value,” it said. However, since interest rates are at a low level, the change to the new regime will in some respects involve a big increase in the value of their liabilities compared with the situation now, Finanstilsynet said.“Life insurers are granted a transitional arrangement lasting 16 years in which to complete their technical provisioning,” it said. The regulator said this would ease the solvency requirement for life insurers for a period, but it pointed out that there would be no change in the underlying risk picture.Looking at the picture for the entire financial sector in Norway, Finanstilsynet focused in its report on how the fall in oil prices was affecting Norway’s heavily oil-dependent economy.Lower demand from the petroleum industry has led to much lower activity and hit profitability in sectors selling to the petroleum sector, it said.Finanstilsynet’s director general Morten Baltzersen said: “In the event of a severe setback affecting the Norwegian economy on a broad front, the banks could suffer heavy losses across several parts of their loan books.” The Norwegian financial regulator Finanstilsynet has highlighted the seriousness of the long-term low interest rate environment for the country’s pension providers in its 2015 financial trends report.Releasing the official report today, the regulator said: “The low interest rate level and prospects of low rates for a long period ahead pose a major challenge to pension providers.”It pointed out that a large portion of providers’ liabilities consisted of contracts that carried an annual guaranteed rate of return that was higher than current market interest rates. “Achieving sufficient return on pension assets in a low interest rate regime is difficult,” Finanstilsynet said.last_img

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