Risk oversight

Group risk appetite

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

  1. Earnings volatility: the objectives of the limits are to ensure that, (a) the volatility of our earnings is consistent with our stakeholders' expectations, (b) the Group has adequate earnings (and cash flows) to service debt, expected dividends and to withstand unexpected shocks, and (c) earnings (and cash flows) are managed properly across geographies and are consistent with our funding strategies. The two measures we apply to monitor the volatility of our earnings are European Embedded Value (EEV) operating profit and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) operating profit, although EEV and IFRS total profits are also considered.
  2. Capital requirements: the limits aim to ensure that, (a) the Group meets its capital requirements at all times including EU Insurance Groups Directive (IGD) capital requirements, (b) the Group achieves its desired target rating to meet its business objectives, and (c) supervisory intervention is avoided. In addition, we also monitor capital requirements on a local statutory basis.

Our risk appetite framework forms an integral part of our annual business planning cycle. Our Group Risk function monitors the Group's risk profile against the agreed limits. Using submissions from business units, Group Risk calculates the Group's aggregated position (allowing for diversification effects between business units) relative to the limits implied by the risk appetite statements.

We use a two-tier approach to apply the limits at business unit level. Firstly, we calculate business unit risk limits. These ensure that, provided each business unit keeps within its limits, the Group risk position will remain within the Group limits. Secondly, the impact on the risk position is considered as part of Group Risk's scrutiny of large transactions or departures from plan proposed by individual business units.

In the event that the business unit plans imply risk limits will be exceeded, this will necessitate a dialogue between the executive and the relevant business unit or units. Exceeding Group limits may be avoided if, for example, limits in other business units are not fully utilised, or if the diversification effect at Group level of a particular risk with other business units means the Group limit is not breached.

Market risk is managed such that as conditions evolve the risk profile is maintained within risk appetite. In addition to business unit operational limits on credit risk, we set counterparty risk limits at Group level. The limits on our total Group-wide exposures to a single counterparty are specified within different credit rating 'categories'. The Group Risk and the Group Credit Risk Committee monitor our actual exposures against these limits on at least a monthly basis, escalating matters to Group Executive Risk Committee (GERC) as appropriate.

 

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