C: Group risk management

As a provider of financial services, including insurance, the management of risk lies at the heart of the Group's business. 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.

The Group's internal control processes are detailed in the Group Governance Manual. This is supported by the Group Risk Framework, which provides an overview of the Group-wide philosophy and approach to risk management. Where appropriate, more detailed policies and procedures have been developed at Group and/or business unit levels. These include Group-wide mandatory policies on certain operational risks, including: health, safety, fraud, money laundering, bribery, business continuity, information security and operational security, and policies on certain financial risks. Additional guidelines are provided for some aspects of actuarial and financial activity.

Prudential's risk governance framework requires that all of the Group's businesses and functions establish processes for identifying, evaluating and managing the key risks faced by the Group. The risk governance framework is based on the concept of 'three lines of defence': Risk management; risk 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, and with the Group Chief Executive and the chief executive of each business unit. Risk oversight is provided by Group-level risk committees, chaired by the Group Chief Risk Officer or the Chief Financial Officer. Independent assurance on the Group's internal control and risk management systems is provided by the Group Audit Committee, supported by the Group-wide Internal Audit.

The Group's risk reporting framework forms an important part of the Group's business planning process. Business units review their risks as part of the annual preparation of their business plans and review opportunities and risks against business objectives regularly with Group executive management.

Additional information on the Group's risk framework is included in the risk and capital management section of the Group's business review.

The management of the risk attached to the Group's financial instruments and insurance liabilities, together with the inter-relationship with the management of capital may be summarised in the following sections.

The Group risk appetite framework sets out the Group's appetite for risk exposures as well as the approach to risk management and return optimisation. The Group defines and monitors aggregate risk limits for its earnings volatility and its capital requirements based on financial and non-financial stresses.

i Earnings volatility:

The objectives of the limits are to ensure that (a) the volatility of earnings is consistent with stakeholder 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 the Group's funding strategies. The two measures applied to monitor the volatility of the Group's earnings are International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) operating profit based on longer-term investment returns and European Embedded Value (EEV) operating profit based on longer-term investment returns although IFRS and EEV total profits are also considered.

ii Capital requirements:

The limits aim to ensure that (a) the Group meets its internal economic capital requirements, (b) the Group achieves its desired target rating to meet its business objectives, and (c) supervisory intervention is avoided. The two measures applied by the Group are the EU Insurance Groups Directive (IGD) capital requirements and internal economic capital requirements. In addition, the Group also monitors capital requirements on a local statutory basis.

Business units must establish suitable market, credit, insurance and liquidity limits that maintain financial risk exposures within the defined Group risk appetite.

The Group's risk appetite framework forms an integral part of its annual business planning cycle. The 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.

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, the Group sets counterparty risk limits at Group level. The limits on the total Group-wide exposures to a single counterparty are specified within different credit rating 'categories'. Group Risk and the Group Credit Risk Committee monitor the Group's actual exposures against these limits on at least a monthly basis, escalating matters to Group Executive Risk Committee as appropriate.

The Group manages its actual risk profile against its tolerance of risk. To do this, the Group maintains risk registers that include details of the identified risks and of the controls and mitigating actions employed in managing them. Any mitigation strategies involving large transactions, such as a material derivative transaction, are subject to scrutiny at Group level before implementation.

The Group uses 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 limit insurance risk; implementing corporate insurance programmes to limit the impact of operational risks; and revising business plans where appropriate.

i Use of derivatives

In the UK business, equity exposure is incurred in the with-profits fund, and it includes a large inherited estate. The inherited estate itself is partially protected against falls in equity markets by a derivative hedging portfolio.

In the US, to protect the shareholders against the volatility introduced by embedded options, Jackson uses both a comprehensive hedging programme and reinsurance. Jackson makes use of the natural offsets that exist between the variable annuity guarantees and the fixed index annuity book, and then uses a combination of OTC options and futures to hedge the residual risk, allowing for significant market shocks and limiting the amount of capital at risk. Internal positions are generally netted before any external hedge positions are considered. Jackson manages fixed annuity interest rate exposure through a combination of interest rate swaps and interest rate options, to protect capital against rates rising quickly and through the contractual ability to reset crediting rates annually.

Prudential principally operates in the UK, the US, and in 13 countries in Asia. The geographical diversity of the Group's business means that Prudential is inevitably subject to the risk of exchange rate fluctuations. The Group does not generally seek to hedge foreign currency revenues, as these are substantially retained locally to support the growth of the Group's business and meet local regulatory and market requirements. However, in cases where a surplus arising in an overseas operation supports Group capital or shareholders' interest, this exposure is hedged if it is economically optimal to do so. Currency borrowings, swaps and other derivatives are used to manage exposures.

Further details of the Group's use of derivatives are explained in note G3.

ii Asset/liability management

Prudential manages its assets and liabilities locally, in accordance with local regulatory requirements and reflecting the differing types of liabilities of each business unit. Stochastic asset/liability modelling is carried out locally by business units to perform dynamic solvency testing and assess capital requirements. Reserve adequacy testing under a range of scenarios and dynamic solvency analysis is carried out, including under certain scenarios mandated by the US, the UK and Asian regulators.

A stochastic approach models the inter-relationship between asset and liability movements, taking into account asset correlation and policyholder behaviour, under a large number of possible scenarios. These scenarios are projected forward over a period of time, typically 25 years, and the liabilities and solvency position of the fund are calculated in each scenario in each future year. This allows the identification of which extreme scenarios will have the most adverse effects and what the best estimate outcome may be. The fund's policy on management actions, including bonus and investment policy, is then set in order that they are consistent with the available capital and the targeted risk of default. This differs from a deterministic model, which would only consider the results from one carefully selected scenario.

For businesses that are most sensitive to interest rate changes, such as immediate annuity business, Prudential uses cash flow analysis to create a portfolio of fixed income securities whose value changes in line with the value of liabilities when interest rates change. This type of analysis helps protect profits and the capital position from changing interest rates. In the UK, the cash flow analysis is used in Prudential's annuity business while, in the US, it is used for its interest-sensitive and fixed index annuities and stable value products such as Guaranteed Investment Contracts (GICs). Perfect matching is not possible, for example because of the nature of the liabilities (which might include guaranteed surrender values) and options for prepayment contained in the assets or the unavailability of assets with a sufficiently long duration.

For businesses that are most sensitive to equity price changes, Prudential uses stochastic modelling and scenario testing to look at the expected future returns on its investments under different scenarios that best reflect the large diversity in returns that equities can produce. This allows Prudential to devise an investment and with-profits policyholder bonus strategy that, on the model assumptions, allows it to optimise returns to its policyholders and shareholders over time, while maintaining appropriate financial strength. Prudential uses this method extensively in connection with its UK with-profits business.

All of Prudential's investments are held either for risk management or investment purposes. This is because almost all of the investments support policyholder or customer liabilities of one form or another. Any assets that Prudential holds centrally that are not supporting customer liabilities are predominantly invested in short-term fixed income and fixed maturity securities.

The Group has contingency plans in place for a range of operational risk scenarios, including incident management and business continuity plans. As a contingency plan for liquidity risk, the Group has arranged access to committed revolving credit facilities and committed securities lending facilities.

The Group publishes separately within 'Additional Information' of its Group Annual Report a section on key risk factors, which discusses inherent risks in the business and trading environment.

i Market risks

Market risk is the risk that arises from adverse changes in the value of, or income from, assets and changes in interest rates or exchange rates.

Equity and interest rate risk

Prudential faces equity risk and interest rate risk because most of its assets are investments that are either equity type investments and subject to equity price risk, or bonds, mortgages or cash deposits, the values of which are subject to interest rate risk. The amount of risk borne by Prudential's shareholders depends on the extent to which its customers share the investment risk through the structure of Prudential's products.

The split of Prudential's investments between equity investments and interest-sensitive instruments depends principally on the type of liabilities supported by those investments and the amount of capital Prudential has available. The nature of some liabilities allows Prudential to invest a substantial portion of its investment funds in equity and property investments that Prudential believes produce greater returns over the long term. On the other hand Prudential has some liabilities that contain guaranteed returns and allow instant access (for example, interest-sensitive fixed annuities and immediate annuities), which generally will be supported by fixed income investments.

Foreign exchange risk

Prudential faces foreign exchange risk, primarily because its presentation currency is pounds sterling, whereas approximately 73 per cent of Prudential's operating profit from continuing operations based on longer-term investment returns, as described in note B1, for the year ended 31 December 2010, came from US and Asian operations. The exposure relating to the translation of reported earnings is not separately managed although its impact is reduced by interest payments on foreign currency borrowings and by the adoption of average exchange rates for the translation of foreign currency revenues.

Approximately 79 per cent of the Group's IFRS basis shareholders' equity at 31 December 2010 arose in Prudential's US and Asian operations (2009: approximately 77 per cent). To mitigate the exposure of the US component there are US$2.3 billion of borrowings held centrally, which are formally designated as net investment hedges at 31 December 2010. Net of the currency position arising from these borrowings some 61 per cent of the Group's shareholders' funds are represented by net assets in currencies other than sterling.

Additional details on the market risks' exposures of the UK, US and Asian insurance operations are provided in notes D2, D3 and D4, respectively.

ii Credit risk

Credit risk is the risk of loss if another party fails to meet its obligations, or fails to do so in a timely fashion. Credit risk is the Group's most significant financial risk.

Some of Prudential's businesses, in particular Jackson, the PAC with-profits fund and Prudential's UK pension annuity business hold large amounts of interest-sensitive investments that contain credit risk on which a certain level of defaults is expected. These expected losses are considered when Prudential determines the crediting rates, deposit rates and premium rates for the products that will be supported by these assets. The key shareholder business exposed to credit risks is Jackson. Certain over-the-counter derivatives contain a credit risk element that is controlled through evaluation of collateral agreements and master netting agreements on interest rate and currency swaps. Prudential is also exposed to credit-related losses in the event of non-performance by counterparties.

Further analysis of the credit quality of debt securities held by the Group is shown in note B6. Additional details on the credit quality of the debt security portfolios of UK, US and Asian insurance operations are shown in notes D2, D3 and D4, respectively.

iii Liquidity risk

Liquidity risk is the risk that a business, though solvent on a balance sheet basis, either does not have the financial resources to meet its obligations as they fall due or can secure them only at excessive cost. The assets of insurers are in general relatively liquid, whilst liabilities to policyholders are mainly illiquid. Accordingly, for insurers, the focus of managing liquidity risk concentrates on parent capital and liquidity measures. Prudential regularly monitors and analyses its liquidity position at the Group level and performs stress tests of this position. The liquidity of the Group is monitored on a monthly basis by comparing the predicted cash needs of the Group centre, to meet corporate and financing costs (net of expected dividends from the business units), to the liquid resources available to it. These liquid resources include cash held and cash that could be raised through internal resources (for example by reporting unencumbered bonds). Base case and stress scenarios are reported monthly to the Balance Sheet and Capital Management Committee. The main stress is the assumption that the external financing markets are completely closed to Prudential, so no new external funding can be obtained, and existing funding cannot be rolled over. In addition, Group liquidity risk reports are prepared regularly. In summary, these address the sufficiency of external back-up lines, internal sources of liquidity, and monitor how external liabilities and other commitments over the next 12 months compare with internal and external sources. Currently, the parent company has significant internal resources of liquidity which are sufficient to meet all of its foreseeable future needs without having to utilise external funding. The Group maintains £2.1 billion of undrawn syndicated and bilateral committed banking facilities, maturing between 2011 and 2015.

iv Insurance risk

Insurance risk is the inherent uncertainty as to the occurrence, amount and timing of insurance liabilities. This includes adverse mortality, morbidity and persistency experience.

Prudential needs to make assumptions about a number of factors in determining the pricing of its products and for reporting the results of its long-term business operations. In common with other industry participants, the profitability of the Group's businesses depends on a mix of factors including mortality and morbidity trends, persistency, investment performance, unit cost of administration and new business acquisition expenses.

For example, the assumption that Prudential makes about future expected levels of mortality is particularly relevant for its UK annuity business where, in exchange for their accumulated pension fund, pension annuity policyholders receive a guaranteed payment, for as long as they live. Prudential conducts extensive research into longevity risk using data from its substantial annuitant portfolio. As part of its pension annuity pricing and reserving policy, Prudential UK assumes that current rates of mortality continuously improve over time at levels based on adjusted data from the Continuous Mortality Investigations (CMI) projections as published by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Prudential's persistency assumptions reflect recent past experience for each relevant line of business, and any expectations of future persistency. Where appropriate, allowance is also made for the relationship, which is either assumed or historically observed, between persistency and investment returns, and for the resulting additional risk.

v Non-financial risks – operational, business environment and strategic risk

Operational risk is the risk of direct or indirect loss resulting from inadequate or failed internal processes, people or systems, or from external events. This includes legal and regulatory compliance risk. Business environment risk may arise from exposure to forces in the external environment that could significantly change the fundamentals that drive the business's overall objectives and strategy. Strategic risk may arise from 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.

Prudential is exposed to operational, business environment and strategic risk in the course of running its businesses. Prudential processes a large number of complex transactions across numerous and diverse products, and is subject to a number of different legal and regulatory, including tax, regimes. Prudential also has a significant number of third-party relationships that are important to the distribution and processing of its products, both as market counterparties and as business partners. This results in reliance upon the operational performance of these outsourcing partners.

The Group uses the qualitative and quantitative analysis of operational risk exposures material to the Group to support business decision making and lessons learned activities; the ongoing improvement of the control environment; the informing of overall levels of capital held; and determination of the adequacy of Prudential's corporate insurance programme.

With regard to business environment risk, the Group has a wide-ranging programme of active and constructive engagement with governments, policymakers and regulators in our key markets and with relevant international institutions, undertaken both directly and indirectly via trade associations. The Group has procedures in place to monitor and track political and regulatory developments. Where appropriate, the Group provides submissions and technical input to officials and others, either via submissions to formal consultations or through interactions with officials.

With regard to strategic risk, business units and the Group Head Office are required to adopt a forward-looking approach to risk management by performing risk assessments as part of the annual strategic planning process. This supports the identification of potential threats and the initiatives needed to address them, as well as competitive opportunities. The impact on the underlying business unit and/or Group-wide risk profile is also considered to ensure that strategic initiatives are within the Group's risk appetite.

Regulatory capital requirements apply at an individual company level for the Group's life assurance and asset management business. These are described in sections D5 and E3 respectively.

In addition, the Group as a whole is subject to the capital adequacy requirements of the European Union (EU) Insurance Groups Directive (IGD) as implemented by the FSA in the UK. The IGD pertains to groups whose activities are primarily concentrated in the insurance sector. The IGD capital adequacy requirements involves aggregating surplus capital held in our regulated subsidiaries, from which Group borrowings, except those subordinated debt issues that qualify as capital, are deducted. No credit for the benefit of diversification is permitted under this approach. The test is passed when this aggregate number is positive: a negative result at any point in time is a notifiable breach of UK regulatory requirements.

Due to the geographically diverse nature of Prudential's operations, the application of these requirements to Prudential is complex. In particular, for many of the Group's Asian operations the assets, liabilities and capital requirements have to be recalculated based on FSA regulations as if the companies were directly subject to FSA regulation.

The FSA has established a structure for determining how much hybrid debt can count as capital which is similar to that used for banks. It categorises capital as Tier 1 (equity and preference shares), Upper Tier 2 and Lower Tier 2. Up to 15 per cent of Tier 1 capital can be in the form of hybrid debt and is called 'Innovative Tier 1'. At 31 December 2010 the Group held £1,463 million (2009: £1,422 million) of Innovative Tier 1 capital in the form of perpetual securities, £nil (2009: £nil) of Upper Tier 2 and £1,255 million (2009: £1,269 million) of Lower Tier 2 capital. In addition, Jackson held £159 million of surplus notes at the end of the financial year 2010 (2009: £154 million) which, although the US does not have a similar capital categorisation under its regulatory framework, are akin to the FSA's Lower Tier 2 Capital and have been disclosed as such in note H13. Further details on Group borrowings are shown in note H13.

At 31 December 2009, Prudential met the requirements of the IGD with £3.4 billion of surplus capital before allowing for the 2009 final dividend. In addition, during 2010, Prudential met the requirements of the FSA under the IGD. The IGD position as at 31 December 2010 will be submitted to the FSA by 30 April 2011 and at the time of preparation of these financial statements the surplus capital under the test was estimated to be around £4.3 billion before allowing for the 2010 final dividend giving a solvency ratio of circa 305 per cent. The main components of the increase in IGD surplus during 2010 are:

  • Net capital generation mainly through operating earnings (in-force releases less investment in new business) of £1.7 billion;
  • Release of tax provisions of £0.2 billion;
  • Foreign exchange movements of positive £0.1 billion;
  • Offset by dividend payments, external financing costs and other central costs, costs incurred in relation to the terminated AIA transaction and inadmissible assets arising on the purchase of UOB's life assurance subsidiary in Singapore.

Prudential's approach to capital allocation takes into account a range of factors, especially risk adjusted returns on capital, the impact of alternative capital measurement bases (accounting, regulatory, economic and ratings agency assessments), tax efficiency, and wider strategic objectives.

Prudential optimises capital allocation across the Group by using a consistent set of capital performance metrics across all business units to ensure meaningful comparison. Capital utilisation, return on capital and new business value creation are measured at a product level. The use of these capital performance metrics is embedded into our decision-making processes for product design and product pricing.

Prudential's capital performance metrics are based on economic capital, which provides a view of our capital requirements across the Group, allowing for realistic diversification benefits. Economic capital also provides valuable insights into our risk profile and is used both for risk measurement and capital management.

 

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