39. Risk strategy
UNIQA’s strategic objectives are directly linked to the company’s risk strategy. We are conscious of our responsibility towards customers, employees and shareholders and consider it an obligation to safeguard the strength of our capital resources and our earnings capacity along with our brand reputation, including in a turbulent market environment.
Our business strategy and the risks that this involves form the cornerstones of our risk strategy. Clear definition of our risk preference creates the foundation for all of our business policy decisions.
We actively seek to assume technical risks, assume market risks and operational risks where the business model requires this, and attempt to avoid other accompanying risks. This forms the basis for consistently generating our income from our core business. We also strive to ensure a balanced mix of risk in order to achieve the greatest possible effect from diversification.
Our core business is to relieve our customers of risk, pool the risk to reduce it and thereby generate profit for our Company. Here, the focus is placed on understanding risks and their particular features.
To ensure that we keep our focus on risk, we have created a separate risk function on the Group’s Management Board with a Group Chief Risk Officer (CRO) who is also acting concurrently as Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO). In our Group companies, the Chief Risk Officer (CRO) is also a part of the Management Board. This ensures that decision-making is risk-based in all relevant bodies. We have established processes that allow us to identify, analyse and manage risks. Our business involves a large range of different risk types, which is why we employ specialists to identify and manage these.
We regularly validate our risk profile at all levels of the hierarchy and hold discussions in specially instituted committees with the members of the Management Board. We draw on internal and external sources to obtain a complete picture of our risk position. We regularly check for new threats both in the Group and in our subsidiaries.
Risk-bearing capacity and risk appetite
We take risks and do so in full knowledge of our risk-bearing capacity. We define this as our ability to absorb potential losses from extreme events so that our medium and long-term objectives are not put in danger.
At the centre of our risk decisions is our economic capital model (ECM), by means of which we quantify our risks and determine our own economic capital. The ECM is based on the standard model according to Solvency II and also reflects our own risk assessment. This is expressed in the quantification of the risks from the non-life sectors, in which we focus on a stochastic cash flow model, additional capital requirements of government bonds and a mark-to-market valuation of asset-backed securities. Based on this model, we are aiming for a risk capital cover (capital ratio) of between 155 per cent and 190 per cent. However, immediate steps will be taken to improve the capital position if the marginal value falls below 135 per cent.
We also seek external confirmation of the path we have chosen. Standard & Poor’s has given us a credit rating of “A–”. One of our key objectives is to maintain the rating at this level or to improve upon it.
Non-quantifiable risks, in particular operational risk, litigation risk and strategic risk are identified and assessed as part of the risk assessment process. This assessment is then used as the basis for implementing any necessary risk mitigation measures.
Our risk strategy specifies the risks we intend to assume and those we plan to avoid. As part of our strategy process, we define our risk appetite on the basis of our risk-bearing capacity. This risk appetite is then used to determine tolerances and limits, which provide us with an early warning system sufficient for us to initiate prompt corrective action should we deviate from our targets. We also consider risks outside our defined appetite. We counter risks that fall into this category, such as reputational risk, with proactive measures, transparency and careful assessment.
We analyse our income and the underlying risk, optimising our portfolio using value-based principles. We therefore strive for a balance between risk and return.
Risk also means opportunity. We regularly analyse trends and risks that influence our society and thus our customers and ourselves. We involve our employees in the whole of the business to identify and analyse trends at an early stage, produce suitable action plans and develop innovative approaches.