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European Group To EU: When You Make New Rules, Be Careful

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The head of a financial services giant says regulators and legislators should recognize that insurers are different from banks.

“Stakeholders reacting to the financial crisis need to take into account that the business model of the insurance industry differs substantially from that of the other financial services providers,” says Henri de Castries, chairman of AXA S.A., Paris.

“Insurers do not generate the kind of systemic risk that arises in banking,” de Castries says.

De Castries made his comments in a statement announcing the release of a paper about the regulatory effects of the financial crisis by the Pan European Insurance Forum, a group of large European insurance companies.

PEIF is recommended that any new legislation should be “targeted, balanced and calibrated according to the expected impact it will have on the economy.”

Any new legislation also “should safeguard the level-playing field and further enhance global consistency,” PEIF says.

De Castries and PEIF are recommending swift adoption of “Solvency 2,” a proposed financial services regulatory framework.

The Solvency 2 framework “is clearly more adapted to current financial circumstances,” de Castries says.

Regulators in the U.S., including members of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., have been studying Solvency 2 for 18 months.

The International Accounting Standards Stands Board, London, plans to vote on the Solvency 2 insurance provisions Wednesday.


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