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How 6 Regions' Insurance Investment Managers Rate Geopolitical Risk

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Insurance company investment managers are a lot more nervous in some parts of the world than others.

Analysts in the Boston office of Natixis Investment Managers have published data on what scares insurance company investment professionals today in a new batch of survey data.

(Related: U.S. Portfolio Performance Surpassed European Peers in 2017)

Natixis — an arm of Group BPCE of Paris — could benefit from the insurance company investment managers’ fear: Natixis is hoping that insurers will hire it to help guide them through choppy economic waters.

Natixis recently surveyed about 200 insurance company investment professionals in six world regions: the Asia Pacific region, France, Germany, the Nordic region, the region that includes the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the United States. (The Nordic region includes both Scandinavia and parts of the Scandinavian countries that, technically, do not include the islands controlled by the Scandinavian countries.)

The sample included property and casualty company investment managers as well as life and annuity company investment managers.

Natixis found that the top portfolio risk concern, overall, was interest rates.

(Related: 7 Reasons Low, Low Interest Rates Could Make Us Sick)

David Goodsell, the head of a Natixis analysis arm, said in a statement about the survey results that insurers have been squeezed by the low-yield environment for a decade.

“The likes of private debt, private equity and other alternative investments provide a potential fix to underwhelming returns in the bond market, where insurers have traditionally turned to in the hope of finding stable returns to match their liabilities,” Goodwell said in the statement. “We find that increasingly the industry is willing to take on liquidity risk in pursuit of higher yields to balance alpha generation with the cost of capital, while protecting assets against drawdown.”

The survey participants also rated four other potential sources of portfolio risk.

About 73% of the participants ranked interest rates as their top source of terror.

An economic slowdown ranked second, at 61%, and geopolitical factors ranked third, at 48%.

Market volatility came in fourth, with 46% naming that as a top risk.

Just 34% rated regulations as top concern.

The U.S. survey participants trembled more than the world average at the thought of all of the risks aside from regulations: Just 15% of the U.S. participants rated regulations as a top worry.

To see where U.S. insurance company investment managers stand in terms of horror at the thought of geopolitical factors, see the data cards in the slideshow above. (Wiggle your pointer over the first slide to make the control arrows show up.)

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