IFRS 17: Time for a new coat of paint for old actuarial models

Actuarial systems are a cornerstone of the IFRS 9/17 initiative as they produce much of the P&L and disclosures. PwC’s comprehensive white paper «IFRS 9/17 in turbulent times» – to be published on Tuesday January 15, 2019 – analyses how you can ensure that your actuarial systems are accurate, cost-efficient and well connected to other financial systems.

Smart compliance in turbulent times

The one-year postponement of the IFRS 9/17 deadline is giving insurers additional time for the implementation of the standard and for the alignment of their internal systems. This extra year could be used to re-evaluate the roadmap, address historical issues, tackle data-related challenges, and reflect on how to comply with IFRS 17 in a smart way without spending a fortune by undergoing a complete financial transformation. Actuarial systems are a cornerstone of the initiative, as they produce much of the P&L and disclosures. Their accuracy therefore is a top priority, but so is their cost efficiency.

In this context, most companies have already decided against building a new actuarial model for IFRS 17, as such a move is not deemed cost-efficient. Most insurers are beginning to adjust functionality within the risk-based reporting modules for IFRS 17 such as MCEV, Solvency II or best-estimate modelling. Prototypes producing simplified results for specific product lines are proving insightful for the wider reporting. Albeit this clarifies the accuracy issues, the cost of the implementation process remains a challenge.

The fact that IFRS 17 requires disclosure of the movements in the balance sheet and income statements line items means that a bulk of additional data will be needed in the future. This excludes all the data and process time needed for dry-runs, testing and validation. Actuarial functions will therefore need to manage more data, create more actuarial calculations and carefully control how the outputs are transferred to the ledger.

Focus on content with smart software

PwC’s white paper «IFRS 9/17 in turbulent times» reviews some of the tools and script languages that are currently available on the market that can ensure that your actuarial systems are well connected to the surrounding systems and that they enable a seamless data exchange.

PowerShell, Python, Jscript or VBScript, e.g., can provide customised solutions. But simpler solutions, too, may be an option. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions (UIPath, Automation Anywhere and Blue Prism) allow the automation of setting-up assumptions across multiple departments. Other tools for data processing make for efficient translation of the policyholder data into the new model points that are needed for production. Similarly, visualisation of the results can be accelerated with the help of the appropriate tools.

Such solutions can quickly improve the corresponding production process, but, more importantly, they can be deployed in the short term to address resource challenges around financial impact analyses, dry-runs and validation testing – and can therefore significantly reduce run time during development and testing phase.

Being able to leverage process management software during this project phase can ensure that scarce actuarial and finance resources are focused on analysing what the numbers mean and not on simply cutting and pasting between Excel files. Dedicating part of the additional year to addressing these process and data issues is a smart way to comply with IFRS 17 in time, but also a smart and cost-efficient long-term business strategy.

How to make use of an extra year

Many insurers have decided against building a new actuarial model for IFRS 17 for its lack of cost efficiency, however, they must be reminded that the new standard requires the disclosure of the movements in the balance sheet and income statements line items. In the future, actuarial systems will need to be able to manage much more data than ever before. Insurers could use the one-year postponement of IFRS 17 to review their process management software.

The deployment of smart process management software is undoubtedly useful to ensure the successful and cost-efficient implementation of IFRS 17. It will make project managers focus on what really matters: content instead of cutting and pasting numbers.

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