Financial Stability Board Says U.S. Should Empower Federal Insurance Office, Enhance Group Supervision
Aug 28, 2013
Empowering the Federal Insurance Office (“FIO”) and enhancing group supervision were among the recommendations made by the Financial Stability Board (“FSB”) in its assessment of the United States published yesterday, August 27, 2013.
To view the complete report, click here.
While good overall progress has been made by the U.S. in following up on the recommendations made by the International Monetary Fund under the 2010 Financial Sector Assessment Program, implementation of those recommendations has been slower in relation to insurance supervision, the FSB said.
According to the report, the architecture for insurance supervision in the U.S. is characterized by a multiplicity of state regulators, the absence of federal regulatory powers to promote greater regulatory uniformity and limited rights to pre-empt state law. This constrains the ability of the U.S. to ensure regulatory uniformity in the insurance sector, the FSB explained.
To rectify this, the FSB recommends that the U.S. should consider migrating towards a more federal and streamlined structure to achieve greater regulatory uniformity. Among the report’s other recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of insurance supervision are:
- The enabling of enhanced monitoring by the FIO of the insurance sector and a further strengthening of the agency to empower it to take action on issues;
- A further enhancement of U.S. insurance group supervision by introducing requirements for consolidated financial reporting for all insurance groups and by giving lead supervisors additional powers to fully assess the financial condition of the entire insurance group; and
- The enabling U.S. state authorities to implement the International Monetary Fund’s Financial Sector Assessment Program recommendation on the terms of state commissioners’ appointments, the rulemaking powers of state insurance departments, and their funding and staffing to bolster specialist skills.
The FSB’s news release on the report is reprinted in near-entirety below.
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The FSB published its peer review of the United States yesterday, August 27, 2013.
The report examines the progress made in the U.S. on three topics that are important for financial stability and relevant for the broader FSB membership: systemic risk oversight arrangements; supervision and oversight of financial market infrastructures (“FMIs”); and insurance supervision. To a large extent, the reforms analyzed in the FSB’s review focus on the need to ensure effective and efficient coordination and information sharing arrangements and to address any overlaps or gaps in the roles and responsibilities of the relevant US agencies, given the complex and fragmented US regulatory and supervisory structure.
Good overall progress has been made by the US authorities in following up on the recommendations made by the International Monetary Fund under the 2010 Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) on the above three topics, particularly as regards systemic risk oversight arrangements and the supervision and oversight of FMIs. Progress in implementing the FSAP recommendations has been less advanced in the case of insurance supervision.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act addressed the systemic risk oversight gap in the US regulatory framework by creating the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) and by making it directly accountable to Congress. To support the activities of the FSOC and its member agencies, the Dodd-Frank Act also created the Office of Financial Research within the Treasury Department. The peer review found that good progress has been made to date by the FSOC to establish systemic oversight arrangements and made some recommendations to further enhance its effectiveness. These involve:
- developing a more systematic, analytical and transparent macroprudential framework for coordinating the work of its member agencies to address systemic risk;
- providing a more in-depth and holistic analysis of systemic risks to financial stability;
- enhancing the role of the Office of Financial Research in supporting its activities; and
- revising (and potentially expanding) its public communication.
Substantial progress has been made by the relevant US agencies (Federal Reserve Board, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission) in strengthening the oversight and supervision of systemically important FMIs. In terms of further strengthening the FMI framework, the peer review recommends that:
- the US agencies should continue to enhance cooperation with foreign regulators with respect to US-based and relevant foreign FMIs, in line with international guidance;
- they should consider publishing an indicative timeline for implementing the Principles for Financial Market Infrastructures (PFMIs) to enhance regulatory transparency; and
- they should continue to strengthen liquidity risk management for financial market utilities designated as systemically important.
These issues are particularly relevant given the global importance of US-based FMIs and the increasing reliance of some US-based market participants on FMIs in other jurisdictions.
The US federal and state authorities have also begun to address the FSAP recommendations on the insurance sector. In particular, the Federal Insurance Office was established under the Dodd-Frank Act; the FSOC recently designated an insurance company as systemically important, which will be subject to enhanced regulation and supervision by the Federal Reserve Board; information sharing and coordination between US state regulators and federal authorities has increased; and state authorities have taken useful steps to improve insurance group supervision, modernise solvency requirements, and improve disclosures required for securities lending operations by insurance companies.
Despite these accomplishments, however, significant additional work is required to fully address the FSAP recommendations in this area. The architecture for insurance supervision in the US, characterised by the multiplicity of state regulators, the absence of federal regulatory powers to promote greater regulatory uniformity and the limited rights to pre-empt state law, constrains the ability of the US to ensure regulatory uniformity in the insurance sector. Given the drawbacks of the current regulatory set-up, the US authorities should consider whether migration towards a more federal and streamlined structure may be a more effective means of achieving greater regulatory uniformity. The report sets out several other recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of insurance supervision, including:
- the Federal Insurance Office to enhance its monitoring of the insurance sector and be further strengthened to be able to take action to address issues and gaps identified;
- the US authorities to further enhance insurance group supervision by introducing requirements for consolidated financial reporting for all insurance groups and by giving lead supervisors additional powers to fully assess the financial condition of the entire insurance group; and
the US state authorities to implement the FSAP recommendation concerning the terms of state commissioners’ appointments, the rulemaking powers of state insurance departments, and their funding and staffing to bolster specialist skills.
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