Risk Management

Our risk appetite framework forms the basis for controlled risk-taking and protects our financial strengths.
Patrick Raaflaub, Group Chief Risk Officer, Swiss Re

Sound risk management is key to Swiss Re's financial strength
Effective risk management is an integral part of Swiss Re's business model and key to the controlled risk-taking that underpins our financial strength. The practice is embedded throughout our business - structurally and methodically - to ensure good risk taking.

Sound risk management is essential for a re/insurer. Tight control of our exposures guarantees that we can fulfil our role in society as ultimate risk-taker and be a reliable partner to our clients when they need us. The core categories of our risk landscape comprise

  • Insurance risk - property and casualty, life and health,
  • Financial market and credit risk

In addition, we pay close attention to further significant risks we may be exposed to, especially in the longer term. Sustainability, political, regulatory and emerging risks are particularly relevant in this respect. We have developed instruments and know-how that help us identify and assess all of them because of their potential to increase losses, for ethical reasons, or both.

Swiss Re's risk management is based on four fundamental principles
We apply these principles consistently across all risk categories at Group and legal entity level.

  • Controlled risk-taking - Financial strength and sustainable value creation are central to Swiss Re's value proposition. The Group thus operates with a clearly defined risk policy and risk control framework.
  • Clear accountability - Swiss Re's operations are based on the principle of delegated and clearly defined authority. Individuals are accountable for the risk they take on, and their incentives are aligned with Swiss Re's overall business objectives
  • Independent risk controlling - Dedicated units within Risk Management control all risk-taking activities. These are supported by Compliance and Group Internal Audit functions
  • Transparency - Transparency, knowledge sharing and responsiveness to change are integral to the risk control process. We create a culture of mutual trust, and reduce the likelihood of surprises in the sources and potential magnitude of losses

Swiss Re operates within a clearly defined Risk Control Framework
This comprises a body of standards that establish an internal control system for taking and managing risks. These standards set responsibilities for risk-takers and risk-controllers. The Risk Control Framework defines five key tasks, which are the core components of Swiss Re's risk management cycle:

  • Risk tolerance and appetite – ensures that the risk implications of plans are understood, and determines whether business and investment plans adhere to our Risk Appetite Framework
  • Risk identification – ensures that all risks to which Swiss Re is exposed are transparent in order to make them controllable and manageable
  • Risk measurement – allows Swiss Re to control its risk-taking decisions and total risk accumulations, including the passive risk we are exposed to through our operations
  • Risk reporting – creates internal risk transparency and enables Swiss Re to meet external disclosure requirements 

Swiss Re's risk-taking is steered by its Risk Appetite Framework
Our Risk Appetite Framework consists of two interlinked components: risk appetite and risk tolerance. The risk appetite statement facilitates discussions about where and how Swiss Re should deploy its capital, liquidity and other resources under a risk-return view, while the risk tolerance sets clear boundaries to risk-taking.

Our proprietary integrated risk model provides a meaningful assessment of the risks to which Swiss Re is exposed to and represents an important tool for managing our business. It determines the capital requirements for internal purposes and forms the basis for regulatory reporting under the Swiss Solvency Test (SST) and under Solvency II for our legal entities in continental Europe. With the approval of our internal model under FINMA's, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, revised process, we achieved a key milestone in 2017.

We continuously review and update our internal model and it's parameters to reflect our experiences and changes in the risk environment and current best practice.

Group Risk Management function is key to enabling sound risk taking across Swiss Re
Group Risk Management is a global function mandated to ensure that Swiss Re Group and legal entities have the necessary expertise, frameworks and infrastructure to support sound risk-taking. In addition, it monitors and ensures adherence to applicable frameworks and also performs reserving and reporting activities. Embedded throughout our business, we have Chief Risk Officers (CROs) and risk teams for all major legal entities and regions. There are closely aligned to Swiss Re's business structure in order to ensure effective risk oversight, but remain part of our Group Risk Management function under the Group CRO. They are supported in this by central risk teams that provide specialized risk expertise and oversight.