Private equity was the most-favored asset class for insurers seeking to increase investment returns, followed by middle market corporate loans and infrastructure debt, the survey said.
Private equity returns in the past 10 years “have been strong and have outperformed other asset classes,” Michael Siegel, global head of insurance asset management at GSA, told a media briefing, which he said helped explain consistent insurer interest in the asset class in recent years.
Thirty-eight percent of respondents plan to increase their allocation to private equity and 23% to maintain existing positions, with only 1% planning to reduce. The remainder of respondents don’t invest in private equity.
But only 5% plan to up allocations to hedge funds, and 6% aim to cut.
Hedge fund returns have been “modest” in the last decade, Siegel said, adding they were expensive for insurers to hold in terms of capital requirements in some jurisdictions.
Risk appetite overall was stronger than average, according to the survey, which is in its 10th year. Insurers have become optimistic that the United States will avoid a recession in the next three years, with 62% of respondents taking that view.
Concern over environmental, social and governance issues has grown, with 83% of global insurers taking such risks into consideration in the 2021 survey, compared with 32% in 2017.
But the global pandemic remained the top geopolitical risk for insurers over the next 12 months, ahead of the U.S.-China trade conflict and U.S. politics.
The global survey of insurance chief investment and financial officers had 286 respondents representing $13 trillion in assets under management.
(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; editing by Steve Orlofsky)
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