Global Insurers Start Investing in Crypto Amid Risk-On Investment Approach
Global insurers aim to maintain a risk-on investment approach, with higher allocations to private equity, green bonds, and middle-market corporate loans, but also cryptoassets, according to a report by Goldman Sachs Insurance Asset Management.
The survey represents the views of 328 chief investment officers and chief financial officers handling more than USD 13tn in global balance sheet assets, per the report.
“In a sharp reversal from prior years, insurers now see rising inflation and tighter monetary policy as the largest threats to their portfolios. Amid strong wage growth and strong employment gains, the easy monetary policies of the pandemic-era are unwound and expected rate hikes are top of mind,” it said.
Commenting on the company’s findings, Mike Siegel, Global Head for Insurance Asset Management and Liquidity Solutions Businesses at the investment bank’s Asset Management arm, said that global insurers were also demonstrating a rising interest in crypto.
“This year, we surveyed for the first time on crypto, which I thought we would get no respondents. But I was surprised. A good 6% of the industry respondents indicated that they're either invested in crypto, or more specifically, considering investing in crypto,” he said.
The companies that are either invested (2%) or considering allocating their funds (4%) to crypto are doing so to better understand the market and the infrastructure, according to Siegel.
“But if this becomes a transactable currency, they want to have the ability down the road to denominate policies in crypto. And also accept premium in crypto, just like they do in, say, dollars or yen or sterling or euro,” the executive said.
Also, per the report, American insurers are slightly more interested, with
11% currently invested or considering investing in cryptoassets, compared to Asian insurers at 6%, and European insurers at 1%.
However, views are still mixed when it comes to the expected profitability of crypto investments. At the same time, cryptoassets were ranked among the top 5 asset classes that are expected to deliver the highest and lowest total returns in the next 12 months.
In either case, 1% of the respondents said they're planning to increase their allocation to cryptoassets in the next 12 months, 7% are planning to maintain their current allocation, and no one is planning to sell it.
"As the crypto market continues to mature, coupled with growing regulatory certainty, a cross-section of institutions are becoming more confident to explore investment opportunities as well as recognizing the disruptive impact of the underlying blockchain technology. I have been positively
surprised by the rising adoption by global asset managers, who clearly recognize the potential of this market," Mathew McDermott, Global Head of Digital Assets at Goldman Sachs Insurance Asset Management, was quoted as saying.
Some of the main macroeconomic risks highlighted by the respondents include inflation, at 28%, the US monetary tightening, with a 20% share, and credit and equity market volatility, at 18%, followed by the economic slowdown/recession in the US and Europe, with a 16% and 5% share, respectively.
While investment uncertainty remains strong, 2022 respondents are more optimistic than those interviewed last year and in 2020, with 63% declaring the investment landscape was either the same or improving, according to the report.
“Respondents remain focused on yield-enhancing asset classes, as seen by continued interest in private market opportunities. Although reinvestment rates have begun to rise in 2022, insurers expressed continued interest in alternative investments as a driver of returns,” Goldman Sachs Insurance Asset Management said.
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