Increased regulation in financial services

The impact of regulatory changes – such as taxation, or rules governing savings – affects how insurers price and sell products and manage their risks. Changes can bring new competition; they can also open up new markets.

THE ISSUE

The financial sector has seen a lot of new regulation in recent years. In some cases, new laws regarding tax and data privacy have been introduced, in others, market reforms are going much further. 

The UK, for example, saw unprecedented pension reform, providing savers with more choice. Both the UK and the Netherlands saw the end of the broker commission system, which came fully into effect in 2016. 

In the US, the Dodd Frank reforms led to significant restructuring of financial regulations over the past several years, and in Central and Eastern Europe, a number of governments restructured their countries’ pension systems.

Companies need to dedicate significant financial and human resources to comply with all existing and new regulation and to ensure it does not cause inefficiencies. 

For customers, increased regulation can mean more expense, and more complexity, such as an increase in the amount of personal data to be collected. 

The implementation effect of various rules requires an increase in administrative staff, process steps and, as a result, costs. However, increased regulation serves an important purpose, to protect the financial system, to hold companies accountable, and to safeguard customer’s interests.

OUR APPROACH

The Dutch Central Bank (DNB), the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), and the European Central Bank (ECB) – as well as other supervisory authorities – have their own guidelines and priorities. For example, in 2016, the DNB stepped up checks and balances to assess and benchmark cyber risk and data integrity. 

The DNB also focuses on ensuring all Dutch insurance entities and groups that are under DNB’s supervision have adequate capital buffers and healthy business operations through Solvency II, the risk-based regulatory framework for insurance that came into force on January 1, 2016. This new framework requires a tremendous amount of work and commitment, with more to come.

In the US, the Department of Labor (DOL) Fiduciary Rule – which requires, among other things, a ‘best interest’ standard and full disclosure of compensation in connection with providing investment advice is presently slated to come into full effect by January 1, 2018, although delay in implementation is possible based on signals from the Trump administration. Understanding the need to be agile and ready for change, for example regarding the Fiduciary Rule, we have made efforts to support anticipated changes to our models. We now offer several solutions to meet the needs of our customers taking into account the impact of the Fiduciary Rule.

Licence to operate

We engage with our regulators in the countries in which we operate and on a Group level to ensure we comply with all regulatory requirements. Our compliance with regulation is fundamental to our licence to operate. We treat regulatory compliance very seriously. Our legal, government & policy and regulatory teams – based in the US and The Hague – support the business by meeting regularly with governments and regulators to ensure we are well-advised, and prepared for, new or updated legislation. The compliance function plays a key role in monitoring our adherence to external rules, regulations and internal policies. As a result we are pleased that we did not incur any significant fines.