Insurance asset manager of the Year: Conning
Conning is a specialist in addressing the investment demands of small and mid-sized insurers, a segment of the market that often lacks the experience and expertise to use strategic asset allocation tools and a broad range of asset classes.
The pandemic of 2020 was an unexpected test for the insurance industry, but it allowed Conning to show its mettle in meeting ongoing challenges. The asset manager introduced new asset classes to help insurers maintain higher-quality portfolios, including collateralised loan obligation (CLO) products through its partnership with subsidiary Octagon Credit Investors, esoteric asset backed securities (ABS) and private placements.
Conning helped firefight investments for one mid-sized P&C insurer through the pandemic distress. It had begun reducing the client's nearly one-quarter exposure to commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) in 2019. The pandemic selloff in March and April was a test of holding firm with the remaining CMBS, which Conning assisted with, while causing minimal book yield loss.
Overall, the client broke even on all the CMBS sold and now has a more reasonable 15% portfolio exposure to the asset class with no CMBS securities at risk to downgrade.
A similar tale emerges with a mid-size US multi-line life insurer which Conning helped to get a ratings upgrade via the creation of an effective rating presentation drawing on a customised asset allocation strategy supportive of its business needs and regulatory capital requirements.
The asset manager also helped a mid-sized insurer client based in New York state carve out a small allocation to green bonds and meet state ESG requirements.
For all these reasons, Conning wins this year's insurance asset manager of the year award.