World Cup forecasts: actuaries vs underwriters vs investment bankers

Published in: Risk

Companies: Lloyd's, Goldman Sachs, Allianz

Lloyd's of London has predicted that France will win the FIFA World Cup, which starts today in Russia.

Lloyd's based its prediction following research carried out with the Centre for Economics and Business Research, looking at the total insurable value of the national teams, with France taking top spot for most expensive team at £1.4bn ($1.9bn), followed by England (£1.17bn) and Brazil (£1.1bn).

The total insurable value of all world cup teams comes to £13.1bn. Group G, which includes Belgium, England, Panama and Tunisia, has the highest insurable value at over £2.3bn, according to the analysis. 

The high value of players in the English team is largely down to their status of playing in the English Premier League, the richest football league in the world. Indeed the average insurable value of one England player is more than the entire Panama squad.

"The contrast between the teams at the top and bottom in terms of insurable value is staggering, with the top six national teams worth more than the other 26 combined. We can't wait to see if some teams can defy the odds and make it through, and if the favourites can prove their worth," said Victoria De'Ath, Lloyd's class of business manager.

While seemingly unscientific, Lloyd's correctly predicted Germany as the last world cup winner based on its insurable value approach.

In contrast to the underwriters' choice, investment bank Goldman Sachs has plumped for Brazil as the eventual winner, based on a proprietary artificial intelligence algorithm. The bank even has a prediction for the score in the final, proposing Brazil to beat Germany by 1.70 goals to 1.41.

However, Goldman has predicted Brazil to win in the last three tournaments and been wrong on each occasion.

French actuarial consultancy and software vendor Addactis has also predicted Brazil as the winner, based on analysis carried out using its stochastic modelling software.

Rather than looking for the most likely outcome of each match and deducing the qualifiers as they go along, the firm's actuaries simulated 5 million possible scenarios, through the application of a Markov chain Monte Carlo model.

The South American nation had a 16.66% chance of taking victory, closely followed by Germany (15.30%), France (13.75%) and Spain (12.60%). The most likely final was Brazil-Germany (5.49%) followed by Brazil-Spain (4.56%)

Addactis correctly predicted a Germany-Argentina final and Germany as the eventual winners in 2014.

The importance of World Cup insurance was also spelled out by Allianz noting the various facets of the tournament that require it – from the tournament organisers to the teams and players to broadcasters, sponsors, travel firms, airlines and retailers.

"Without insurance there would be no World Cup, no Olympics or little organised competitive sport at all," says Michael Furtschegger, head of entertainment international at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty. "For, few would take on the risk required to stage an event, particularly one the size of the World Cup."

In 2010 Lloyd's placed a $9bn estimate on insurance for the South Africa World Cup covering stadiums and business opportunities.

Sarfraz Thind