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What a Delay to U.S. GAAP Targeted Improvements Means for Insurers
Robert Barg, VP, Solutions Management and Strategy, Insurance, FIS
July 18, 2019
Over recent months, there has been growing pressure on the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to push back the introduction of the Long Duration Targeted Improvements (LDTI) to U.S. GAAP. Now that the FASB has voted to delay the implementation date to January 1, 2022 (for larger SEC filers) and to January 1, 2024 (for all others), the immediate question for insurers is: What will the new deadline mean for my business?
Here are our top recommendations for responding to the delay:
- Don’t delay your implementation
One thing is certain – LDTI is not going away. So, it is critical to avoid the temptation, strong as it may be, to lay down tools and catch a breath. The underlying challenges of how to implement the standard and interpret its uncertainties clearly remain. And firms should use every moment of the extended timeline to surmount these obstacles.
LDTI introduces fundamental changes to U.S. GAAP calculations and vastly increases the amount of information needed for required disclosures. It amplifies the need for insurers to better integrate their finance and actuarial functions, and consolidate and modernize data management, systems and processes. The proposed new deadline does not eradicate this requirement – and, in fact, it will never be too early to start the arduous journey of transformation that LDTI entails.
- Overhaul operations to add value
LDTI implementations are going to touch nearly every system in an insurer’s quarterly valuation process. The need to complete multiple runs to feed the new disclosures will tax many legacy systems, give actuaries much less time to analyze the results and produce a large amount of data to manage. The good news is that overcoming these obstacles represents a major step forward in adding value to the business.
Rather than merely meeting new reporting requirements, insurers should view LDTI as an opportunity to improve both reporting timelines and insight into business performance, as well as reduce operational risks by increasing automation and governance of the entire reporting process.
- Take time to reap business benefits
An important upside of the delay to LDTI is that a more phased approach can be taken to implementation. First, insurers should focus on data management and system updates that adopt the latest technological advancements and best practices. Next should come the layering of process automation and other governance initiatives, all in time for the go-live date.
In other words, the delay gives you more time to look beyond the minimum requirements of compliance – and consider additional investments that will provide greater business benefits.
- Secure the right expertise right now
Insurers should also learn from previous experience of global regulatory initiatives. The delayed introduction of Solvency II, for example, resulted in a scramble for resources in Europe as the new, later deadline approached. Many firms had dispersed their teams when the delay was announced, and then had significant problems re-staffing their projects as they competed for their own, vendor and consultancy resources.
It is just as likely that insurers who hesitate now to implement LDTI will struggle with securing the right talent and skills to restart their programs. The new accounting standard needs a multi-disciplined approach to meet the varying needs of insurers’ actuarial, finance and IT functions. The skills required are numerous and already we see demand for them increasing – a trend that is unlikely to change.
Conclusion – Keep time on your side for a competitive edge
In summary, the delay to LDTI gives insurers the chance to deliver maximum business benefit through their implementation program – and, for those willing to keep up the momentum, to get ahead of the competition, too. Conversely, firms that see the delay as a reason to pause risk falling behind and missing a window of opportunity to add real value and transform their business for the better.