The total cost faced by the global insurance industry to implement IFRS 17 is estimated to be US$15-20bn, according to a new worldwide survey
by Willis Towers Watson. Kamran Foroughi, Global IFRS 17 Advisory Leader at Willis Towers Watson, said: “This is an extraordinary figure that will naturally lead to many questions from Boards and investors. The new standards on accounting are designed to help investors and regulators understand more about the true exposure, or value, of a reinsurance contract.
“For many, significant improvements will also be required in business processes and finance operations to deliver IFRS 17 efficiently and link with other metrics. With smart investment and the right people, an insurer’s IFRS 17 programme has the potential to help deliver long-term annual savings to show against the daunting up-front costs.”
The Willis Towers Watson study polled 312 insurers from 50 countries and is believed to be the most comprehensive IFRS 17 survey to date. Estimated costs vary significantly by insurer size. Our overall global industry estimate of the cumulative cost of delivering IFRS 17 is US$15-20bn, with the average programme cost for the 24 largest multinationals being US$175-200m each, and US$20m each for the remaining 288
In addition to providing insurers with the opportunity to benchmark their programmes against the efforts of industry peers and insurance companies around the world, the survey also revealed the top challenges insurers expect to face in order to successfully implement IFRS 17, principally relating to people, data, systems and processes.
Since Willis Towers Watson’s last survey in June 2020, clear progress has been made in areas such as data and IT workstreams, although setting up a robust process designed to comply with tight reporting schedules remains a challenge. The survey also reveals little progress made in dry runs, disclosures and automation. Yet, given the lack of qualified resources, Willis Towers Watson predicts process automation will be critical to
the successful implementation of IFRS 17.
Kamran Foroughi said: “Strong doubts evidently remain about whether IFRS 17 will lead to a more useful metric than current GAAP/IFRS standards. This is particularly true in more mature markets, where we do not see an improved KPI benefit commensurate with the costs, and insurers are actively planning new supplementary reporting to help explainbusiness performance.
“If insurers are to unlock value from IFRS 17 they should be aiming for significant business process improvements including automation, efficiency and auditability ‘out of the box’. This will save time and money, allowing experts to be deployed on higher value tasks and enabling insurers’ reporting functions to do more, faster and with less. Regulation can be a spur to drive performance, if the conditions are right.”