Goldman Survey Finds Insurers With $13 Trillion Ready for Risk

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Insurance executives responsible for investing more than $13 trillion in assets worldwide are planning to take on more risk as the global economy recovers, according to an annual survey conducted by Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Of 286 chief investment officers and chief financial officers polled, 34% said they plan to increase portfolio risk, compared with 8% planning a decrease, according to survey results released Wednesday. The spread -- 26 percentage points -- is significantly above the survey’s historical average of 15%.

“This survey really took a significant turn toward risk-on,” Mike Siegel, Goldman’s global head of insurance asset management, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. The survey hasn’t offered similar readings favoring risk since the period following the Great Recession in 2012 and 2013.

Siegel said that appetite spanned industries and risk types as investors continue to hunt for returns.

“As global interest rates maintain historically low levels, investors continue to prioritize return-enhancing assets -- private equity, middle-market corporate loans, infrastructure debt, collateralized loan obligations and emerging-market debt,” Goldman Sachs Asset Management said in the report.

Globally, 37% of respondents listed private equity as an asset class they would target for further investment, and 55% included it among a list of three classes expected to deliver the highest total returns in the next year. Emerging-markets equities and U.S. equities rounded out the list of expected high performers.

Meanwhile, 78% of respondents said they expect government and agency debt to be among the three asset classes delivering the lowest total returns in the next 12 months.

One issue creeping into the picture is inflation. This year, 37% of respondents reported they expect it to be a concern for their domestic market in the next two to three years. That figure was 17% a year ago.

Another worry for investors is volatility in equity and credit markets, with 19% of CFOs and CIOs ranking it as the greatest macroeconomic risk to portfolios in the next year. Meanwhile, 52% of respondents identified the global pandemic as the greatest geopolitical risk over the next 12 months.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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