THE IMPACT OF CASH FLOW RISK MANAGEMENT IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Cash is king. It is true for entrepreneurs, and it is also true for managers of financial institutions. Cash-flow risks have long been one of the most essential factors while managing a variety of risks, particularly for the insurance industry, which faces unique underwriting risk not observed in other industries. To the insurance industry, cash flows can be generated through underwriting activities, financing and investing choices, and even managing risks; consequently modeling cash-flow risks will be on a dynamic basis process because it is essential to forecasting and managing financial and underwriting risks. To model the cash-flow risks specific to the insurance industry, we have to capture the dynamics of the cash-flow–generating process of an insurer. The cash-flow–generating process can be characterized by two major components: (1) The earnings that result from core activities and cannot be modified and (2) Other profits that can be modified through the dimensions of investment choices, risk management, and financial policies. In addition, the factors underlying the cash-flow–generating process may be intertwined and thus under the generating process can present the risks to the extent of cash-flow level. For instance, the downside risk of a company can be signaled by an abnormal decrease in operating cash flows. Moreover, the discrepancy of the magnitude and timing of the cash flows generated from underwriting insurance policies and those generated from investment activities create cash-flow uncertainty and risks to insurance firms. For insurance firms, cash flows generated from investment, underwriting, and risk management activities are important indicators in financial management and are the key variables in capital budgeting decisions. Hence, these generated cash flows will provide internally interacting feedback on determining the insurers’ strategies of underwriting, risk management, and investment from time to time. Correspondingly, cash-flow processes and cash flow risks demonstrate their dynamic characteristics.
This study investigates management of cash flows by the insurance industry by incorporating its interactions with risk management and investment management after identifying and capturing the dynamic relationships between one another. For example, an efficient implementation of a risk management mechanism can mitigate agency costs deriving from over investments of free cash flows. In addition, a well-established investment portfolio can efficiently utilize free cash flows for better asset allocation. Furthermore, we extend the research to explicitly consider the dynamic effects of economy-wide macro-variables and industry-wide common factors. The research sample, based on the insurance industry, provides an opportunity to incorporate the factors uniquely specific to this industry, namely, insurance underwriting cycles and regulatory requirements, into the model. Therefore, this study conducts a comprehensive analysis of cash-flow modeling and cash-flow risk management in the insurance industry. The existing literature provides evidence that suggests the relationships between cash flows, investment, and risk management.
As demonstrated in Alti (2013), cash flows contain valuable information about a firm’s investment opportunities. In addition, Almeida et al. (2014) identify the significant relationship between cash-flow sensitivity and financial constraints. Rochet and Villeneuve (2011) examine how risk management mechanisms interact with the uncertainty of cash-flow levels and conclude that the decisions are simultaneously endogenous. In addition, the literature has shown that insurers have more actively participated in the derivative markets by employing financial derivatives not only to smooth cash-flow uncertainty from their invested assets and underwriting liabilities but also to generate more cash flows. Therefore, cash-flow management is important in the field of risk management, particularly for the insurer firms who intend to reach effective asset/liability duration management. To the best of our knowledge, very few of the existing studies have addressed the issues of cash-flow risk management of insurers under the framework of considering the dynamic risk management in investing, financing, and underwriting.
In this project we apply dynamic factor modeling (Stock and Watson 2006, 2009) to capture the dynamic interactions between risk management and investment management by incorporating economy-wide macro-variables and industry-wide business cycle variables. Moreover, to further empirically carry out the applications of dynamic factor modeling as suggested in Rochet and Villeneuve (2011), we utilize a factor-augmented auto regression model (FAARM) through which we model how cash flows respond to the dynamic interactions mentioned above to explicitly model the non-monotonic effects. The research by Born et al. (2015) and Lin et al. (2011) explores the dynamic interactions between risk management and financial management in the U.S. property and liability insurance industry, but the explicit effects on cash-flow management are left for future research in their study. As financial intermediaries, the insurance industry is subject to various sources of risk, including interest rate risk, market risk, credit risk, and liquidity risk. Engaging in investment activities is one major source that generates the risks mentioned above, and the variability of cash flows reflects a firm’s risks (Keown et al. 2007; Shin and Stulz 2010). All risks, particularly liquidity risk, are related to cash flows. Bakshi and Chen (2017) concluded that investing in stocks leads to the cash flows embedded with higher risks. Ballotta and Haberman (2015) and Azcue and Muler (2015) specifically examine the investment strategies of insurance companies and emphasize minimizing the default risks of the insurers, but not the dynamic optimal investment strategies of insurers over economic downturns. In other words, they estimate the credit risk or liquidity risk at the firm level but fail to consider the macroeconomic issues such as interest risk and market risk.
The study by Wen and Born (2o15) explores the dynamic interactions between investment strategies and underwriting cycles, and their study suggests that although one may investigate how insurers dynamically adjust their investment and hedging strategies, the dynamic interactions between asset and liability risks corresponding to the underwriting cycles should be taken into consideration. Taken with these earlier studies, our study intends to bridge the extant literature by taking steps further to model the cash-flow risks by taking into account the uncertainty of the market cycles, thereby explicitly examining insurers’ cash-flow management. Using the highly regulated insurance industry as a research sample enables us to further extend the existing literature by incorporating the specific industry-wide characteristics, such as regulatory requirements and underwriting cycles, in the models. The simultaneous consideration of market cycle, underwriting cycle, and regulatory requirements enables us to fully depict the insurance firms’ investment, risk management, and underwriting strategies.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Most insurance businesses encounter cash flow risk management problem at one time or another. Cash flow problems can be serious and threaten your ability to stay in business if not well analyzed. Insurance companies are more at cash flow risk due to the nature of their business.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1. To investigate the management of cash flows by the insurance industries.
2. To identify and capture the dynamic relationship between cash flow management and risk management in insurance industries.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. Are cash flows managed by insurance industries?
2. What dynamic relationship exists between cash flow management and risk management in insurance industries?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
Ho: There is no significant relationship between cash flow management and risk management in insurance industries.
Hi: There is significant relationship between cash flow management and risk management in insurance industries
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This project models cash-flow risks and empirically analyzes cash-flow risk management of insurance firms under a dynamic factor modeling framework, which can capture the dynamic interactions between an insurance firm’s activities in financing, investing, underwriting, and risk transferring. In addition, through the use of a factor-augmented auto regressive (FAAR) technique, the empirical analysis can simultaneously consider the effects of macro-factors that are common to the entire economy as well as those factors specific to the insurance industry.
1.7 Scope/Limitations of the study
This study on the evaluating the impact of cash flow risk management in the insurance industry will cover various approaches to the study and its impact on insurance industries in Nigeria.
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Cash Flow: The total amount of money being transferred into and out of a business, especially as affecting liquidity.
Risk Management: Is the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate events or to maximize the realization of opportunities.
Insurance Industry: A business that provides coverage in the form of compensation resulting from loss, damages, injury, treatment or hardship in exchange for premium payments.