Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 August 2017
When managing risks, it is important to be aware of the range of risks that an institution might face. The particular risks faced will differ from firm to firm, and new risks will develop over time. This means that no list of risks can be exhaustive.
It is possible to describe the main categories of risk, and the ways in which these risks affect different types of organisation. However, even this is not without risks. Risks can be categorised in any number of different ways, and the definitions given below are not the only ‘right’ ones. It is more important that the taxonomy used in any institution is itself internally consistent, and that this taxonomy is widely understood and agreed within the institution.
Market and Economic Risk
Market risk is the risk inherent from exposure to capital markets. This can relate directly to the financial instruments held on the assets side (equities, bonds and so on) and also to the effect of these changes to the valuation of liabilities (long-term interest rates and their effect on life insurance and pensions liabilities being an obvious example). Closely related to market risks are economic risks, such as price and salary inflation. Whilst these risks often affect different aspects of financial institutions – market risk tends to affect the assets and financial risk the liabilities – there is some overlap and both can be modelled in a similar way.
Banks face market risk in particular in two main areas. The first is in relation to the marketable securities held by a bank, where a relatively straightforward asset model will suffice; however, this risk must be assessed in conjunction with market risk relating to positions in various complex instruments to which many banks are counter-parties. It is important both to include all of the positions but also to ensure that any offsetting positions between different risks (for example, long and short positions in similar instruments) is allowed for.
Market risk for non-life insurance companies again relates to the portfolios of marketable assets held, but may also be related to assumptions used for claims inflation. The extent to which this is true will depend on the class of insurance, as in many cases claims inflation will be driven by idiosyncratic factors such as medical expense growth.