PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s Henry Essert is building a group that consults with insurance companies on risk management as regulatory scrutiny intensifies, after joining the firm from BlackRock Inc.
Essert, 61, will draw on PwC’s specialists in areas such as credit risk, actuarial science and compliance and may also hire people to expand the insurance-risk practice, depending on demand, he said in an interview. He was named a managing director last week in PwC’s New York office, and was chief risk officer at MetLife Inc. during the financial crisis.
“There was no one individual within the firm that was responsible for all aspects of insurance risk for our clients,” said Richard de Haan, who leads PwC’s U.S. actuarial and insurance management solutions for life insurance. “Given the need and given the focus right now in and around the chief risk officer, the importance of having somebody very senior” has increased.
U.S. and international insurance regulations with a greater emphasis on risk management are adding demand for the service, Essert said. In the U.S., that includes the designation of non-bank systemically important financial institutions and a push for companies to use models to assess their risks and solvency, he said. Globally, the so-called ComFrame, or a common framework for the supervision of international insurers, is also driving demand, he said.
“Good risk management is good for the shareholders, it’s good for the customers,” Essert said in the interview.
The insurance-risk practice will help companies evaluate their models and perform stress tests and other assessments, Essert said. At BlackRock, he led insurance sector initiatives for the financial markets advisory unit, and helped insurers with asset allocations and enterprise risk management. Lauren Post, a spokeswoman for New York-based BlackRock, declined to comment on Essert’s departure.
Essert joined MetLife, the largest U.S. life insurer, in 2006 and helped overhaul risk management, according to his resume. He left New York-based MetLife in 2009 for Ernst & Young LLP, where he developed an insurance sector risk consulting business. Essert has undergraduate and graduate degrees from Canada’s McMaster University, and previously worked in insurance consulting at Mercer, which is part of Marsh & McLennan Cos.