Going about things differently to others – that is exactly what sets us apart. And it has done from the very outset. We are passionate about reinsurance and chart our own course. With lean structures and an efficient organisation, we have established ourselves as one of the leading globally operating reinsurance groups.
Right from our earliest days we were a somewhat different reinsurer: we had to secure a footing with comparatively tight capital resources in a market dominated by long-standing players. Drawing on our quick, flexible and undogmatic business approach, we evolved into a professional reinsurer with extensive specialist expertise. To this day we still operate with the lowest administrative expense ratio in the industry – a competitive edge that enables us to persevere even in protracted soft market phases. In order to grow we often had to break new ground and take on a pioneering role. We were one of the first companies in Europe to receive an S&P rating, for example, and the first German reinsurer to adopt capital-market-oriented accounting principles in its financial reporting. In 1994 we were the first reinsurer to securitise natural catastrophe risks for the capital market. In 1998 this was followed by the first transfer of new business acquisition costs associated with life and health reinsurance. Long embodied in our daily practice, the claim to be "somewhat different" has served as an expression of the entire Hannover Re Group’s self-image since 2005.
In 2015 we received approval from the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) to calculate our solvency requirements according to our partial internal capital model following the implementation of Solvency II. In 2017 the Hannover Re Group was additionally permitted by the BaFin to calculate the operational risk on the Group level using the internal model, meaning that it now has a full internal model. Approvals will be sought for the individual entities belonging to the Group. In this way we can best map the risk structure of our reinsurance business – unlike with a standard model. We are thus able to identify attractive business and optimally allocate capital to business groups, regions and lines. We can maximise opportunities for diversification, while continuing to efficiently fulfil our supervisory capital requirements in accordance with Solvency II.
Tailor-made solutions for our business partners establish the basis for strengthening and further extending our position as one of the leading reinsurance groups. They enable us to achieve sustainable success over the long term and assert our standing as one of the world's most profitable reinsurers. By identifying innovative business opportunities associated with newly emerging risks, we constantly enlarge the scope of our commercial activities.
Our ideas and know-how make it possible for our partners to open up new markets. Cooperations with insurtech start-up firms and bonus programmes for a healthy lifestyle may be cited as just two examples. We offer our customers financial solutions individually tailored to their needs and bespoke concepts designed to ease the strain of reserving and deliver capital relief.
Going forward, too, we intend to tackle new developments and challenges with innovative ideas and concepts. In 2016 we held an international ideas competition under the name "Journey Re" in which teams of talented young people were challenged to develop new business models for the insurance and reinsurance industries. Following the six-month project duration eight teams presented their product and business ideas, all of which were found to be promising by the Executive Board. Prize money of EUR 80,000 was awarded to the three concepts offering the greatest prospects of success. The fruits of this initiative were carried over into projects.
After successful project completion the ideas competition transitioned seamlessly into the implementation phase with a view to generating profitable business from these promising ideas. The founding of a new entity in Berlin, which – in the form of a sort of "cyber club" – comprehensibly highlights the risk of potential cyber attacks to small and mid-sized businesses and offers suitable protection options, and the project launch of a peer-to-peer insurance concept in Johannesburg, which has already attracted considerable interest there among local media, are just two of the successful outcomes. Not only that, we were also able to recruit around a third of those participating in the competition as new employees for our company.
In recognition of the ever-greater relevance of innovative topics to the entire insurance industry, we extended an invitation to the first international "Innovation Camp" in Berlin in July 2018. The primary focus of the two-day internal workshop attended by 40 members of staff was on strengthening the interconnectedness of our rich innovation landscape, making targeted use of Big Data and exploring future partnerships with insurtechs.
We transact our insurance business with lower management expenses than our peers. This is to the benefit not only of our clients but also our shareholders.
Our global presence and activities in the largely uncorrelated business groups of Property & Casualty and Life & Health reinsurance across all lines of business enable us to enjoy optimal risk diversification. In conjunction with our capital management, this is the key to our comparatively low cost of capital.
We have a very robust capital base which is continuously reviewed with an eye to possible changes in the risk profile. Our rigorous risk management is geared to acting on business opportunities and hence securing our financial strength over the long term.