The Chinese government had tried to send the same signal in 2016, cracking down on high-yield life insurance products, but “without a whole lot of luck,” said Radwan.
In May this year, issues about such products resurfaced when the CIRC suspended Beijing-based Anbang from issuing new products for three months as it singled out one of the insurer’s product designs it said “deviates from the fundamentals of insurance.”
“They were very concerned about the product that was created by Anbang that appeared to be a protection product, but was really a wealth management product disguised as an insurance product,” said Radwan.
Anbang had a high risk appetite, with 20 percent of life insurance assets invested into equities — against 2 percent among peers in the U.S., noted Radwan.
“If you look at their balance sheet, it looks more like a balance sheet of a hedge fund as opposed to a balance sheet of an insurance company,” he said.
“It was a very aggressive investment approach that they took with their balance sheet.”
Despite its troubles, Anbang is still a “very cash-rich company” and despite short-term revenue risks, there is likely to be little immediate risk from a financial perspective, Radwan said.