The big deal: tailored transactions

8 mins
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Life and health transactions are large single deals tailored to a specific need of a client. This work is highly specialised and is often at the leading edge of risk transfer.
Jonathan Graham Web

The big deal: tailored transactions

Jonathan Graham Web

Jonathan Graham

Head Financial Markets & In-Force Management

Jonathan's division focuses on financial market transactions. He is responsible for optimising Swiss Re's in-force L&H portfolio as well as providing quantitative analysis services across L&H and the Group.

The success of Life & Health Reinsurance (L&H Re) is based on close client relationships, with 95% of the book written via a direct relationship. This strong direct relationship allows L&H Re to partner with its clients along the entire value chain, from product development and distribution through to risk transfer and managing in-force portfolios.

Large, tailored transactions are reinsurance deals that are customised according to the needs of a specific client. These types of transactions take risk transfer and in-force management a step further than standard risk transfer, using the underlying risk to address specific capital management issues. This type of work has been a significant contributor to L&H Re's results, delivering USD 2.5 billion in economic profits over the past five years.

Swiss Re's Life & Health transactions teams include specialists with expertise in complex, tailored deals for Swiss Re's clients. On large deals with global clients, the teams work with billions of dollars’ worth of underlying risk and assets. 

Jonathan Graham, Head Financial Markets & In-Force Management, explains: "Every tailored transaction is unique for that client's needs. This is highly strategic work, which is all about helping clients efficiently manage their risks and capital so they can grow with minimal impact to their balance sheet and earnings, while maintaining adequate solvency levels."

Although each tailored transaction is unique, there are several common reasons why clients might choose to structure a large deal.

Every tailored transaction is unique for that client's needs.
Jonathan Graham, Head Financial Markets & In-Force Management

They may wish to protect a block of business from specific risks, such as pandemics or changes in health trends. The insurer may want to de-risk the investment side of their life portfolio – using optimised reinsurance protection to mitigate financial market or interest rate risks.

"Reinsurance is not just about insurance for insurers," explains Jonathan. "Tailored reinsurance solutions allow clients to de-risk their portfolios in a very specific way, addressing a specific issue such as longevity or investment risks."

A key benefit of tailored transactions is that they can release the capital needed for growth opportunities, such as moving into a new line of business or launching a new product.

"There are many ways an insurer can fund new growth opportunities. Reinsurance transactions are a pragmatic, efficient method because they optimise the existing business, paving the way for a stronger overall portfolio," explains Jonathan.

The Life & Health transactions teams draw on the strengths of a global cross-functional workforce, involving actuaries, investment and financial market specialists, risk specialists, lawyers, in-force management teams and the client market teams.

"This year, literally hundreds of my Swiss Re colleagues have been involved in a diverse range of tailored transactions”, notes Jonathan. “Thanks to their talent and expertise, we have taken on whole portfolios of business. We have looked at how to manage financial market risk. We have even worked on deals for remote risks that may arise in the future, such as the impact of higher unemployment, inflation or the cost-of-living crisis. This work has proved to be fascinating and rewarding."

Jollee Crosby Web

Mass lapse: security against social turmoil

Jollee Crosby Web

Jolee Crosby

CEO Reinsurance Canada & English Caribbean

With a long career in L&H Re at Swiss Re, Jolee now oversees Swiss Re's fifth largest market, with USD 817 million of premiums earned in L&H Canada alone in 2023.


When economic times get tough, life insurance can be cut from household budgets. On a large scale, mass cancellation of policies could significantly reduce a life insurer’s premium income and potentially cripple their business.

In 2023, Jolee Crosby, CEO Reinsurance Canada & English Caribbean, led a team which helped a large global client in North America strengthen its capital position against mass lapse.

Can you explain how Swiss Re approaches mass lapse events?
For over a decade, L&H Re has been assessing the threat of mass policy cancellations. Our work suggests that prevention is the best approach to avoid lapse – after all, we can only build resilience if people can stay insured.

We have data analytics tools which enable clients to scan their portfolios and identify customers who may be at risk of letting their life insurance lapse. We also have behavioural economists who can advise clients on how to proactively reach out to "at risk" customers to see if they can support those clients in keeping their protection.

How did the transaction you mentioned in North America add to our mass lapse toolbox?

This deal tackled lapse risk management from the point of view of a company's CFO and chief actuary, who are the guardians of their shareholders' capital.

This type of deal helps clients protect their reserves – and in turn their capital position – if a large mass lapse event cannot be prevented.

What has been the impact of the deal?

This deal stands out as an innovative and unique solution. Swiss Re is proud to have helped bring expertise to the market – and utilise a new strategy for tackling mass lapse risks. The deal sets a beneficial precedent for more clients to benefit from this work.

Michael Bacon Web

Unlocking trapped capital

Michael Bacon Web

Michael Bacon

Head US L&H Globals

Michael leads one of the key businesses within Globals, the division that serves a large number of the world's largest insurance companies and contributes an impressive 30% of Swiss Re's technical results.


Michael Bacon leads a US-based team that manages relationships with globally active L&H clients. In 2023, his team and several colleagues partnered with one of Swiss Re's largest clients to help a large insurance company release capital from its life insurance business.

What was the strategic challenge for this transaction?

A large insurance company had a large book of US life insurance policies which required significant capital, expense and operational capabilities to manage. The company wanted to free up that capital and reduce their expense and operational complexity. We had a solution for a large portion of their need.

How did you solve the challenge?

Focusing on our strengths, we sought a partner with complementary strengths to provide a combined solution. We could take on the mortality risk, and we could provide a way to maximise the value of the business already in the portfolio. The partner we found was able to take on the asset risk, and they also had the operational capabilities required.

What demands did the transaction place on the team?

The first was the working hours required to support our portion of the transaction. Our piece alone unlocked over a billion dollars of trapped capital – but also involved hundreds of thousands of term life policies that protect real families. To accomplish this, we needed to ensure that the deal was priced correctly, which required a lot of dedication from our actuarial team to calculate the figures with precision.

The second challenge was the complexity of working with a partner to provide a comprehensive solution for the insurer, who is also a long-standing client. Thanks to their world-class expertise and technical skills, our structuring team successfully developed the solution. They were supported by our legal team, who worked tirelessly to formulate the contracts, and our client markets team, who helped us respect our relationships throughout the process.

There was a lot at stake, but ultimately it was worth every minute of the effort.

Yong Suk Kwon Web

Managing financial market risks

Yong Suk Kwon Web

Yong Suk Kwon

Head Korea Branch

Having begun his career at Swiss Re 25 years ago, Yong now heads up Swiss Re's third largest Asian market, which generated USD 696 million in L&H premiums in 2023.


With tailored reinsurance transactions, insurers can protect themselves against financial volatility arising from changes in life expectancy trends, health trends, regulatory requirements or even changes in financial markets. In 2023, Yong Suk Kwon and Swiss Re's Korean team structured a deal that helped a life insurer manage investment risk.

What was the challenge faced by the client?

Life insurers need to set aside funds to cover the future claims in their portfolio. Although companies invest this money in safe assets, such as government bonds, these are still exposed to financial market fluctuations.

How did Swiss Re address the issue?

We optimised the underlying risk in our client's portfolio by using reinsurance to transfer that risk to Swiss Re. This meant that the client could, in turn, optimise the investments related to that book of business to a point where they were comfortable with any potential volatility in their long-term investments.

What made this deal a success?

In this case, Swiss Re's global capacity enabled our client to protect their portfolio against specific local issues, particularly interest rates. This highlights the benefits of Swiss Re’s global strength. We can use our international capacity and balance sheet to solve local issues.


Read about Swiss Re's Business Units

Life & Health Reinsurance

US GAAP net income for 2023 (USD)


L&H Re net premiums earned and fee income 2023 (USD)


L&H Re IFRS net income target for 2024 (USD)


L&H Re clients in 2023


Family members covered by L&H Re policies in 2023


Number of employees servicing L&H Re's client franchise

1 600

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