Seeking Alpha

MetLife lobbies against SIFI designation and capital standards

  • “We truly believe we’re not systemically important,” says MetLife (MET) chief Steven Kandarian, who has embarked on a D.C. blitz to convince regulators not to label the insurer a SIFI, as has been done to AIG and Prudential.
  • Regulatory uncertainty - including not just the SIFI designation but what capital rules would follow - has helped make it tough to hit profit targets as a major share buyback continues to be on hold. MetLife, of course, exited its banking operation a couple of years ago, and never received a bailout during the financial crisis.
  • Dodd-Frank mandates that bank capital rules must also apply to insurers designated as SIFIs - an idea making little sense, but that never stopped D.C. Maine Senator Susan Collins - who wrote that part of the law - has even said this isn't what she intended, and has sponsored an amendment to revise. Congress has yet to vote on this.
  • Far more submissive in these matters is AIG, which knows better after receiving a massive D.C. bailout. "We’re being held to very high standards there and we welcome that," says Peter Hancock, the CEO of AIG's P&C operations.
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