National Life Group,AM Best Co has upgraded the issuer credit ratings (ICR) to ‘a+’ from ‘a’ and affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) of National Life Insurance Company (NLIC) (Montpelier, VT) and its wholly owned subsidiary, Life Insurance Company of the Southwest (Dallas, TX) (together known as National Life). These companies are the insurance subsidiaries of NLV Financial Corporation (NLVF) (Montpelier, VT), which is the intermediate holding company in the organization’s mutual holding company structure. Concurrently, A.M. Best has upgraded the ICR and senior debt ratings to ‘bbb+ from ‘bbb’ of NLVF. AM Best also has upgraded the debt rating to ‘a-’ from ‘bbb+’ on NLIC’s $200 million 10.50% surplus notes, due 2039. The outlook for the FSR is stable, while the outlook for the ICRs and debt has been revised to stable from positive. (See below for a detailed listing of NLVF’s debt ratings.)The rating actions reflect National Life’s favorable financial performance over the last several years despite a difficult economic environment. National Life recorded full-year 2010 GAAP and statutory earnings of $122.4 million and $116.8 million, respectively. National Life continues to exhibit a solid performance in 2011, with GAAP and statutory earnings run-rates consistent with 2010. A.M. Best notes that National Life experienced a below average level of investment losses during the 2008-2009 financial crisis relative to its peers, and investment impairments have been minimal for the first half of 2011. In addition, National Life’s risk-adjusted capital was strengthened by its 2009 surplus note issuance, and the group has maintained its strong capitalization through organic earnings in 2010 and 2011.National Life’s ratings recognize its consistent operating performance, continued conservative risk profile and diverse distribution channels. The company also benefits from its competitive positions in the indexed universal life (UL) insurance and 403(b) indexed annuity markets, as well as its good expense management.On an annual basis, National Life consistently generates more than $100 million of statutory net operating income (net of policyholder dividends and tax and before realized gains and losses). National Life’s investment portfolio’which is currently in a net unrealized gain position of approximately $1.2 billion’is conservatively managed, with limited exposure to structured securities other than approximately $500 million of commercial mortgage-backed securities. All residential mortgaged-backed securities held by National Life are agency-backed and rated triple-A without exposure to Alt-A or subprime collateral. In addition, National Life continues to exercise discipline in product design, while maintaining competitive positions within its niche markets (indexed life insurance and indexed annuities). National Life ranked fourth in industry sales for indexed UL and also was a top 10 producer of indexed annuities in 2010. Mutual fund sales by National Life’s investment management affiliate, Sentinel Investments, also have been quite strong, as assets under management have doubled since 2007.Offsetting these positive rating factors is National Life’s exposure to indexed products, which subjects its earnings to modest equity market volatility. Additionally, the 2009 surplus note issuance increased National Life’s GAAP financial leverage (currently 22%, excluding other comprehensive income); however, it remains within AM Best’s guidelines for the company’s current ratings and is expected to decline over time. At the same time, National Life’s GAAP interest coverage (currently five times) has been pressured by the additional interest expense on the surplus notes and is only minimally adequate for the current ratings. However, A.M. Best notes that the group’s coverage ratios also are supported by approximately $95 million of cash and invested assets at NLVF.AM Best believes that National Life is well positioned at the current rating level for the foreseeable future. However, downward rating pressure may occur should National Life experience weakening earnings, a material decline in risk-adjusted capitalization or significant deterioration in investment performance.The following debt ratings have been upgraded:NLV Financial Corporation ‘– to ‘bbb+’ from ‘bbb’ on $75 million 6.50% senior unsecured notes, due 2035– to ‘bbb+’ from ‘bbb’ on $200 million 7.50% senior unsecured notes, due 2033National Life has been the state’s largest Vermont-based company for most of the last quarter century, at least. See STORY from Vermont Business Magazine’s Vermont 100+ ranking from last January. Vermont Business Magazine will issue its 25th annual Vermont 100+ ranking in its January 2012 edition. At that time, it is expected that Green Mountain Coffee Roasters will ascend to the top position.The principal methodology used in determining these ratings is Best’s Credit Rating Methodology — Global Life and Non-Life Insurance Edition, which provides a comprehensive explanation of AM Best’s rating process and highlights the different rating criteria employed. Additional key criteria utilized include: ‘Risk Management and the Rating Process for Insurance Companies’; ‘Understanding BCAR for Life/Health Insurers’; ‘A.M. Best’s Liquidity Model For U.S. Life Insurers’; ‘Rating Members of Insurance Groups’; ‘AM Best’s Perspective on Operating Leverage’; and ‘A.M. Best’s Ratings & the Treatment of Debt.’ Methodologies can be found at www.ambest.com/ratings/methodology(link is external).Founded in 1899, AM Best Company is the world’s oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source. For more information, visit www.ambest.com(link is external).
Members of CUNA’s Consumer Protection Subcommittee discussed the need for regulatory relief and other topics with NCUA, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), legislators and CUNA staff during their fly-in meeting this week. A chief topic of discussion with both NCUA and CFPB was CUNA’s Telephone Consumer Protect Act (TCPA) petition, and CUNA’s subsequent letters to the agencies asking for their support.“Our subcommittee members represent a diverse section of the credit union industry, each heavily invested in seeing regulatory relief,” said Elizabeth Eurgubian, CUNA’s deputy chief advocacy officer. “We had substantive discussions about ways we think regulatory burdens can be eased on credit unions, we thank the agencies and staff for their time and look forward to continuing discussions as policies take shape.”CUNA’s TCPA petition requests the Federal Communications Commission issue a declaratory ruling that provides 2 routes to resolve confusion about what communication between credit unions and members are permitted under the TCPA. continue reading » 8SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
The 2016 Ryder Cup is a winner for England Golf, even before the first ball is struck tomorrow. Matt Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Danny Willett and Chris Wood make up half of Team Europe – and all played for England as amateurs. England Golf chief executive Nick Pink said: “We’re wishing the European team the very best of luck and we’re immensely proud that six of the players are English and that, with our clubs and counties, we supported their development. “This is a huge inspiration for today’s ambitious amateurs and a terrific reward for all the volunteers and coaches who work so hard to support our talented players.” The Parliamentary Golf Group has also wished the European Ryder Cup team well ahead of the competition at Hazeltine National in Minnesota, USA. In a letter to the Darren Clarke, Captain of Team Europe, the Group Chairman Karl McCartney MP passed on the best wishes of all members of the group, and expressed hope: “that the event will help to promote our game across the UK and inspire more people to pick up their clubs, take part in physical activity, and keep fit and healthy”. In addition to England’s six players, Team Europe also includes Rory McIlroy, from Northern Ireland, and England, Northern Ireland and Scotland are also all represented by the captain and vice-captains. Karl McCartney commented: “I am looking forward to following the action with great excitement, and hope that Team Europe can prevail to win their fourth competition in a row. Golf is a sport for all, and I hope that the strong UK presence in the team will encourage the next generation of young golfers.” The England six: Matt Fitzpatrick is from Hallamshire, Yorkshire, and was the US amateur champion and the world number one amateur before turning pro. He has already won twice. Andy Sullivan represented Nuneaton, Warwickshire, as an amateur. He turned pro in 2011 after helping to win the Walker Cup and has won three times on the European Tour. Justin Rose is an England Golf ambassador, the first Olympic golf champion in 112 years and the 2013 US Open champion. He played at North Hants, Hampshire, as an amateur. Lee Westwood, a former world number one, is about to play his 10th Ryder Cup. He was an amateur at Worksop, Nottinghamshire, and writes on the club’s website: “I’ll never forget my roots. They are firmly embedded in the fairways of Worksop Golf Club.” Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters champion, represented Rotherham, Yorkshire, as an amateur and was English champion and world number one before turning pro. Chris Wood, the 2016 BMW PGA champion, is from Long Ashton, Gloucestershire. He was England’s number one amateur for two years before turning pro. Caption: Matt Fittzpatrick playing as an amateur (image copyright Leaderboard Photography). 29 Sep 2016 Ryder Cup is a winner for England Golf
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addresses the media during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Silver announced that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life by the league, in response to racist comments the league says he made in a recorded conversation. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)NEW YORK (AP) – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Monday his league will “take a fresh look” at its domestic violence procedures in the wake of the NFL’s rash of incidents.Silver said during a community service event in Staten Island that the league has been discussing with the NBA Players Association ways to further educate players and provide programs to them and their families.“We learn from other leagues’ experiences,” Silver said. “We’re studying everything that’s been happening in the NFL. We’re working with our players’ association. We’ve been talking for several weeks and we’re going to take a fresh look at everything we do.”The NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell have been criticized for punishments that were too slow or lenient for Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and other players involved in recent domestic violence cases. Goodell said last week the NFL wants to implement new personal conduct policies by the Super Bowl.The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement calls for a minimum 10-game suspension for a first offense of a player convicted of a violent felony.“We have in place the appropriate mechanisms for discipline, although we’ll take a fresh look at those as well,” Silver said. “But most importantly, it’s education, and it’s not just the players, but it’s the players’ families. That’s what we’re learning, too.“We have to take these programs directly to the players’ spouses, directly to their partners so that they’re aware of places they can go to express concerns, whether they’re anonymous hotlines, team executives, league executives. And we’re consulting experts. There’s a lot to be learned here. It’s a societal problem; it’s not one that’s unique to sports.”Silver spoke at the opening of a refurbished Staten Island playground and basketball court in an area damaged by Hurricane Sandy. He was joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Knicks and Nets officials in announcing community efforts throughout New York, which will host the 2015 All-Star weekend. Silver said the goal of the programs is to directly reach 500,000 children.New union executive director Michele Roberts also took part in what was her first official day in her new position. However, Silver said discussions with her started before Monday.“We do have in place, unlike the NFL, a penalty scale, and to the extent it needs any tweaking, then we’ll talk about tweaking it,” Roberts said. “What I hope we’re going to do as well is figure out ways to prevent any occurrence like that on our side. It’s one thing to know how to react in the event it happens; it’s a lot smarter to try to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first instance.”Silver noted that the NBA has had its own difficulties with issues off the court, saying the aftermath of former Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks means “everyone understands the high standard that we are living under now in the NBA.” The NFL’s issues just accelerated the need to look for improvements.“It’s been going on, but the whole world is focused right now on what’s happening around the NFL,” Silver said, “so it’d be foolish for us not to try to learn from everything that’s happening with that league as well.”