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Insurance Services Office makes a significant equity investment in AscendantOne; financial services industry efforts to develop and implement global accounting standards face challenge, according to Ernst & Young's UK Banking and Capital Markets Practice; Inreon is being used by Winterthur Insurance...

Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO, Jersey City, NJ), made a significant equity investment in Nashua, NH-based AscendantOne Inc., a P&C front-office systems and services company, to deliver insurance rating and policy management products that integrate ISO's loss costs, manual rules and forms information with AscendantOne's XML-based RateFocus and PolicyFocus applications. The deal (terms of which were not disclosed at press time) also calls for ISO to provide sales and marketing support to AscendantOne. ISO also will work with AscendantOne to ensure the RateFocus rating calculations conform to the published ISO manual rules. ISO and AscendantOne will make RateFocus and PolicyFocus available for all ISO lines of insurance, beginning with the July launch of ISO's new Business owners Program (BOP). The AscendantOne offering is the first solution that efficiently incorporates ISO loss costs, rules and manual information directly into insurers' rating and policy administration systems, according to the two companies.

Financial services industry efforts to develop and implement global accounting standards face the challenge of "achieving financial transparency as efficiently as possible while ensuring that the big picture is not lost in the detail," according to Roger Perkin, head of Ernst & Young's UK Banking and Capital Markets Practice. "In establishing accounting standards—and this applies equally to the US GAAP and International Accounting Standards—attention and effort is inevitably focused on the detail. This leads to staggering detail in the pursuit of financial transparency, while at the same time diverting attention from what matters," Perkin said at a briefing in New York City. According to Phil Arthur, leader of E&Y's Canadian insurance practice, steps to harmonize international financial disclosure regulations would "likely lead US insurance companies to more active investment management based on total return, tighter asset/liability matching and more focus on options and guarantees and lapse risk."

The Internet-based trading platform Inreon is being used by Winterthur Insurance for purchasing reinsurance contracts. Winterthur's Market Unit in Switzerland is the first department within the organization, part of the Credit Suisse Group, to use the system. London-based Inreon was founded by Munich Re and Swiss Re in 2000. More than 50 percent of capacity available from the world's top 25 reinsurance groups is now represented on the platform.

Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio

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