Snakes are often associated with negative characteristics, including deceit, slyness and even as bringers of death.
The old Norse collection of stories known as the Edda, portrays the serpent-like creature Jörmungandr as an archenemy of Thor, engaging him in lethal battle.
In Christianity, the serpent played a prominent role in the story of Adam and Eve and enticed Eve to take a bite of the forbidden fruit, expelling them from paradise. In Islam, the serpent is a sign of evil and is also often used as a reminder of the dangers of temptation.
In Ancient Egypt, Apophis was a great serpent who tried to kill the sun god Ra every night in an effort to plunge the world back into chaos.
This innate fear of snakes might have an evolutionary basis.
The anthropologist Lynne Isbell has argued that the serpent as a symbol of death is built into our unconscious minds because for millions of years snakes were the only significant predators of primates. Isbell speculates that this explains why fear of snakes is one of the most common phobias around the world, a fear shared with many other primates.
But snakes or serpents have not only been associated with evil and death. Throughout the ages, people have also considered them as a symbol of a creative life force. The shedding of a snake’s skin has been a symbol of rebirth, immortality, and even healing.
An example close to home is the concept of the Rainbow Serpent in Aboriginal mythology. The Rainbow Serpent creates land and diversity for the Aboriginal people. While the association with healing is the very reason why the snake is often portrayed as a symbol for the medical profession.
Yet, a key aspect of all snake symbolism, whether good or evil, is that these creatures act as agents of transformation.
Transformation is also a key theme when it comes to insurance investing. After a decade of falling and extremely low interest rates, the trend has now reversed and bonds have become interesting again.
Although headline inflation is still high, much of it seems to be concentrated in fuel and energy prices, which could mean it will normalise at some point. Meanwhile, investors can get an Australian 10-year government bond with a yield of 3.5 per cent, unheard of in recent years.
So what does this mean for the investment portfolios of insurers? Do they unwind their recent venture into alternative assets in favour of fixed income? Or do they maintain a more diversified portfolio, in case a prolonged recession will engulf global economies? Do they take on more private market exposure?
There are many choices to make, but what is certain is that some transformation will be required to deal with the current market conditions.
At the 11th [i3] Insurance Investment Forum, we will address these questions and more, including:
- The impact of sustained higher inflation on portfolios
- Benefits of asset liability matching versus an absolute return approach
- Capital efficiency of investments
- Decarbonisation and climate change
- The role of inflation-linked bonds
- Private market allocations
We hope to see you on 6 June 2023 at the Intercontinental Double Bay in Sydney.Enquire about this event