The cost of capital is a key element of the embedded value methodology for the valuation of a life business. Further, under some solvency approaches (in particular, the Swiss Solvency Test and the developing Solvency 2 project) assessing the cost of capital constitutes a step in determining the required capital allocation. Whilst the cost of capital is usually meant as a reward for the risks encumbering a given life portfolio, in actuarial practice the relevant parameter has been traditionally chosen, at least to some extent, inconsistently with such risks. The adoption of market-consistent valuations has then been advocated to reach a common standard. A market-consistent value usually acknowledges a reward to shareholders’ capital as long as the market does, namely if the risk is systematic or undiversifiable. When dealing with a life annuity portfolio (or a pension plan), an important example of systematic risk is provided by the longevity risk, i.e. the risk of systematic deviations from the forecasted mortality trend. Hence, a market-consistent approach should provide appropriate valuation tools. In this paper we refer to a portfolio of immediate life annuities and we focus on longevity risk. Our purpose is to design a framework for a valuation of the portfolio which is market-consistent, and therefore based on a risk-neutral argument, while involving some of the basic items of a traditional valuation, viz best estimate future flows and allocated capital. This way, we try to reconcile the traditional with a market-consistent (or risk-neutral) approach. This allows us, in particular, to translate the results obtained under the risk-neutral approach in terms of a properly redefined embedded value.
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