From trader to CIO: insights from Cindy Beaulieu on the future of insurance investing

Investment in AI is increasing

From trader to CIO: insights from Cindy Beaulieu on the future of insurance investing

Insurance News

By Nicole Panteloucos

Investment management firms play a vital role in the insurance industry by ensuring the financial stability of insurance companies through expert investment management.

These firms are instrumental in optimizing investment strategies, mitigating risks, and navigating market fluctuations, providing brokers with the stability needed to assure policyholders of the financial health and reliability of their insurance providers.

Cindy Beaulieu (pictured above), nearing her first year as CIO at Conning, North America, manages large life insurance general account portfolios, with a strong background in regulatory environments, trading, and portfolio management.

In a recent discussion with Insurance Business, Beaulieu shared her insights into the evolving landscape of insurance investment management, reflecting on her career journey and the strategic shifts that have shaped her path.

Building expertise

Beaulieu’s career began with a solid foundation in trading.

"I was given an opportunity to be the trader on the desk for a large insurance company that invested in all parts of the fixed income market," she said. The role exposed her to trading in corporate bonds, and high yield and emerging markets, providing her with a deep understanding of how different market segments interact.

Transitioning to portfolio management, Beaulieu co-managed a collateralized debt obligation at the start of the 2000s. "That actually was the start of my portfolio management career," she said.

Over the years, Beaulieu has managed diverse portfolios, from institutional pensions to insurance general accounts, emphasizing the importance of long-term investment strategies.

"It's not about the trade you can do that you can sell out of tomorrow; it's about the purchase you're making today that you have to feel really good about for many years to come," she said.

Navigating challenges in portfolio management

As CIO, Beaulieu highlighted the unique challenges of managing insurance portfolios, which require a balance between regulatory constraints and the need for long-term stability.

"The constraints become very critical—guidelines, regulatory requirements—they're all impactful to how you think about trading a portfolio," she said.

Beaulieu also highlighted the increasing focus on forthcoming regulations from bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, concerning climate disclosure requirements, which may impact investment management solutions for insurance companies.

“Will we be in situations where certain clients have to step away from assets in their portfolios? At the regulatory level, it's about what they're going to require. Then, we'll have that rush of how we gather all that information, and what it means for those portfolios,” she said.

Innovation and the role of AI

AI's influence permeates nearly every business sector, and insurance is no exception.

Beaulieu highlighted how increased interest in technological adoption is impacting investment management. 

"Insurance companies are grappling with whether they can implement smart technologies to make them faster, more efficient, and think differently about how they insure risk," she said.

As interest in the capabilities of artificial intelligence grows, insurance companies are increasingly allocating funds to these technologies, which in turn limits the capital available for other investments.

“We're seeing it with our clients; their spending on technology is increasing. This affects their portfolios, particularly for smaller insurance companies that may have less free cash available, leading to a temporary slowdown in investments,” Beaulieu said.

“But still, AI is something that will be impactful down the road and definitely a focus for insurance companies.”

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