For U.S. insurers, the lengthening stream of regulations imposed by federal and state regulators poses a mounting threat. The list is long, ranging from rules governing principal-based reserving and stress tests to annuity sales tactics and — the latest bane of the industry — the Department of Labor's proposed fiduciary standard.

If it's any consolation to the companies, the myriad of regulatory and risk management issues confronting them is not quite as bad as one year ago. When measured against a baseline 100-point scale, the sum of the regulatory challenges in 2015 would actually show a modest decline this year.

Or so reports Wolters Kluwer Financial Services in a new survey of regulatory and risk management pressures facing U.S. insurers. The study tracks 10 factors across two consecutive 12 month periods from September 2013 to September 2015 — the ability to comply with regulatory changes, maintain compliance staff and manage risk across business lines, among others — then calculates an "indicator score," a measure of regulatory complexity and the insurers' compliance and risk management challenges.

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