About this event
The Life Conference is the premier event for professionals interested in life insurance. Offering over 80 workshops as well as high level plenary sessions it’s the perfect opportunity to discover what’s hot and current in life insurance ensuring you get up to date on the latest thinking and innovation whilst meeting and exchanging ideas with a broad range of professionals.
Sponsorship and Exhibiting opportunities
Association with an IFoA event is an unmistakable marketing opportunity for both sector-specific companies and high-end brands. If you are interested in being a sponsor or an exhibitor, please contact Nicola Theobald.
We are delighted to confirm Ray Hammond, Europe’s most experienced futurologist, as our opening conference speaker. For almost 40 years he has been writing and speaking about the major trends that will shape business and society and is the author of fourteen books about the future. In 2010 he was honoured with a United Nation’s gold medal for services to futurology that was presented to him by President Mikal Gorbachev. He is a member of the Prudential Panel On Human Longevity.
After-dinner speaker confirmed
Dr. Niamh Shaw combines performance, writing, and her degrees in science and engineering to ignite people's curiosity about planet Earth and our place in it. As Artist in Residence at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, she explores crossovers in STEM, art, space themes & communication to share the human story of science. All of her activities are focussed towards fulfilling her life's work to get to space, to challenge perceptions of ourselves, and of our place in Space. In that capacity, she has experienced a zero-gravity flight, witnessed live launches & landings of astronaut crews, completed over 20 EVA hrs as analogue astronaut at simulated Mars missions, and has studied & lectured at ISU’s Space Studies Programme. She has shared her story about getting to space at prominent spoken at events including WIRED Live UK, Space Rocks (ESA), NASA Johnson Space Centre, Inspirefest, New Scientist (UK).
Niamh is the 2018 co-recipient of 'Outstanding Contribution to STEM Communications' awarded annually by Science Foundation Ireland and recently spoke at Áras an Uachtaráin in response to President Higgins speech celebrating Women in the Sciences on international Women's Day 2019. She provides space-themed events at national and international science and arts festivals, regularly contributes to BBC’s Sky at Night magazine, and since 2016, has lectured in Space Humanities at ISU’s Space Studies Programme. She recently completed her first BAI funded RTÉ radio series 'Curious Humans' and was an editorial consultant on RTE's 'To the Moon and Back', a cultural, scientific and artistic celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Moon landings.
- Registration Wed, 20/11/2019 - 16:45 - 18:20 Registration, Buffet Dinner and Exhibition
- Workshop Wed, 20/11/2019 - 17:00 - 17:50 Optional Workshop: Changing Nature of Employment Trends
The job for life has gone. More than ever, people switch jobs and even careers. Meanwhile the nature of work has changed. The gig economy is upon us. What does this mean for the life and pension products? And how can we reach those who fall outside traditional employment.
Speakers: Kuen Chik and Elena Djarlijeva, Employment Trends Working Party
- Transfer time Wed, 20/11/2019 - 18:20 - 18:30 Transfer time
- Plenary session Wed, 20/11/2019 - 18:30 - 18:45 Welcome to the Life Conference 2019
- Plenary session Wed, 20/11/2019 - 18:45 - 19:45 Plenary 1
Ray Hammond, Europe’s most experienced futurist and keynote speaker on future topics.
- Networking Wed, 20/11/2019 - 19:45 - 22:30 Drinks reception and Networking
- Registration Thu, 21/11/2019 - 08:15 - 08:45 Registration (for those who didn’t register on Wednesday)
- Plenary session Thu, 21/11/2019 - 08:45 - 09:00 Presidential update
- Plenary session Thu, 21/11/2019 - 09:00 - 09:15 Update from the Life Board
- Transfer time Thu, 21/11/2019 - 09:15 - 09:30 Transfer Time
- Workshop Thu, 21/11/2019 - 09:30 - 10:20 Workshop A
A1: Weathering the storm: How to build resilient investment portfolios as we approach end of credit cycle
In this presentation we investigate how insurers can protect their investment portfolio and balance sheet from the impact market risk as we approach the end of the credit cycle. Managing exposure to end of cycle market risks touches many aspects risk, capital and investment management for insurers. We analyse the behaviour of fixed income, equity and alternative investment strategies under stressed market environments, and explore the sensitivity of the Solvency II ratio to credit migration, correlation shocks and market volatility. Using a variety of historical and prospective stress tests we demonstrate the sensitivity of own funds to market risk shocks and suggest potential mitigations against these end of cycle risks through changes to asset allocation, use of derivatives, and exploring more defensive asset classes.The session is targeted at actuaries working in either the investment, risk or capital management functions of insurance companies.
Speaker: Gareth Haslip, J.P. Morgan Asset Management
A2: Protecting generation rent: are existing protection products fit for purpose?
Changes in affordability and aspiration mean that renting, rather than home ownership, is increasingly common for a new generation of customer. But the protection market continues to revolve around home buyers and owners. With around half of all babies now born into rented accommodation, is the protection market failing the next generation and missing a significant opportunity? In this session we will analyse new consumer research looking at the needs and perceptions of renters, and consider what this could mean for the future of the protection market in terms of product and distribution. We will also look at recent innovations in the protection market and how they could help to better meet the needs of renters, and grow the protection market.
Speaker: Richard Purcell and Siobhan Lough, Hymans Robertson
A3: The treatment of reinsurance under IFRS 17 and how reinsurance solutions may develop going forward
There are still remaining areas of uncertainty over how to treat reinsurance held under IFRS 17; this talk will explore outstanding questions and possible solutions. In addition, the talk will look at the sources of volatility that are introduced to the accounting balance sheet and P&L as a result of IFRS 17 and how reinsurance may help to manage this volatility.
Speakers: Thomas Bulpitt, Milliman LLP and Georgina Baker, Munich Re
A4: Finance Ambition - creating a transformed financial reporting environment for M&G
In the summer of 2017 M&G Prudential embarked upon an ambitious programme to transform the finance department within its UK insurance business. A key project was the design and build of a new actuarial modelling environment. This presentation tells the story of that project on behalf of the joint M&G Prudential and Willis Towers Watson project team. It will cover the following:
* Background - what M&G Prudential wanted to achieve and why
* Design - creating an ambitious vision of what the future could look like
* Delivery - making it real
* Benefits - what was achieved and what that meant for the year-end 2018 reporting cycle
* Transitioning to BAU - setting M&G Prudential up for the future
Speakers: Richard Waller, Willis Towers Watson and Gillian Cass, M&G Prudential
A5: Proxy Modelling in the UK: The regulator's view on best practice
The PRA will summarise the findings of recent research into the use of proxy models in the UK life insurance sector.Proxy models are widely used by life insurers with Internal Models to calculate their capital requirement, to manage risk and for other uses such as stress and scenario testing. Over 2018 and 2019, the PRA has conducted a survey of Life Internal Model firms, engaged with consultancies and other National Supervisory Authorities in order to assess the current practices in this space. In this presentation, we will summarise the findings from our research and analysis, outlining best practice and emerging trends.The intent is for the talk to stimulate conversation with the audience and contain a high degree of interaction.The session will assume prior knowledge of what a proxy model is and what it is used for, regression techniques and a basic level of statistics.
Speakers: Sarah O'Sullivan, Guy Brett-Robertson and George Holbrow-Wilshaw, Bank of England
A6: Equity Release Mortgages in Ireland
Equity release mortgages (ERMs), also called lifetime mortgages, have played an increasing role in generating income for retired home-owners. As new liquidity rules have reduced the supply of bank lending, so insurers have stepped in, encouraged by generous regulatory treatment for annuity writers. Some methods for valuing ERMs have proved controversial, particularly in relation to assumptions for future growth in house prices which determine whether the lender is able to recover the mortgage balance on the borrower’s death. As the volume of these assets grows on insurance balance sheets, there are concerns that insurers’ reliance on continued house price growth could make the industry less resilient to the next house market downturn. This paper describes the basic products and illustrates alternative valuation methods with reference to Ireland and the UK. We summarise recent research and provide example calculations to illustrate the competing methods, highlighting areas of actuarial debate. We conclude with a discussion of the value of these products – both positive and negative – to society as a whole.
Speakers: Andrew Smith, UCD and Antony Jeffery
A7: The countdown to the end of LIBOR
For over two decades LIBOR has been cited as the financial world’s most important number, underpinning $260trn of loans and derivatives and used worldwide as a benchmark for financial instruments. But now that it’s set to cease its existence, how is the Pension and Insurance market progressing on transitioning? We discuss both the market impact as traditional LDI back books, new hedging mandates, and the insurance industry shift, and the knock on effects for the cross currency, bond and loan markets that a LIBOR-less world creates.
Speaker: Elizabeth Armitage, Goldman Sachs and Nelly Terekhova, Legal and General
A8: The future of life products & distribution
The (re)insurance industry is being disrupted by changes in consumers’ behaviour, intense competition, emergence of new risk pools, and artificial intelligence (AI) used for pricing. In order to incorporate insurance awareness into consumers’ behaviours, the industry has to react. This has to be quick, easy and tailor-made. The use of apps, face recognition, wholesale connection, etc. is key to keep on top of the buying behaviour of their target market and guarantee retention of policies. Companies owning large databases with clients’ contact details have endless distribution capabilities.
Life (re)insurance companies devise the opportunity to evolve and strategically craft their type of offering and distribution channels to remain relevant. Lessons learnt from the GI and automotive industries might help achieving it.
Speakers: Gabriela Ojeda Triulzi, Deloitte and Olivia Duran de la Mora, Swiss Re
A9: Learnings from our first climate change-related disclosures (TCFD)
The PRA have made clear their expectation that climate change will be mainstreamed in insurance businesses’ risk frameworks. The first step in this journey is to measure exposure to climate changes’ many aspects.
In this joint talk from Aviva PLC and Aviva Investors, we will outline the steps we took in pulling together our first large-scale disclosures on the exposure of our business to climate change published in March 2019; in line with the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. We'll cover a brief “how-to” guide for those who have not yet embarked on thinking about these topics before giving a case study of how the learnings from a TCFD disclosure exercise can be applied to investment portfolios.
Speakers: Russell Bowdrey, Marte Borhaug and Iain Forrester, Aviva Investors
A10: Index based longevity hedging as a practical risk mitigation tool for deferred pension liabilities
The presenters will discuss some of the issues with (re)insuring deferred pension liabilities using traditional longevity swap, and illustrate using worked examples the risk mitigation impact of index based longevity hedges as a practical and more affordable alternative for both pensions funds and life insurers.
The worked examples use stochastic longevity models to quantify the unhedged risk and show how it is reduced by the index hedge. The residual longevity risk, including basis risk, is quantified using a 2 population stochastic longevity model.
The technical underpinnings of this work are part of the "Modelling, Measurement and Management of Longevity and Morbidity Risk" research programme funded by the Actuarial Research Centre of the IFoA.
Speakers: Andrew Cairns, Heriot Watt University and Alan Rae, Longitude Solutions
- Refreshments Thu, 21/11/2019 - 10:20 - 10:50 Morning refreshments
- Workshop Thu, 21/11/2019 - 10:50 - 11:40 Workshop B
B1: Impact of IFRS 17 for the UK Insurance Market
The IFOA has established three working parties to consider the impacts of IFRS 17 on the UK market. The Transversal working party has performed a research role, interrogating the IFRS 17 requirements to understand impact on Life business profitability and reporting / disclosure; potential effects of this on the life business, how products are designed and managed, and finally a view on comparison with and interaction with other reporting structures, including SII.
With the re-exposure of the Standard in the summer of 2019, the talk will provide insight into the Working Party's findings.
Speakers: James Isherwood, PwC, Dominic Veney, Pension Corporation and John Miller-Jennings, Swiss Re
B2: A Boardroom Perspective
Speaker: Seamus Creedon, Reliance Mutual, NED MIG Committee
B3: Embedding climate change risk – experiences and insights
In this presentation, L&G and Deloitte discuss their shared experience of quantitatively accounting for climate risk within an insurance portfolio. This talk addresses:
• The material impacts that climate risk has on life insurers, pension funds and GI insurers
• A coherent approach to treat climate risk across an organisation
• Our experiences of introducing climate risk awareness throughout an organisation, including some of the difficulties of which to be aware
• First-mover advantage, and the risks of being a late-mover
• Current regulatory focus and likely developments
Speakers: Andrew Tedder, Deloitte and Travis Elsum, L&G
B4: MASTERCLASS: Learning to speak body language
Most of us are experts at reading body language, even if we don’t know it. That is why we prefer to have face to face meetings, particularly when discussing a tricky subject. But very few people have a clue as to what their body language is revealing about them!
In this masterclass, we will look at:
-The difference between macro and micro gestures, what you can control and what you can’t
-Using your body language to change your feelings
-Using your body language to indicate credibility or approachability
-Body language tips for delivery of good and bad news
-Body language to create rapport
Speaker: Gill Hicks
B5: E-cigarettes and the impact on insurance
Smoking cessation has been a significant driver of high mortality improvements over the last 20 years. Now there is a rapid rise in awareness and use of e-cigarettes, in particular for younger ages due to wider access and use of newer marketing channels. Increasing concern that use of e-cigarettes could act as a gateway to future smoking.
Transition of existing smokers to e-cigarettes may improve mortality/morbidity; but the extent of these impacts remains unknown
Should e-cigarette users still be classified as smokers?
Any change to treatment of e-cigarettes at underwriting should trigger us to review our pricing.
Current mortality trend assumptions implicitly reflect transitions between non-smoker and smoker groups. With increasing use of e-cigarettes, these patterns may change.
Speaker: John Schoonbee, Swiss Re
B6: CMI Update - A look at the latest developments from CMI committees
Update on the latest developments from CMI Committees, including draft tables for pension annuities in payment, analysis of mortality and morbidity in term assurances, income protection "all offices" results and the latest research from the Mortality Projections Committee. Specialist technical knowledge not required, although a working knowledge of CMI outputs (such as the CMI Mortality Projections Model and "08" Series mortality tables) would be useful.
B7: M&A madness!
Rationalisation of the insurance landscape is well underway in the life space in the UK, and attentions are now being turned to similar European consolidation of back-books. This presentation will cover the drivers of recent M&A transactions, and how to deliver shareholder value through best in class capita, investment and operational management.
Speakers: Michael Eakins, Reassure and Ian Carey, KPMG
B8: Developing better retirement products in the UK
A look at the reasons why existing insurance products have fallen out of favour in retirement and how we might overcome this to produce better retirement solutions, either by combining existing products and tools or developing new ones.
Speakers: Clarence Er, Hymans Robertson, Esther Hawley, Barnett Waddingham and Danni Brotherston, St. James’s Place Wealth Management
B9: The LIBOR to SONIA transition – impact on derivatives markets
From the end of 2021, LIBOR may no longer be available and the Financial Conduct Authority will not compel banks to submit rates to calculate it. The transition away from LIBOR will have wide ranging impacts on derivatives markets and institutional investors including life insurers.
We will discuss:
-What is happening and why
-The impacts on derivatives markets
-The challenges for life insurers including what has enabled some sectors to transition swiftly and what is preventing others
-NatWest Market's experience of LIBOR-SONIA transition to-date as a leading rates derivatives market-maker, debt structuring bank and part of the BoE's working groups on risk-free rate reform . This will include evaluation of possible approaches to transition in terms of risk/costs and practicalities.
Speakers: Dhiran Dookhi, Willis Towers Watson and Michael Veldman and Simon Clark, NatWest Markets
B10: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – managing misrep in insurance
Managing misrepresentation is an ongoing challenge in life and health insurance. There is a tension between creating a quick and easy onboarding process while avoiding the adverse impact on financials and reputation that come with non-disclosure.
This talk covers:
-Results of a recent survey of UK insurers’ approaches to managing misrepresentation at underwriting and claims stage
-Best practice for managing and minimising misrepresentation
-Examples of use of data analytics to support management of misrepresentation
This talk demonstrates the value that actuaries can bring to the management of misrepresentation, in collaboration with underwriting, claims and distribution management colleagues.
Speaker: Adele Groyer, Gen Re
- Transfer time Thu, 21/11/2019 - 11:40 - 11:55 Transfer Time
- Workshop Thu, 21/11/2019 - 11:50 - 12:45 Workshop C
C1: Equity release mortgages: can we stop talking about regulation?
The presentation from the IFOA working party will cover:
- The ‘final’ SS3/17 regulatory requirements for ERM assets under Solvency II
- What it means for both the insurers that hold / write ERM and other stakeholders (including the customer)
-How is the market is adapting to the challenge?
-Are we done or do we see that there is more to come?
Looking forwards to 2020 onwards -
-Wider advances in risk and capital modelling of ERM assets for insurers
-Facing up to a challenge other than regulation: what’s next on the horizon for the industry?
Speakers: Tom Kenny, Just and Raj Saundh, EY
C2: Real-world credit modelling for insurance fixed income investing
Credit risk modelling for practical portfolio management requires a different emphasis from that used for capital, ALM and risk management purposes. Here we share our experience and established processes on investment-oriented credit modelling including how to fit term-structures accurately; the different uses of different historical data; projection and transaction optimization; economic forecasts and portfolio management actions; sharing of responsibilities between different teams. A thorough case study will be shown to demonstrate how this framework can help insurers design and test a credit portfolio and/or assess and mitigate credit downside risk within their own internal constraints.
Speakers: Ziling Jiang, Robert Payne and Cyril Bosse-Platiere, Neuberger Berman
C3: IFRS 17 - a deeper dive
We will discuss our insights gleaned to date on a practical level from the numerous impact assessments we have completed to date, the two implementation projects we are currently involved in, as well as our continuous communication with global colleagues on areas of interpretation within the standard.
In addition, we will discuss results from recent global surveys, including the risk adjustment survey in which 25 life/non life insurers across EMEA, Global, APAC and Americas have participated. We will also discuss tax and regulatory reporting options we are seeing in the market and will talk through a worked example, illustrating the impact on the Balance Sheet and P&L of moving to IFRS17.
Speakers: Joanne Longergan and Carol Lynch, Deloitte Ireland
C4: Data Science Applications for Dynamic Policyholder Behaviour in Life Insurance
- Data Science in Life Insurance
- Probability Estimation vs. Survival Analysis
- From Regression to Machine Learning
- Case Study 1: Policyholder Behavior in Traditional Life Insurance - Lapse
- Case Study 2: Policyholder Behavior in Credit Protection Insurance - Prepayment and Default
Speaker: Marco Aleandri, Univ. "La Sapienza"
C5: LV - Creating a Modern Mutual
LV is a Friendly Society that was founded in 1843 on the concepts of mutuality and membership which are strong as ever today. This talk covers the start of the journey to becoming a modern mutual.
- converting from a Friendly Society to a Company Limited by Guarantee, a process that hasn't been undertaken for many years
- still a mutual and owned by its members
- benefits of the conversion to members
- the process followed
- longer term plans
- considerations of fairness
Speakers: Tamsin Abbey, Deloitte and Mark Laidlaw, LVFS
C6: Cashflow Projection with R - Interactive Case Study
This will be a step-by-step interactive session for participants with no prior knowledge of R programming. Starting from scratch, participants will learn how to develop code to do the following:
-download, read in and set up a mortality basis
-visualise the data characteristics
-project cashflows resulting from the data
We will also cover how to wrap up the code into a function to allow calculations to be re-run easily using different input variables.
The code will be reproducible so that participants can run it on their own laptops. We will also provide access to a more complex example that participants will be able to refer to if they wish to develop their code further.
Speakers: Georgios Bakoloukas, Swiss Re
C7: 4M: modern modelling of mortality and morbidity
Two assumptions underlie the typical modelling of morbidity and mortality risks:
1. Major diseases pose independent risks.
2. The number of people involved in a medical trial are much greater than the number of risk indicators.
Clinically, the first assumption makes no sense. The second assumption is becoming increasingly problematic in a world of big data.
In this talk we will set out how Bayesian statistics can help life insurers navigate these limitations in pricing or reserving . We will give practical examples and a case study on tackling overfitting and competing risks.
Ultimately this will lead to more sophisticated and accurate assessments of co-morbidities and the timing of morbidity and mortality that individuals experience.
Speakers: Jonathan Hatchett and Alan Garbarino, Hymans Robertson
C8: Liquidity Risk Optimisation for UK Insurers
We explore the following areas:
- How do we define liquidity risk?;
- Driving forces behind focus on liquidity risk (increasing illiquid assets, higher competition in BPAs etc..);
- Regulatory feedback on liquidity risk so far;
- An Insurer's perspective (from a Treasury and annuity fund perspective);
- A Bank's perspective (from a trading point of view);
- Overlap in transactions between an insurer and bank;
- How to create a liquidity cost framework for new assets;
- Liquidity management tools (repos, liquidity facilities (open ended / contingent), bespoke CSAs, SPVs)
Speakers: Ben Mabley, Goldman Sachs and Mark Jordan, Aviva UK
C9: Income Protection: Opportunities for growth? Balancing distribution and proposition
A voyage across space and time, looking at the past and potential future evolution of income protection starting with the UK and moving further afield.
This presentation will look at income protection over time and across the globe, how traditionally it is sold in the advised space and explores the challenges of alternative distributions
Speakers: Denise Bates and Hilda Mansukhani, Swiss Re
C10: How neighbourhood characteristics can predict your longevity
In this session we will use highly-detailed geographical population data from the ONS to assess what socio-economic and other factors are most strongly associated with high or low mortality rates.
Speakers: Andrew Cairns, Heriot Watt University
- Refreshments Thu, 21/11/2019 - 12:45 - 13:45 Lunch
- Workshop Thu, 21/11/2019 - 13:45 - 14:35 Workshop D
D1: Riding the Waves
Financial Services are a significant contributor to the exchequer, and UK life insurers in particular, especially I-E companies.
This session considers the key drivers:
-I-E, its relationship to markets, recent tax changes, link to policyholder tax and the future of I-E
-Businesses taxed per accounts and influences on taxable profit
-Likely business shape of the future due to industry evolution
The session will also consider:
-Brexit – Direct and indirect effects e.g. ratings, market volatility
-Solvency II – How the business is managed, and how this affects tax? How does tax take affect Solvency II?
-IFRS 17 – what impact is expected?
The session will also consider current relevant legislative changes, and will touch on hot topics such as Brexit transactions.
Speakers: Matthew Little, Actrima, Lindsay J'afari-Pak, PwC and Paul Turnbull
D2: FCA's view of where customer harm might arise in the life insurance, pensions and platforms markets
The FCA, as the UK's conduct regulator of financial services firms, is focused on ensuring that markets are working well in the interests of consumers. This talk will specifically focus on our current view of which areas in the life insurance, pensions and platforms markets we believe present the highest risk of potential harm to consumers. This will be of interest to actuaries working in these markets, particularly in understanding the areas that the FCA will focus on in its work.
Speaker: Andrew Ruddle, Financial Conduct Authority
D3: IFRS 17 CSM Working Party Findings
The presentation can be expected to discuss areas based on work undertaken by the working party such as:
- Fair value approach for transition: issues relating to judgement/calibration
- Reinsurance: operational and financial implications of; mismatches; industry practice / emerging trends
- Loss components: comparisons of various methods of loss component amortisation
The presentation will include worked examples with the aim of making this a more practical rather than a pure theoretical discussion.
Speakers: Wijdan Yousuf, Aon, James Thorpe, Deloitte and Clarence Er, Hymans Robertson
D4: Increasing flexibility, transparency and value for your customers and the business
In this session, we will explore the opportunity that back book simplification brings and consider some of the following aspects:
-Are you changing to meet the needs of your customers?
-Simplifying your legacy business to be more agile, modern and engaging for your customers.
-Reducing costs and risks to compete in the current market
-Is this a window of opportunity - are you and your customers being left behind?
-Is doing nothing acceptable?
Speakers: Trevor Fannin, Willis Towers Watson and James Crispin, Aegon Group
D5: Unlocking the Code: Speaking Up, Conflicts of interest and AMS
This is a valuable opportunity for Members to gain insights into significant regulatory developments involving the IFoA. The presenters will provide a breakdown of the new Actuaries’ Code, with a focus on the new Guides on Speaking Up and Conflicts of interest.
The session will include an update on the introduction of Thematic Reviews of actuarial work as part of the implementation of the Actuarial Monitoring Scheme. We will provide insight into the background to the decision following our 2018 consultation, how the programme will work for those Members and organisations involved in reviews and will provide some examples of likely outputs.
Speakers: Leisha Watson and Judith Joy, The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
D6: Disruption in the Life sector: How are UK Life insurers turning threats into opportunities?
While demographic and societal changes are still impacting the life insurance landscape, insurers are becoming more comfortable with new technologies and changing from product-focused to customer-centric organisations. They are increasingly open to forming partnerships with InsurTechs to streamline operations, better serve customers and augment a changing workforce. Regulatory change such as IFRS17 is a catalyst to implement many of these strategic and operational changes, as well as determining viable business strategies for the future. In this talk, we examine how insurers are embracing these changes to forecast business risks in a more robust, accurate and efficient way.
Speakers: Colin Cummings and Shazia Azim, PwC
D7: The capital conundrum of illiquid assets
The perpertual low yield environment has driven firms to grow their illiquid asset portfolios. This investment strategy is being equally met by increasing regulatory scrutiny on the appropriateness of the capital allowance to back these assets, with common issues including the idiosyncratic nature of these assets. The lack of market standards exacerbates this challenge.
Based on the key findings from the Deloitte Illiquid Asset Calibration Survey, we will present some key themes emerging on the capital treatment of these asset classes, including the type of regulatory challenge being received. We will also take a forward looking approach in presenting our view of how the appropriate capital allowance for these assets will evolve in the future.
Speakers: Brandon Choong and Gabi Baumgartner, Deloitte
D8: Modifiable Risks
Re-thinking risk assessment to create better value, more inclusive products
Driven by the desire to act fairly toward policyholders as health deteriorates with age, a business model has been developed where we underwrite someone just once at the outset of the policy.
This does mean we miss the opportunity to assess more accurately modifiable risks over time, price our products more fairly and allow those who take positive action to improve their health to benefit directly from their efforts.
Is it possible for us to engage with customers on health without altering our products?
Does it make sense that we assess health only once during the policy lifetime given the impact individuals have on their health from their lifestyle decisions?
Speaker: Alan Martin, Swiss Re
D9: New Global Capital Regime via the IAIS & Comparisons to Solvency II
The Insurance Capital Standard (ICS) is being developed through a multiyear process of field-testing and public consultation led by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS). This presentation will cover a brief introduction to the ICS, including the background and timelines; - an insight into the recent developments and the main challenges encountered during field testing, as well as comparisons to Solvency II.
Speaker: Brian Ring and Kenneth McIvor, Willis Towers Watson
D10: MASTERCLASS: Managing Stress
Stress is an everyday part of modern life. There is good stress that aids our performance, and there is harmful stress. Continued harmful stress should be addressed seriously and should never be ignored. It can lead to long term physical and mental illness.
In this masterclass we will look at:
-The difference between good and harmful stress
-Why bother about stress – some stats
-A brief view of the neuroscience around stress
-Common signs of harmful stress
-Dealing with stress – tools, tips and techniques.
Speaker: Gill Hicks
- Transfer time Thu, 21/11/2019 - 14:35 - 14:50 Transfer Time
- Workshop Thu, 21/11/2019 - 14:50 - 15:40 Workshop E
E1: IFRS9 should you be worried?
This session will draw on the experience of the presenters working on the implementation of IFRS9 in Ireland. Covering the challenges faced by the Banking sector implementing IFRS9 and how challenges were addressed. What can the insurance sector learn?
Speakers: Colin Murphy and David McCaffrey, Deloitte Ireland
E2: What are the challenges for measuring with-profits funds under IFRS17?
We will give an overview of the IFRS17 implications for UK with-profits funds. There are some particularly complex problems that arise, in particular how the standard treats the inherited estate and shareholder burnthrough, as well as the measurement of contracts with long-term annuity guarantees. We will discuss the nature of these challenges, and progress within the industry to overcome them.
Speakers: Joanna Stansfield, LGBI and Shaun Gibbs, KPMG
E3: Climate Risk for insurers
We will look at the latest regulatory developments at UK, European and international levels. We will also consider supervisory initiatives (such as the climate change scenarios contained in this year’s industry stress test).
Speakers: Matthew Francis and Tom Filipinski, KPMG
E4: Re-imagining investment strategy and governance for bulk annuity insurers
In this presentation we will consider the following areas:
- Introduction, bulk purchase annuity insurance market background and outlook
- UK BPA insurers' current investment strategies and asset holdings
- Investment opportunities, looking at alternative, illiquid and longer dated fixed income assets
- Practical challenges e.g. governance, people, processes, actuarial models, to seize, source and manage these investment opportunities
- Regulatory requirements such as Solvency II Matching Adjustment (e.g. asset eligibility, trading and restructuring), internal credit rating and liquidity risk management frameworks
- Best in class and innovative investment frameworks
Speakers: Shazia Azim, PwC and David Land, Rothesay Life
E5: The future of the individual annuity market
A review of recent research and stats on the annuity market focussing on the part that annuities can play in later life planning. We will then look at annuity product trends including changes that we are expecting to fit within the 4 pots/investment pathways environment. This may include demand for fixed term and/or deferred annuities and we will consider the investment and other challenges this might bring for annuity providers and how to overcome them.
Speakers: Karen Brolly and Sean James, Hymans Robertson
E6: Capital light: white knight for the life insurance industry?
In this talk we discuss:
-How the life insurance industry lost its position in the UK savings industry
-How the industry has responded and how these strategies are faring
-How does the asset management industry see the competition from the life industry
-How the insurance / asset management industry competitive dynamic might evolve over time
Speaker: Gareth Sutcliffe, Willis Towers Watson
E7: How many people does it take to run a tontine?
Modern tontines, also called pooled annuity funds, are pooling structures that aim to pay a lifelong income to their retired participants. They do this by paying each surviving participant a portion of the fund values of the deceased. This enables the survivors to have a retirement income for longer compared to a drawdown situation.Modern tontines are a ''middle ground'' alternative to life annuities and drawdown. Participation in them reduces the risk of an individual running out of money before death but does not eliminate it entirely. The participants share their longevity risk among each other rather than transferring it to an insurance company or bearing it individually.A fundamental question is how many participants are needed to pay each of them a stable, lifelong income. We answer this by showing how many participants are needed to keep the variation of their income reasonably low. We allow for typical investment strategies and examine how the number of participants varies with the investment strategy.
Speaker: Catherine Donnelly, Heriot Watt University
E8: You've been IBORd!
The implications of Libor reform are potentially significant for many areas in which actuaries work, affecting both the asset and liability sides of the balance sheet, as well as creating wider issues affecting policyholders, reinsurance and performance benchmarking.
The working party will analyse some of the key implications affecting Life companies and discuss how these issues are being addressed across the industry.
Speaker: Simon Richards, Ronan Liston and Hetal Patel (IFoA Working Party)
E9: Incentivising desired risk behaviours in a modern workplace
Risk culture, which encompasses the behaviours, underlying values and beliefs which influence risk outcomes, is at the heart of effective risk management.
In this presentation we will explore the effectiveness of traditional incentives in promoting good risk culture, different motivation types and what makes people to self-motivate using recent psychological and industry research. We will demonstrate how having psychological needs met enables a good risk culture and that having a good organisation culture plays a critical role in achieving it.
We will also share an internal case study where we implemented novel ways to engage with staff and its impact on engagement and relatedness.
Speakers: Alicja Nocon and Megan Ferguson, Munich Re
E10: Mental health: my story
Carl Padget, Head of UW and Claims would present:
- His own personal mental health story
-The current mental health landscape
-The challenges of underwriting mental health
-What does the future hold for mental health and the life insurance industry?
Speaker: Carl Padget, Pacific Life Re Limited
- Refreshments Thu, 21/11/2019 - 15:40 - 16:10 Afternoon Refreshments
- Workshop Thu, 21/11/2019 - 16:10 - 17:00 Workshop F
F1: Deep dive into liquidity risk management – developing a robust framework
The release of the PRA consultation paper may signal a good time for insurers to review and update their liquidity risk management framework. Within this presentation we discuss our interpretation of what the PRA’s liquidity consultation paper means for insurers and how this compares to our understanding of current market practice through answering the following questions:
-How should an insurer develop and maintain its liquidity risk appetite?
-What are considered the key sources of liquidity risk for insurers?
-Which assets held by insurers can be considered liquid?
-How should an insurer determine an appropriate liquidity buffer to hold?
-What ongoing monitoring and reporting could be in place for liquidity?
-How is contingency planning considered in the context of liquidity?
Speakers: Sam Tufts, Ed Hawkins and Kabari Bhattacharya, EY
F2: Practical challenges of implementing the IFRS 17 Risk Adjustment
Benchmarking of approaches used across the UK industry to model the IFRS 17 Risk Adjustment, along with a practical case study.
Speakers: Jignesh Mistry and James Isherwood, PwC
F3: Using the CMI Projections Model for Irish lives
Joint presentation by the Demography Committee of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland and the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) looking at the challenges of using the CMI mortality projection model for Irish portfolios.
Speakers: Karl Murray, Society of Actuaries in Ireland Demography Committee
F4: MASTERCLASS: Becoming a great Chair of meetings
The skills of the chairperson can strongly influence a meeting’s outcome: a successful and productive meeting, or a meeting leaving many participants frustrated and bewildered and feeling their time was wasted.
In this masterclass we will look at chairing both face to face and online / telephone meetings. We will cover:
-Essential meeting preparation
-Who to invite and why
-Masterful chairing for face to face meetings, covering managing meeting derailments, dealing with over verbose and silent participants
-Dealing with extra challenges of chairing telephone meets.
Speaker: Gill Hicks
F5: Access all areas? – are we doing enough to offer cover to those who need it the most?
Year on year growth in the protection industry was seen yet again in 2018, but are we reaching those who really need cover the most?
We pick up on the industry focus on Access to Insurance and the progress being made to sign post to and offer appropriate cover for those who struggle to access insurance.
Using case studies from the UK and around the world, an Advisor and an Actuary discuss the opportunities for those who think differently and the threats to our industry if we don’t respond.
Speakers: Alan Knowles, Cura Financial Services and Zoe Woodroffe
F6: Why Behavioural Economics is necessary for the success of health apps
The importance of Behavioural Economics for the success of sustained health behaviour change as seen with GroHealth – who Swiss Re are partnering with to improve population health.
Co-facilitated by Swiss Re's market leading Behavioural Research Unit and GroHealth's Chief Operations Officer, we will focus on the need to embed BE into digital health applications to optimise customer engagement and aid long term behaviour change. Swiss Re has a partnership with GroHealth, an online programme designed to improve the health of people with diabetes and other metabolic diseases, with notable results achieved to date. Swiss Re's BRU has extensive experience working with insurance companies to understand the unconscious drivers of consumers' behaviour by conducting live field trials. Case study provided.
Speaker: Isobel Thomson-Cook, Swiss Re and Charlotte Summers, GroHealth
F7: Putting the Life Co balance sheet under the ESG microscope
Most of the discussions to date have focussed on the link between ESG factors and investment performance. From wildfires to hurricanes, however, recent years’ experience has shown us that ESG factors can also have a significant impact on the liability side of an insurer’s balance sheet.
In this presentation, we take a more holistic view of ESG risks - with a particular focus on climate change - and consider the potential future implications for life insurer balance sheets.
Speakers: Liam Mohan, Simon Jones and Clarence Er, Hymans Robertson
F8: Build-to-rent: An opportunity to bridge the housing deficit?
This talk will explore the BTR model, the merits and draw backs of the opportunity. We’ll take a look at the development of the funding market and consider the regulatory and operational implications of a BTR investment
Speakers: Richard Wilson and Miria Whittle, EY
F9: Bayesian Method for Small Population Longevity Risk Modelling
This talk considers the impact of sampling variation on the calibration of stochastic mortality models. Random variation in deaths counts results in parameter uncertainty in estimates of age, period and cohort effect in the model. In turn this has an impact on time series parameter estimates.With small populations, sampling variation causes an upwards bias in the estimated volatility of period effects using standard maximum likelihood methods. We seek to counteract this problem of bias using Bayesian inference.We find that the Bayesian methods generate improved estimation for the volatility of small population. The influence of the informative prior distribution (e.g. ARIMA likelihood) becomes stronger for smaller population and restricts the latent parameter estimation to be more like the proposed time series model. There are shifting effects observed for the influence of the sampling variation on the posterior distribution of the model parameters as well as the posterior predictive distribution of the projected mortality rate.
Speakers: Liang Chen, University College Cork and Torsten Kleinow, Heriot Watt University
- Transfer time Thu, 21/11/2019 - 17:00 - 17:15 Transfer Time
- Plenary session Thu, 21/11/2019 - 17:15 - 18:15 Plenary 2: Investec Life - Digitally enabled omni-channel life insurance to private banking clients
Investec Life was launched in South Africa in September 2017 as an extension of the "One Place" holistic financial services proposition that Investec offers its private banking clients.
The innovative model has:
- Entirely digitised processes (including embedded dynamic underwriting)
- Omni-channel flexibilty, enabling clients to use vary the interaction channel of their choice (digital / call / face-to-face)
- Life, disability and illness products designed for high income individuals (up to R30 million life cover available online / app)
This "high-tech high-touch" approach, streamlining the process of purchasing life insurance by blending modern technology with private client relationships has proved successful, and one that can set a path for the industry going forward.
Speaker: Michael Goemans, Investec Life South Africa
- Other Thu, 21/11/2019 - 18:15 - 19:15 Delegate free time
- Networking Thu, 21/11/2019 - 19:15 - 20:00 Drinks reception at the CCD
- Dinner Thu, 21/11/2019 - 20:00 - 23:30 Conference dinner
- Registration Fri, 22/11/2019 - 08:15 - 09:00 Registration (for those yet to register)
- Plenary session Fri, 22/11/2019 - 09:00 - 10:00 Plenary 3: Risk - key to sustainable success
An insight to Risk and its management, covering:
· Road to success - the evolutionary journey of Risk Management to date.
· Building blocks of effective Risk oversight and management.
· Sustaining success in a changing world.
· Adaptation and evolution of Risk functions.
The session will also explore the role of actuaries in multi-disciplined Risk teams, along with a vision of Risk functions of tomorrow.
Speakers: Richard Charlton, Deloitte and TBC
- Transfer time Fri, 22/11/2019 - 10:00 - 10:15 Transfer time
- Workshop Fri, 22/11/2019 - 10:15 - 11:05 Workshop G
G1: Dementia and insurance: cognitive protection
With the rising prevalence of dementia, how can we manage this risk effectively and can insurance do more?
In 2025, the number of people living with dementia in the UK will pass one million. But yet incidence has fallen at all ages in recent years. How well do we understand the diseases which cause dementia? Can we predict who might develop dementia? What is technology's role? Matt Singleton, Ageing Lead at Swiss Re, will cover these topics and how insurance could help people address their concerns.
Speaker: Matt Singleton, Swiss Re
G2: Data science: Practical applications in Life (re)insurance
This talk will outline concrete examples of the use of data science in life insurance, and present the findings of a recent survey on the use of data science by life insurers. We will also do a deep dive into one particular case study on the use of data science by a US based life insurer.
Speakers: Eamon Comerford, Milliman and Declan Whiteford, Pramerica
G3: Growing pains: taking the strain
The ability to grow and simultaneously enact a progressive dividend policy is key to the valuation of many life insurers. For annuity writers in particular, a key challenge is the need to fund capital-consumptive new business strain (NBS) as a consequence of writing the business intended to fund future distributions.
Reinsurance, investment strategy and capital provision all have roles to play. Here, we:
- examine success stories to-date and consider how NBS might impact future progression of the BPA market
- look at how firms manage NBS and the other levers available to boost capital generation throughout the product lifecycle
- consider how, with IFRS17 on the horizon, changes in reinsurance usage and management of accounting profits might change the story
Speakers: Owen Griffiths, L&G , Andrew Kenyon and Robin Thompson, Natwest Markets
G4: MASTERCLASS: Creating a great work life balance and maintaining personal boundaries
Attention to creating and maintaining a well- balanced life is essential to current and future emotional, physical and mental health. With increasing pressure from work, many people pay little attention to the many other aspects of life that can create a healthy and fulfilling life.
-Why a varied life balance is important
-Choose which areas of a balanced life might add to your wellbeing and resilience
-Check in on current life balance
-Use a simple tool, the life balance wheel, that can be used regularly to create and achieve personal goals to achieve good life balance
-Understanding what is getting in the way. Creating personal boundaries, and sticking to them!
Speaker: Gill Hicks
G5: Operational risk modelling developments in Insurance 2.0
Operational risk remains a specific area of challenge for many firms due to the lack of data and high level of subjectivity in quantifying it. Following the positive response from our presentation last year, we have continued further research and performed another survey to understand how market practice has evolved over the year in modelling operational risk. We have also explored further areas such as operational resilience and how it has impacted firms’ approach in assessing operational risk.
Speakers: Nicole Pang, Eamon McGinnity and Joanne Thorpe, KPMG
G6: Bermuda: a success triangle?
Travel guides exult in its pink-sand beaches and maritime history. But alongside tourism, insurance and reinsurance dominates the Bermudian economy. With the life consolidation market growing rapidly across Europe, we look at the crucial role being played by Bermuda-based firms.
Alongside Switzerland, Bermuda (the most-populous of Britain’s remaining overseas territories) is one of just two jurisdictions with full Solvency II-equivalent status. Here, we look at three key aspects, specifically:
- the role of local regulators in facilitating expansion
- the experience of actuaries living and working in the region
- similarities and differences in the way that capital providers and hedge counterparties think about (re)insurers operating in different territories
Speakers: Neil Burt, Monument Re, Liam Peek and Martin Eilertsen, Natwest Markets
G7: With Profits Funds: consideration of current events including the thematic review
Update on with profits from recent market activity and regulatory updates including the FCA with profits review. The talk will consider the implications for with profits funds from a strategic and operational perspective .
The presenters will cover both a firm and consulting perspective; and the format will be a combination of presentation and panel for discussion.
Speakers: Kris Overlunde, PwC, Kate Stewart Roper, Standard Life and Jon Welsh, Wesleyan
G8: IFRS 17: Where are we and what are the key issues facing the UK life industry?
IFRS 17: Where are we and what are the key issues facing the UK life industry?
The Members of the IFOA Financial Reporting Group together with a Guest Speaker (to be announced) will:
(1) Provide an update on development from the IFRS 17 re-exposure, Transition Resource Group and EU endorsement process.
(2) Examine key issues for products in the UK life insurance market and where insurers are in their implementation journey.
(3) Provide an update on the IFoA and IAA response to IFRS 17.
Speakers: Anthony Coughlan, Richard Olswang and Kamran Foroughi, Members of the IFOA Financial Reporting Group
G9: Blockchain and how it will change insurance!
In recent years regulation has been the big disrupter to the insurance industry. However, have you considered what the impact of new technology might be?
In this presentation Brendan (actuarial technology specialist) and Amy (Blockchain Lab Manager) will demonstrate how Blockchain could potentially change every insurance company’s processes in order to unlock new value. This presentation will outline current blockchain use cases that are being explored including; underwriting, pricing, policy administration, experience analysis, fraud detection and actuarial reporting.
Speakers: Brenden Guckian and Amy Pugh, Deloitte Ireland
G10: Are we really all the same? Evolving baseline and longevity improvement trends
In this session, we bring together insights from Club Vita on mortality baseline and improvement trends from three countries with growing longevity risk transfer markets – UK, Canada and USA. We compare and contrast the importance of different rating factors in different locales, along with the emerging understanding of longevity trends both at the macro and socio-economic level. We will include case studies to highlight the different ways the CMI model can be leveraged to reflect socio-economic differences.
Speaker: Steven Baxter, Club Vita
- Refreshments Fri, 22/11/2019 - 11:05 - 11:45 Morning refreshments
- Workshop Fri, 22/11/2019 - 11:45 - 12:35 Workshop H
H1: Annuities Reinvented
Pure drawdown investment strategies tend to rely on bonds to provide income sustainability. Milliman’s actuarial and financial risk management teams have carried out comprehensive research to understand whether including annuities within the retirement “asset mix” can improve income sustainability and yet still offer competitive death benefits.
This talk summarises research into annuity-equity and bond-equity strategies, assessed through three key consumer metrics:
- Likelihood of meeting a target income
- Average shortfall where income is not met
- Average death benefit
Speaker: Kyle Audley and Peter Lin, Milliman LLP
H2: NNEG calculations with parameter estimation risk
Speaker: Radu Tunaru
H3: Sustainable Investment – what’s driving changes in insurers’ investment strategy?
Insurers are increasingly focused on the sustainability of their investment portfolios and wider business models. Additionally, recent regulatory proposals look set to require UK and European insurers to take account of, and report on, sustainability risk exposures. This is driving change in insurers’ investment strategy and risk management.
- A Sustainable Investment framework for investment strategy;
- The challenges, opportunities, and risks arising from implementing this framework, and the key roles for investment and risk professionals;
- The potential investment outcomes, considering both the societal impact of those investments and the impact on investment returns;
Finally, we’ll provide insights into what insurers are doing including the results of an industry survey; and what can be learned from other institutional investors.
Speakers: Keith Goodby, Aviva, Iain Forrester, Aviva Investors and Dhiran Dookhi, Willis Towers Watson
H4: Marriage matters: a practical guide to pricing contingent dependants
With interest rates at historic lows, dependant proportions and age difference are increasingly material to valuing pension scheme and annuitant portfolios, with spreads of up to 6% in total liability value between the most and least affluent groups of pensioners. They have become a growing focus for longevity swap and bulk annuity transactions and can be a key driver of price differentials in a competitive market. This session offers a practical tour of the latest modelling techniques, covering
- the problem of survey non-respondent bias and how to deal with it,
- the limitations of experience data for pricing current lives, and
- how member tracing can be used to tackle these issues and improve accuracy.
Speakers: Andy Harding, Aon and Luke Davies, LexisNexis Risk Solutions
H5: Distant emerging risks
As technology and society develop, risks once confined to scientific journals are becoming more evident in wider society.
Recently, insurance companies and regulators have engaged with the financial risks of climate change, recognising the magnitude of potential impacts. There is significant scope for further research, across risk identification, risk management and developing disclosure. But what risks are next on the horizon? And what lessons can we take from the approach to recent emerging risks such as climate change and cyber risk?
This talk will consider the operational, financial and demographic effects of:
- Climate change - changing environments and increased severe weather events
- Bioengineering - the development of personalised medicines
- Automation and universal basic income
- Antibiotic resistance
Speakers: Claire Booth and Emma Hutchinson, Milliman LLP
H6: Are insurance managers appropriately incentivised?
In today's market are the objectives of shareholders and insurance managers properly aligned? Jamie and Peter will explore:
a) The targets that insurers aim for;
b) How these targets differ for consolidators, mutuals, UK-based insurers and global insurers; and
c) Whether the targets continue to be appropriate and what could, and should, be changed.
Speakers: James Logie, Resolution Life and Peter Ford, Deloitte
H7: Implementing IFRS 17 discount curves: theoretical and practical challenges
We review the key considerations for implementing the IFRS 17 discount curve, with a focus on stochastically valued liabilities. The presentation will cover how insurers have approached the incorporation of a liquidity premium in the past and discuss where the IFRS 17 approach may differ, as well as the potential solutions which insurers may adopt.
Speaker: Gavin Conn, Moody's Analytics
H8: Brexit – what happened next?
Brexit has meant the transfer of several insurance books to Ireland. This presentation will look at what this means for an Irish firm taking on one of these large books of business, told from the perspective of a newly established internal actuarial function.
Speakers: Charlotte Midford and Chris Scott, Standard Life
H9: Longevity Risk Realism - seeing the wood from the trees
It is surprising how many stochastic mortality models in widespread use do not actually capture important features observed in national mortality experience data. We think there is no need for this. We show how these key features can be captured in a model and – for good measure – calibrate it and compare it to some standard models.
Speakers: Tim Gordon and Kishore Ananda, Aon
H10: Genetic testing, anti-selection risk and the implications for life and health insurers
This session will provide insights into emerging trends in genetic testing and will address insurer’s exposure to anti-selection as a result of different regulatory actions in key insurance markets.
Speaker: Florian Rechfeld and Natalie Kelly, Swiss Re
- Transfer time Fri, 22/11/2019 - 12:35 - 12:50 Transfer Time
- Plenary session Fri, 22/11/2019 - 12:50 - 13:50 Plenary 4: Professional Skills - The Trusted Actuary
Why trust an actuary?
Trust me, I’m an actuary
In these turbulent uncertain times there is a need for professions to be trusted and reliable.
This may mean not taking the easy road and standing up against others.
How do we ensure that actuaries are, and are seen to be, professional and indeed are at the forefront of all professions? Is our public interest commitment recognised or at the end of the day are we just viewed as selling services and products?
This session will discuss the challenges with the aid of videos and vignettes and look to get you all thinking.
This session is designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training requirements for experienced members.
Speakers: Malcolm Slee, Professional Skills Sub-Committee, James Tufts, EY and Maeve Sherry, Aviva Ireland
- Plenary session Fri, 22/11/2019 - 13:50 - 14:00 Chair closing remarks
- Other Fri, 22/11/2019 - 14:00 Conference close and lunch on the run
Conference presentations will be available two weeks before the start of the conference.