James Dodson's First Lecture on Insurances is a landmark original text that first set down the actuarial basis for a mutual life assurance company to operate

Dodson demonstrated how a 'Corperation for Insuring Lives' could be created and sustain a profitable business that would deliver claim payments to beneficiaries of policyholders paying level premiums for the whole of life or for limited term. Premiums payable according to age were calculated mathematically from mortality experience and projections of future claims on the overall fund were demonstrated. 

James Dodson's manuscript

The original text by Dodson, however, disappeared in the years after his death in November 1757 and our knowledge of it comes from two handwritten copies transcribed from the original for the Society for Equitable Assurances on Lives and Survivorships

The Archive holds both copies. In an appendix to his history of the Society, Equitable Assurances (1962), Maurice Ogborn explains how James Dodson's original outlines were written out for the Society's use by arrangement through Dodson's executor, William Mountaine, who also advised the Society on mathematical questions.

The lectures may have been written out by Dodson's son, also James Dodson or by John Edwards, both of whom were 'actuaries' to the Society. The 'Lecture' was the 'first investigation into the principles of operation of a life assurance business' (M E Ogborn, 1962). 'Dodson indulges in a certain amount of sensitivity testing both the mortality rates and the investment assumptions ... A proposal for the distribution of surplus is included too. [Dodson's] insight into the workings of his projected life insurance office... is remarkable.' (S. Haberman and T A Sibbett (editors), History of Actuarial Science, 1995).

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  • Finance in the Public Interest Series

    16 March 2021 - 23 March 2021

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    There is widening debate that many of our social, financial and regulatory institutions need to be rethought so that we can create more sustainable futures, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the policy/macro-economic response to the pandemic and how it affects consumers, as well as the impending climate crisis. This multi-day series of three keynote webinars, individually presented by leading economist John Kay, Sir Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Ashok Gupta, Chair at Mercer Ltd, and Nico Aspinall, Chief Investment Officer at B&CE, will open up discussion on these essential topics. The series will culminate in a panel session with Chief Economist of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane.

  • The price is righter

    16 March 2021

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    This webinar provides an overview of the state of the UK protection market, and how different insurers are using different levels of sophistication to price (such as using customer demand models). It considers how insurers have implemented these sophisticated pricing techniques, and the practical challenges they have faced.

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    This discussion will revolve around the latest industry developments including and introduction to Part VII transfers and Schemes of Arrangement (process, parties involved and recent events), insights and lessons from recent with-profits transactions and restructurings (including Equitable Life and Pru-Rothesay), how firms can apply these learnings to future arrangements, and the outlook for future with-profits transactions and restructurings (including the impacts of Covid-19 and Brexit)


  • Spaces available

    What is stewardship and how has the landscape changed under the 2020 UK Stewardship Code? How does effective stewardship create long term value for beneficiaries and what roles do asset owners and asset managers play in active stewardship. This webinar will offer answers to these questions in a practical approach to stewardship reporting.

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    Mis-estimation risk is a key element of demographic risk, and past work has focused on mis-estimation risk on a run-off basis.  However, this does not meet the requirements of regulatory regimes like Solvency II, which demands that capital requirements are set through the prism of a finite horizon like one year.  This paper presents a value-at-risk approach to mis-estimation risk suitable for Solvency II work.