The Archive of the Equitable Life Assurance Society contains the first evidence of the scientific practice of life insurance on the basis of 'actuarial' analysis of mortality and mathematics

The Archive presents an almost continuous record of how life insurance operated and endured over nearly 200 years as new companies entered an uncertain market in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The Society for Equitable Assurances on Lives and Survivorships first prospected for policy applicants with tables of level premiums calculated by age. It conducted the first actuarial valuation of liabilities (1776) and it pioneered the distribution of surplus in the first 'reversionary bonus' (1781) and 'interim bonus' (1801) among its members.

The term 'actuary' was first coined by the Society in its Deed of Settlement of 1762 and the role was later fulfilled in the modern sense with the appointment of a person skilled in probability and financial matters, most notably William Morgan from 1775.

Behind these landmarks in how life assurance has developed, not only to protect against the contingencies of life but also as a vehicle for providential return in later life, there is the work of individual mathematical thinkers and practitioners

James Dodson (ca. 1705-1757) produced for the first time a level premium for each age of applicant for an increasing or varying risk but he died leaving others to see his proposals for an insurance society through to fruition.

Edward Rowe Mores (1731-1778) and others then strove to establish the Society on sound administrative and mathematical principles. The Archive has original manuscript evidence of the mathematical advice of Richard Price (1723-1791) (dissenting minister and commentator at a time of momentous political changes) and principally of William Morgan, who served as Actuary from 1775 to 1830.

William Morgan would be followed by his younger son Arthur and then by other illustrious names, among them Henry Manly (1844-1914) (who developed the theoretical background of staff pension funds, the Society selling pensions from 1913), George Lidstone (1870-1952) and Sir William Elderton (1877-1962) both of whom were awarded gold medals by the Faculty of Actuaries and Institute of Actuaries for contributions to the advance of actuarial science.

The Society’s first years as an early ‘mutual’ office were marked by contest between its first subscribers (seeking return on initial risk capital they had put in to help set up the Society) and the interests of new applicants the business sought to attract

Debates continued about fair allocation of an accumulating surplus among qualifying members, whilst an actuarial perspective looked to ensure prudent levels of funding to meet the Society’s potential responsibilities for the next generations of policyholders.

There were external challenges to the Society’s apparent reliance on specific mortality tables (the experience of Northampton) over the long term and others advocating pooling this experience with wider sources for an improved forecast of life expectancy.

As William Morgan was called upon by government to provide mortality assumptions for viable sales of annuities in the government’s borrowing for state revenue, and the Society leading by example in its practice of regular valuations, it might be said that he fulfilled the roles of professional model and government actuarial adviser in the Society’s first fifty years.

Nearing the end of his fifty years in office, Morgan would have his work challenged by John Finlaison, first Actuary to the government, and others. Although the Society’s actuaries would play little part in the establishment of the Institute of Actuaries the Society’s part in designing the framework for scientific insurance practice and development cannot be denied. John Finlaison became the first president of the Institute of Actuaries.

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  • Autumn Lecture 2020: Professor Elroy Dimson

    Online webinar
    14 October 2020

    Spaces available

    Many individuals and institutions have a long-term focus, and invest funds for the benefit of future generations. Their strategy should reflect their long horizon. University endowments are one of the oldest classes of institutional investor, and I will present the first study of the management of these endowments over the very long term.

  • GIRO Conference 2020 Webinar Series

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    02-13 November 2020
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    This year's GIRO has been re-designed as a virtual conference to offer members and non-members the opportunity to get up to date content from leading experts in the general insurance field via online webinars. All sessions will be recorded and made available to purchase and re-watch post-event on the IFoA's GI Online Learning Resource area

  • Life Conference 2020 Webinar Series

    Online
    16 November 2020 - 27 November 2020

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    This year's Life Conference has been re-designed as a virtual conference to offer members and non-members the opportunity to get up to date content from leading experts in the life insurance field via online webinars. All sessions will be recorded and made available to purchase and re-watch post-event on the IFoA's website.

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    The webinar will discuss the challenges and opportunities schemes face in evaluating end game options, choosing a target state and understanding the impact this strategic decision could have on member outcomes long after the “end state” is reached. Adolfo, Kevin and Rhian bring over 60 years of experience in the industry and a variety of perspectives as scheme actuary, covenant adviser, trustee, de-risking adviser and insurer.

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    Cash-flow driven investing is a game-changer for DB pension funds navigating their end-game. Suitable for sponsors who want to reduce risks on their balance sheets. And for trustees, it shifts the focus to providing greater certainty of returns, managing funding level volatility and ensuring they have enough income to pay cash-flow requirements.

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    Patrick Kennedy, Partner at Gateley Legal and Founding Director of Entrust (a leading professional pensions trustee company), will be delivering an update on the latest legal developments during the course of 2020. With both a pensions legal perspective and over 25 years of trustee service, Patrick will seek to highlight how the letter of the law has continued to evolve against the backdrop of a difficult and challenging year

  • Spaces available

    The talk will provide an understanding of the priorities and relationships between deficit reduction contributions, in the context of wider scheme funding, and different types of value outflow from the employer based on the working party’s recently published report.