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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Events calendar

  • The Growth Mindset for Actuaries

    13 October 2021 - 8 December 2021

    Fully booked.

    This practical course is aimed at actuaries at any stage of their career who want to develop their own growth mindset and apply it to their work setting and personal or professional lifelong learning. The content of the course builds on the lecture given by Dr Helen Wright on Growth Mindset as part of the President’s 2021 Lecture series, and will be delivered over a period of 2 months, from mid-October to early December.

  • Spaces available

    The role of actuaries within the health sector varies considerably from one country to another, due to differences in the local evolution of health systems and the funding models for health services. 

  • Spaces available

    This paper outlines key frameworks for reserving validation and techniques employed. Many companies lack an embedded reserve validation framework and validation is viewed as piecemeal and unstructured.  The paper outlines a case study demonstrating how successful machine learning techniques will become and then goes on to discuss implications.  The paper explores common validation approaches and their role in enhancing governance and confidence.

  • Spaces available

    Content will be aimed at all actuaries looking to understand the issues surrounding mental health in insurance and in particular those looking to ensure products and processes widen access for, and are most useful to, those experiencing periods of poor mental health.
     

  • Spaces available

    The IFoA Policy Briefing 'Can we help consumers avoid running out of money in retirement' examined the benefits of blending a lifetime annuity with income drawdown. Panellists, including providers and advisers, will look at the market practicalities of taking the actuarial theory through into the core advice propositions used by IFAs and Fund Managers. They will share a number of practical issues such as investment consequences before and after retirement and the level of annuity that is appropriate and answer questions from the audience.

  • Speech from the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey

    Lincoln's Inn The Treasury Office, London WC2A 3TL
    1 December 2021

    The IFoA is pleased to be hosting the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, to deliver a speech on delivering policyholder protection in insurance regulation.

    The speech will be presented to an in-person audience, and simultaneously live-streamed, at 14.00 on Wednesday 1st December.

  • The Many Faces of Bias

    2 December 2021

    Spaces available

    This webinar looks at the many types of biases, both conscious and unconscious and the impacts they can have in the workplace.  Raising our own awareness and understanding of the issues can help us avoid the pitfalls of unconscious bias in particular.  We’ve all heard the phrase ‘office banter’ but are we sure that’s how those on the receiving end perceive it and is it ok to go along with it?

  • Spaces available

    Actuaries need to take action now - but how?  With a focus on climate change, this session will provide informed insight to enable you to improve your knowledge and understanding of the issues involved, demonstrate how it will impact advice to your clients, and highlight prospective opportunities for actuaries within pensions and wider fields.

  • Spaces available

    Pension scams have become more prevalent as a result of the pandemic, and Trustees have increased responsibilities to protect members, which means that actuaries need to be in a position to provide advice in this area. Our specialist panel will include a professional trustee, an IFA and head administrator, two of whom are members of PASA.

  • Spaces available

    The covid-19 pandemic creates a challenge for actuaries analysing experience data that includes mortality shocks.  To address this we present a methodology for modelling portfolio mortality data that offers local flexibility in the time dimension.  The approach permits the identification of seasonal variation, mortality shocks and late-reported deaths.  The methodology also allows actuaries to measure portfolio-specific mortality improvements.  Results are given for a mature annuity portfolio in the UK

  • Spaces available

    In this webinar, the authors of the 2021 Brian Hey prize winning paper present a new deep learning model called the LocalGLMnet. While deep learning models lead to very competitive regression models, often outperforming classical statistical models such as generalized linear models, the disadvantage is that deep learning solutions are difficult to interpret and explain, and variable selection is not easily possible.

  • Spaces available

    The dominant underwriting approach is a mix between rule-based engines and traditional underwriting. Applications are first assessed by automated rule-based engines which typically are capable of processing only simple applications. The remaining applications are reviewed by underwriters or referred to the reinsurers. This research aims to construct predictive machine learning models for complicated applications that cannot be processed by rule-based engines.

  • Spaces available

    With the Pension Schemes Act 2021 requiring a long term strategy from Trustees and sponsors, choosing a pensions endgame strategy has become even more critical. However, it is important that the endgame options available are adequately assessed before choosing one. With an ever-increasing array of creative and innovative options available, this decision may not be straightforward.