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Highlights of the Life Conference 2018 - Edinburgh

Tuesday 19 March 2019 09:00 - 16:30

This one day seminar is suitable for those who could not attend last year's annual Life Conference in Liverpool, but want to see the highlights. Having reviewed session feedback, the Conference Committee have now put together a high-quality technical programme.

Confirmed speakers

  • Richard Baddon, Deloitte
  • Peter Banthorpe, RGA
  • Ashley Campbell, RMS
  • Andy Dunbar, Standard Life
  • Matthew Edwards, Willis Towers Watson
  • Shailee Jethwa, KPMG
  • James Logie
  • Callum MacKenzie, Standard Life
  • Hayden Matthews, Sun Life Financials of Canada
09.00-09.30 Registration
09.30-09.40 Chairs Welcome: Dawn Whittaker

Plenary 1: Advances in Predicting Mortality and Morbidity with Genetics and the Risk of Anti-selection

Significant advances in the understanding of genetics mean scientists are now redefining medical treatment and prevention based on a person’s genetics. These developments will could redefine insurance medicine, underwriting and actuarial functions.  This presentation will introduce the results of a new study predicting mortality and morbidity outcomes in a dataset of 500,000 lives.  Using medical, lifestyle and genetic data the research demonstrates how adding knowledge of a person’s genetics to conventional rating factors significantly alters the prediction of an individual’s risk of dying, developing heart attack, cancer and stroke.  The impact on the life insurance industry will be discussed with particular focus on the potential for anti-selection if insurers cannot access the same genetic information during underwriting.

Speaker: Peter Banthorpe, RGA


Plenary 2: Automating Retirement

The presentation will give insights into the development of an holistic automated advice system for at and in retirement. Possibly the most complex of all financial advice. We will explore the challenges customers face when navigating the post pension freedom environment and how technology can deliver an engaging, interactive and understandable way to help them build a solution which is right for them. Applying actuarial skills has been very important but incorporating the vagaries of real lives and the limited financial knowledge of end customers has also been essential.

Speakers: Andy Dunbar and Callum MacKenzie, Standard Life


Morning refreshments

Plenary 3: Reimagining the 1918 Pandemic

The great 1918 influenza pandemic (“Spanish Flu”) killed 20-50 million people, more people than the First World War. A well-known feature of this event is that the highest mortality rate was amongst young adults. The role of the immune system in this has long been suspected but incompletely understood.

100 years on, new genomic research into “antigenic seniority” helps explain this feature, and the lower than expected mortality among older individuals.  This new understanding is important for life insurers when modeling influenza mortality.

This presentation will explore how an individual’s vulnerability depends crucially on their exposure to influenza during their lifetime, especially childhood.  I will consider the present-day implications for the current population under local healthcare conditions.

Speaker: Ashley Campbell, RMS

12.35-13.35 Lunch

Plenary 4: Life Insurance Consolidation: Past, Present and Future

The UK life insurance industry has a long, well-known history of consolidation, but what about in Europe?

- What have been the drivers behind M&A in the UK?
- What are the emerging trends in Europe?
- What will happen next?

Speakers: Richard Baddon, Deloitte and James Logie


Plenary 5: Advanced ‘Big Data’ Analytics for Mortality

Advanced analytics and ‘big data’ are one of the latest sources of competitive advantage.  In this session, the speakers outline a broad range of advanced analytical techniques (e.g. neural networks, GLMs, GBMs) and the appropriate criteria for choosing between them (e.g. predictiveness v interpretability).  They then present the results of two case studies using Gradient Boosted Machine methods in conjunction with a range of third party data on large multi-portfolio datasets (one assurance based, relating to large pool of US assured lives data, one pension based, relating to a very large pool of UK DB pension schemes).

Speaker: Matthew Edwards, Willis Towers Watson


Afternoon refreshments


Plenary 6:   There is more to With-Profits Life than Non-Profit Conversion:  Moving Endowments to Prospective

Sun Life Financial of Canada (UK) has significantly simplified its last remaining with-profits fund, the SLOC With-Profits Fund, including changing the endowment bonus declaration to be based on a prospective BRV method rather than the retrospective asset share method. In this case study we will discuss the technical and practical aspects of the simplifications, and how these have benefitted policyholders in terms of stability, fairness and cost reduction.

Speakers: Shailee Jethwa, KPMG and Hayden Matthews, Sun Life Financial of Canada

16.30 Close of event




Apex Grassmarket Hotel, 31-35 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2HS

Nearest Public Transport

Waverley Station