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The general principle of impartiality

5.1 Principle 3 of the Code provides that:

Members must ensure that their professional judgement is not compromised, and cannot reasonably be seen to be compromised, by bias, conflict of interest, or the undue influence of others.”

5.2 Impartiality can be described as the principle that decisions ought to be based on objective criteria, rather than on the basis of bias, prejudice, or preferring to benefit one person over another for improper reasons.


Exercising professional judgment

5.3 A Member exercising professional judgement will need to do so, and be seen to do so, in a way which is free from bias (actual or perceived) and that ensures they are able to give advice which is independent of any personal interests or feelings.

Resolve or desist from acting

5.4 From time to time, Members may be exposed to situations that risk impairing their objectivity.  If the circumstances of an instruction, relationship with a user and/or other factors increase the risk of compromising the impartiality of a Member’s professional judgement over the course of a piece of work, then the Member may be better not to accept the instruction.  If, having accepted an instruction, a Member identifies circumstances that compromise, or are seen to compromise, their professional judgement, the Member will need to desist from acting; this may involve explaining the situation to the user and helping them make alternative arrangements.


What would a fair-minded observer think?

5.5 When thinking about impartiality, Members will need to ask themselves whether there is any conflict between the advice which they are giving, or decisions which they are making, and their own personal interests.  A good test is to imagine a fair-minded and informed observer: would this person have any reason to suspect that your impartiality might be compromised?[1]  If so, action will need to be taken to rectify this.


Ethical bias

5.6 Threats to a Member’s impartiality might include being asked to act in a way that contravenes a Member’s duties under the Code, other professional requirements or even the law.  Members directly employed by an organisation might face particular pressures to carry out work in a way that is favourable to the commercial interests of that organisation and will need to be careful to avoid misleading regulators, boards or other users.

Technical bias

5.7 When considering the potential for bias, Members need be aware that there are many forms of bias, including ethical and technical bias.  Some examples of bias might include situations where a technical methodology is selected because the Member is familiar with it, even if others are more appropriate (that is not to say that using a technique that can be applied quickly is necessarily wrong; rather that Members need to be clear about the justification for their chosen approach) or where a Member is reluctant to challenge the work of a colleague who is also friend, even though such a challenge would be appropriate.

5.8 Members can mitigate the risk of acting in a way which is biased by being aware of the potential for bias and taking this into account when making decisions or providing advice to ensure they are acting impartially. Being open to appropriate challenge from others and being willing to change or adapt one’s approach can also help to mitigate the risk of acting in a way which is biased, as it is possible to hold a bias and not even be aware of it.

Institutional bias or Group Think

5.9 A further threat to impartiality that Members ought to be aware of is the potential influence of ‘Group Think’ in their decision-making. Group Think is defined as “the tendency for one’s own judgement to be influenced by the apparent consensus view of assumptions, methods, processes or approaches leading to a reduction in the variety of ideas in the market”.[2]

5.10 One of the dangers of Group Think is that it has the potential to result in poor conduct or systematic business failures brought on by working environments in which perspectives are not challenged and people act in the same way as others do without sufficient justification.

5.11 Members can address this risk by being aware of their propensity to participate in Group Think in the first place and by being prepared to challenge or speak up where processes or approaches are not appropriate for the work being carried out.  When making decisions in relation to a piece of work, Members may wish to ask themselves whether, in following the crowd, they are doing so because it is easier (or they are reluctant to challenge the status quo) or because it is appropriate to the work.


Conflicts of interest

See further on Conflicts of Interest


[1] This is the test for bias as set out by Lord Hope in Porter v Magill [2002] 2 AC 357, which states that: “The question is whether the fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts, would conclude that there was a real possibility that the [Tribunal] was biased”.

[2] This is the definition of “Group Think” as set out in the review by the Joint Forum on Actuarial Regulation’ on Group Think - https://www.actuaries.org.uk/documents/jfar-review-group-think

The Review includes guidance for individual actuaries on how to address Group Think.

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Events calendar

  • SIAS Event: CMI Update

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    1 April 2020

    Spaces available

    We are sorry. This event has now been cancelled.

    Following the release of the updated CMI Mortality Projection Model, CMI_2019, the CMI Mortality Projections Committee will lead a discussion on future mortality improvements.

  • Spaces available

    In the webinar, Stuart Hitchcock, Head of Portfolio Management for Private Credit, within LGIM Real Assets, will provide some insight into the nature of the private credit markets. Discussion will evolve around development of the markets and lending landscape, key investment characteristics including structural and legal protections, public vs private investments, advantages and drawbacks for borrowers, and attractiveness for investors.

    The webinar will also focus on describing the investment process such as origination through execution, credit, structure, pricing, on-going asset management, portfolio construction within private markets.

  • Spaces available

    Due to the COVID-19, we will be running this programme via a series of webinars commencing 22 April.  

    CIGI is a well-established one-day seminar designed to increase awareness and encourage discussion on a variety of topical issues across the general insurance industry. 

  • Spaces available

    InsurTech headlines are often big statements, which seem impossible to many working in the sector day-to-day. How can actuaries implement new systems, keep the value from legacy systems, deliver BAU and not require the resources of three teams?

    This talk:

    • Highlights effective strategies to jump the gap to new technologies
    • Illustrates practices that provide contingency for future technical growth 
    • Introduces the concept of “technical debt” and how you can best manage it
  • Spaces available

    Pressure on organisations to address climate change risks is intensifying. But what does this really mean for insurers? In this session Adhiraj Maitra and Gareth Sutcliffe will look at the why, the what and the how of this risk through a number of different lenses including regulatory, principle and resilience.

  • Spaces available

    Update on renewal pricing outcomes for Property and Casualty markets at the latest 1/1 reinsurance renewals.

    The focus will be on capacity availability and price drivers.  These issues include but are not limited to the cat bond market, wider trends in claims outcomes, trends in Casualty RI space that affect pricing such as social inflation, yield curve and the reserving cycle.

    Finally, a note on how this may affect actuarial pricing, reserving and capital.

    Learning objectives: Business knowledge of reinsurance renewal outcomes and the main drivers

  • Spaces available

    The Ogden Discount Rate shock of 2017 brought about a period of profound uncertainty to General Insurance market.  GI Actuaries' first task was to estimate the impact of the Ogden shocks, particularly to reserving and reinsurance pricing.  Their second was to navigate a period of framework uncertainty, maintaining an agility in actuarial modelling as the Civil Liability Bill took shape. 

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (29 April 2020)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    29 April 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (29 April 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    29 April 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • CANCELLED The Global Actuarial Profession

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    30 April 2020

    Spaces available

    We are sorry that this event has been cancelled.

    The IFoA's policy regarding COVID-19 is designed to safeguard the well-being of members and employees. As stated within the policy, the IFoA is reviewing its events programme on a case-by-case basis.

  • Spaces available

    Working party have been producing a number of deep dive papers, these include topics such as risk adjustment, impact of disclosures on how uncertainty is perceived, deferring acquisition costs over renewals, PAA eligibility and more. 

    We will select where to focus the session based on market focus closer to the time. The plan is to do a detailed session with practical examples and considerations rather than a high level educational session. Very happy to discuss further. 

  • SIAS Event: Cyber Insurance

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    4 May 2020

    Spaces available

    The talk will cover:
    • Why cyber security is regarded as the top threat to businesses (Allianz Risk Barometer 2019)
    • What is causing the shift in threat landscape
    • Who is attacking, why, and how we can stop them
    • Customer impressions of cyber security and how you can help them
    • Threats to evaluating insurable losses and responding to claims
    • How cyber insurance policies have evolved, and need to continue to do so
    • Can and should you recover ransoms under cyber insurance?
    • What is the future for cyber risk?

  • KSS event: Technology: A red-eyed Terminator or an actuary’s best friend?

     Hymans Robertson, Exchange Place 1, 1 Semple Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8BL
    4 May 2020

    Spaces available

    Despite long-running concerns that innovation could lead to widespread redundancy, technology has enabled greater productivity, created higher-value jobs and spurred us on to new heights. With artificial intelligence increasingly automating work undertaken by professionals, I look at the prospects for the actuarial profession in the era of unprecedented technological innovation.

  • Finance and Investment Conference 2020

    Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrews Pl, London NW1 4LE
    05-05 May 2020
    Spaces available

    Due to COVID-19, we are running this programme via a series of webinars commencing 5 May.

    The environmental, social and governance (ESG) space is growing rapidly and increasingly moving centre stage. In many cases, it is now an essential part of policy and central to the way stakeholders make decisions for the long term to ensure retention of clients, manage risk better, and ensure more economically efficient and sustainable investment returns.

    ESG factors cover a wide range of areas reflecting how vital consideration of these factors are part of wider systemic risks.

    The IFoA’s policy regarding Coronavirus is designed to safeguard the well being of those who attend IFoA events. Find out more. 

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (19 May 2020)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    19 May 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (19 May 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    19 May 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • CILA 2020

    Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrews Pl, London NW1 4LE
    20 May 2020

    Spaces available

    CILA is aimed at practicing life actuaries from life offices, consulting firms and other employers of actuaries. It will also be of interest to all those who work in, or advise on, the life assurance market in the UK and Europe. The programme this year features a timely mix of hot topics including sessions on:

  • Protection, Health and Care Conference 2020

    The Grand Brighton, 97-99 Kings Rd, Brighton BN1 2FW
    02-03 June 2020
    Spaces available

    The Protection, Health and Care Conference is an annual conference aimed at all insurance professionals with a passion for harnessing insurance risk in their organisations.

  • Spaces available

    How we relate to others at work, whether they are colleagues, clients, prospective clients or other business contacts is key to individual career progression and business performance. People buy people , so considering what we are known for and how to be positively memorable are vital. This session looks at the importance of professional relationships, the psychology of personal image and impact and the three personal impact 'tools' which affect what people say about us when we're not in the room.

  • Mortality and Longevity 2020

    1 Birdcage Walk, Westminster, London SW1H 9JJ
    08-08 June 2020
    Spaces available

    This highly regarded seminar will provide topical and practical updates and discussion on the latest thinking and innovations in mortality and longevity.  The program is designed for life, pensions and health and care actuaries, academics, researchers, underwriters and related practitioners eager to learn about the latest developments in mortality and longevity.  The sessions are designed to be very accessible to a broad range of exp

  • Professional Skills Training - London (10 June 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ       
    10 June 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (17 June 2020)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    17 June 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (18 June 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ   
    18 June 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Pensions Conference 2020

    Renaissance Manchester City Centre Hotel, Blackfriars Street, Manchester,M3 2EQ
    18-19 June 2020
    Spaces available

    Join us as this year’s conference that will focus on topics including  funding and savings, pension law current issues, ESG, the end game and transferring risk, investment issues, data visualisation and data science.

  • IFoA Asia Conference 2020, Kuala Lumpur

    CCEC Nexus, 7, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    24-25 June 2020
    Spaces available

    This event has been postponed. A new date will be announced.

    The IFoA's policy regarding COVID-19 is designed to safeguard the well-being of members and employees. As stated within the policy, the IFoA is reviewing its events programme on a case-by-case basis.

    To this end the IFoA and their strategic partner, the AIR, have taken the decision to postpone this year's Asia Conference. A new date will be announced pending further reviews over the following months.