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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

  • KSS event – GAD: the 100 year life (Glasgow)

    Barnett Waddingham 163 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 2JJ
    24 October 2019

    Spaces available

    The Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) marks its centenary this year. George Russell, formerly Deputy Government Actuary, who currently heads up GAD’s Edinburgh office, leading on GAD support to the devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland, will outline GAD’s development over that period and its range of work today. Having just “celebrated” his 25th anniversary of joining GAD, George will also reflect on some of the challenges and opportunities of advising at the interface of the actuarial and the political worlds.

  • Sessional Meeting - Autonomous Vehicles and impacts on the wider insurance industry

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    28 October 2019

    Spaces available

    The Sessional Meeting is now fully booked.

    Please click here to register on the waiting list.

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries is running a sessional meeting on autonomous vehicles on 28th October.  The session will showcase the work of the IFoA “Autonomous Vehicles” working party alongside a number of expert external presenters. 

  • ARC Event: Beyond Proportional Hazards

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    30 October 2019

    Spaces available

    ARC Event: Beyond Proportional Hazards: Statistical methods for assessment of the impact of medical advances and health interventions on longevity and population projections.

    This workshop is being delivered by the Actuarial Research Centre’s (ARC) ‘Big Health and Actuarial Data’ Research Programme.

  • Joint IFoA/SAS Cyber Risk Presentation and Roundtable Discussion, Singapore

    Peach Garden, OCBC Centre, Level 33 (access via West Lobby), 65 Chulia Street, Singapore 049513
    31 October 2019

    Spaces available

    Organised by IFoA GI Asia International Working Group and SAS Emerging Risk Working Group, this session titled "Addressing Cyber Risks Portfolio Accumulation and Methodologies to Qualify and Quantify Losses" is aimed at raising cyber awareness within the actuarial community, encouraging discussion and collaboration to address new challenges from this emerging frontier.

    Speakers: Peter Hacker, International Cyber Security Expert and Thought Leader

  • Hot Topics in Health and Care: Networking and Drinks

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, London WC1V 6DR
    4 November 2019

    Spaces available

    This evening will feature two new cases studies that highlight the implications for insurers of issues impacting on health and mortality for life, pensions, and health and care products; Impactability modelling: a worked example in Type II diabetes presented by Josephine Robertson, and Seasonal Mortality in England and Wales 1993-2016 presented by Mary Hall, Dublin City University.

  • SIAS Event: Introduction to the Mortality Research Steering Committee (MRSC)

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    5 November 2019

    Spaces available

    The MRSC is responsible for guiding the profession’s research in the areas of longevity, mortality and morbidity such that it is recognised as a thought leader in this area. It has recently been reviewing what the priorities and have identified 6 areas that we believe are the most important areas of research that should be the current focus and these are:

  • Spaces available

    On behalf of the International Actuarial Association’s (IAA) Banking Working Group, the Actuarial Society of South Africa’s (ASSA) Banking Committee and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) Banking Member Interest Group, you are invited to participate in the upcoming webinar entitled Career opportunities in Banking: Retail and Group Risk.

    The actuarial profession has much to offer the world of banking. In this second webinar on opportunities for actuaries in banking, we have three actuaries sharing their experiences:

  • IFoA CPD Co-ordinators' Briefing

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7QJ
    7 November 2019

    Spaces available

    The theme of this year’s annual briefing is: Lifelong Learning – providing continuous development for our members.

    This event is primarily for volunteer CPD Co-ordinators, who attend to represent their organisation. CPD Co-ordinators play a key role in effective engagement between organisations who employ our members and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFOA).

  • The challenges for AI in Autonomous driving – Professor Andrew Blake

    Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 11 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JQ
    11 November 2019

    Spaces available

    In conjunction with the Scottish Board and supporting the IFoA’s focus on data science.

    The IFoA’s Scottish Board have arranged for UK pioneer in Computer Vision and Machine Intelligence, Professor Andrew Blake to speak to delegates on the subject of AI in Autonomous driving. This lecture will focus on safety-critical operation and the computation of risk.  

  • Autumn Pension Seminar

    Grand Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen St, Holborn, London WC2B 5DA
    13 November 2019

    Spaces available

    Join us for this brand new seminar that brings together our Current Issues in Pensions, Pensions and the Law, and Investment for Pension Actuaries events. The seminar builds on the IFoA’s Annual Pension Conference with sessions covering CDC, TPR’s code of practice, investments, legal updates and Professional Skills Training with a focus on interactive discussion throughout.

  • KSS event: How is Scotland’s population changing and what are the implications?

    Barnett Waddingham, 163 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 2JJ
    14 November 2019

    Spaces available

    The National Records of Scotland (NRS) collects, preserves and produces information about Scotland's people and history to inform current and future generations - work that underpins the fabric of Scottish society and tells the story of our nation. This KSS talk will explore the following and other areas impacting Scotland’s changing population, and assess the potential implications of the changes:

    • population statistics
    • life expectancy
    • changes in age structure
    • birth and death rates, including causes of death statistics.
  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (14 November 19)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    14 November 2019

    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.

  • Life Conference 2019

    The Convention Centre Dublin, Spencer Dock, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1
    20-22 November 2019
    Spaces available

    The Life Conference is the premier event for professionals interested in life insurance.  Offering a wide range of workshops and plenary sessions it’s the perfect opportunity to discover what’s hot and current in life insurance ensuring you get up to date on the latest thinking and innovation whilst meeting and exchanging ideas with a broad range of professionals.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (20 November 2019)

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7Q
    20 November 2019

    Spaces available

    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.

  • ARC Workshop: Modelling Socio-Economic Differences in English Mortality

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    2 December 2019

    Spaces available

    Purpose
    The workshop will give participants detailed insights into how a large and detailed dataset can be used to assess levels of mortality inequality in England, using a number of novel statistical methods. We will also address the question: are regional variations in mortality real or imaginary?

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (3 December 19)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    3 December 2019

    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.

  • SIAS Event: Discount Rates are Flawed

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    3 December 2019

    Spaces available

    This talk will be given by Jon Spain who, as far back as 1983, has been working independently, trying to bring “long-term” back to UK actuarial thinking. His current focus is on discount rates (see discrate.com).

  • A Holistic Study into Cash flow Driven Investment

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6DR, UK
    4 December 2019

    Spaces available

    Given that Cashflow Driven Investment strategy has attracted growing interests from pension funds and insurers at the backdrop of current market conditions and clients’ circumstances, the objective of this event is to gather thought leaders from asset managers, banks and insurers to offer attendees their perspectives and insights on main aspects of consideration when adopting this strategy.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (10 December 2019)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ  
    10 December 2019

    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.

  • SIAS Event: My Journey to Data Science, Big Data and AI

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    7 January 2020

    Spaces available

    Patrick Lee is an actuary who has made the transition to working in software architecture and artificial intelligence (AI). He holds Microsoft Professional qualifications in Data Science, Big Data and AI and is currently working towards a DevOps (the automation of software testing and deployment) qualification. He is a member of the IFoA Council and is also President of the Wessex Actuarial Society. He is also a member of the IFoA and the RSS's joint Data Science Focus Group and will talk on the ethical use of AI. 

  • Behavioural Finance Research Launch- 14 January 2020

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6DR
    14 January 2020

    Fully booked.

    We are delighted to announce the launch of the findings from our ARC funded Behavioural Finance research with a special evening event at Staple Inn on Tuesday 14th January 2020. Entitled Behavioural Aspects of Institutional Investment Decision-Making, this research programme is being delivered by City, University of London, Leeds University Business School and Ipsos.

    This event is now full. Please register for the waiting list.

  • IFoA Volunteer Recognition Reception

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6DR, UK
    15 January 2020

    Spaces available

    As a thank you to all our Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) volunteers, you are invited to join us at Staple Inn Hall, for an evening of drinks, canapes and networking, in London.

    IFoA President, John Taylor, will be attending and will make a speech

    If you support the IFoA as a volunteer (member or non-member), or in any other role, and you are going to be in London on 15 January, please book your place and join us at this reception.

     

  • Professional Skills Training - London (16 January 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ
    16 January 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 (23 January 2020)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    23 January 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 (11 February 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    11 February 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.

  • Sessional: Impact of E-cigarettes Working Party

    Royal College of Physicians, 9 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    24 February 2020

    Spaces available

    This sessional meeting will be of direct interest to actuaries and others working in the in the Health and Care, Life or Pensions sectors or indeed actuaries with an interest in morbidity or mortality.

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (25 February 2020)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    25 February 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.

  • 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

    The sixth annual Asia Conference once again offers a prestigious line-up of home and international speakers discussing the insurance and financial industry’s innovation and change in Asia. This year's conference in Kuala Lumpur will be hosted by Tan Suee Chieh, IFoA’s first Asian President. He will also make his Presidential address at this conference and will expand on the important elements of IFoA’s new strategy. 

    Additionally, this landmark conference will showcase how the IFoA is reinventing itself to support its members to succeed and thrive in a digital age, within traditional businesses and beyond, as a global organisation. 

    No tot be missed by international industry players, opinion formers, academic and industry leaders, actuaries and non-actuaries.