The International Actuarial Association (IAA) held its Council and Committee meetings in Cape Town, South Africa from 18-21 November at the invitation of the Actuarial Society of South Africa, one of its 69 Full Member associations.
An important aspect of these meetings included the keynote addresses by two distinguished leaders in the financial community, Dr. Michael Jordaan, former CEO of First National Bank (FNB) and Emile Stipp, Chief Actuary at Discovery Health.
During the lunch on November 19, Dr. Jordaan highlighted the important impact of the actuarial profession in South Africa on the banking industry, a sector in which 25% of all new actuaries work. He encouraged other countries to embrace the role that actuaries can play to oversee all types of risks associated in the banking industry. Furthermore, Michael illustrated how digital disruptors have affected many traditional industries, including financial services. He urged the actuarial profession to not be complacent and strive to broaden its horizon into other areas where the actuarial skillset can be utilized in conjunction with the digitisation of data.
At the Presidents’ Forum, Mr. Stipp discussed the rollout of a wellness and big data project, across 15 markets and 4 million clients worldwide. In his presentation, Emile shared the behavioral impacts, as well as mortality and morbidity improvements observed. He noted the complexity of large-scale big data projects, along with the technology, tools and skills required to analyze the vast amount of data obtained. Emile noted the importance of multi-disciplinary teams, including actuaries and data scientists to help understand, curate, analyze and interpret the data.
The IAA has recently established two new working groups, on banking and big data. The Banking Working Group is chaired by Michael Tichareva from South Africa and the Big Data Working Group is chaired by Esko Kivisaari from Finland. Both working groups held their first official meetings in Cape Town.
This collaboration with other industry leaders supports several of the IAA’s strategic objectives including expanding the scientific knowledge and skills of the actuarial profession beyond the traditional areas of actuarial practice, providing a forum for discussion of global issues among actuaries and actuarial associations throughout the world, and improving recognition of the actuarial profession among other professionals and academics.