On Wednesday 17 June the Gulf Actuarial Society (GAS) held its first virtual event, with more than 240 delegates in attendance.
This was the first event for more than half the delegates. The events are normally held in Dubai, and there had been plans for one in Riyadh, but COVID-19 lockdowns meant the event was moved online. This was kindly enabled by the Financial Academy of Saudi Arabia (www.fa.org.sa), which supported the invitation and hosted the event.
Cobus Fourie, CRO for American International Group across the Middle East, Africa, Russia and Israel, led the first session: ‘An Actuarial Perspective of an Insurance CRO: A discussion on the role of an insurance company CRO; the ideal skillset for a CRO; the CRO role as a career path for an actuary’. He discussed how technical, management and innovation experience supports the requirements and layered challenges faced by the modern CRO.
Claudia Maldonado, Mercer Financial Services Middle East’s principal and project lead for DEWS (Dubai International Financial Centre [DIFC] Employees Workplace Savings Plan), led the next session, ‘DEWS – a catalyst for change to existing end-of-service regimes in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]’. She covered why the DIFC implemented this change; how DEWS was implemented and the impact on past service accrued; how DEWS compares with other schemes; and whether this change can be replicated.
Ernest Louw, head of banking practice at Lux Actuaries and Consultants in Abu Dhabi, continued with a session titled ‘A customer-level value framework for banks’. His discussion considered a framework that banks could use to identify measures of customer value, as well as some of the practical challenges faced in deriving these. He also looked at a number of case studies.
The final session, ‘Do actuaries need to reinvent themselves in a post-COVID-19 world?’ was led by Colin Dutkiewicz, global head of life at Aon Reinsurance Solutions in London and Chair of the IFoA COVID-19 Action Taskforce. Colin’s discussion highlighted threats to the institutions that actuaries advise, and the challenges to actuarial work in 2020 and beyond. He looked at examples from life and non-life insurance, as well as pensions and investment advising, but also relevant actuarial work on pandemics. Much of his material was generated by the 90 workstreams that the IFoA has developed in response to the pandemic, with input from more than 500 volunteers from 49 countries.
The event and webinar platform received excellent feedback, especially on the diversity of subjects. A lot of participants would like to see shorter, more frequent events focused on non-life insurance, predictive modelling, local regulatory updates and IFRS 17. The GAS Committee is working towards such workshops and seminars through the coming months.
GAS is open to members and non-members of the IFoA, as well as individuals who work in actuarial support roles and have an interest in the profession in the region. It aims to represent the specific interests of actuaries working in or with the Gulf; foster community and provide a support network for its members; organise networking and CPD opportunities; and raise the profile of the profession in the area. If you would like to find out more or volunteer, please contact the GAS Committee at [email protected]