Bletchley Parkand RAF Museum visits
The Worshipful Company of Actuaries (WCA) autumn events focused on technology, in line with the Master’s theme for 2022.
The first event, a visit to wartime codebreaking centre Bletchley Park, took place on 5 October. It started with a guided tour of the main buildings, with information on the site’s purchase by the Ministry of Defence before the Second World War and its key role in UK intelligence gathering.
There is a memorial to the Polish mathematicians who carried out the early work that enabled the decoding of German messages. Over time, Bletchley saw leading mathematicians, including Alan Turing, take this work forwards and crack the messages at scale.
The breadth of intelligence functions at Bletchley Park was vast – the actual codebreaking was just one part of a massive effort to gather and decode messages, catalogue the intelligence and share it with central intelligence (once recoded, of course). It is so full of history, and relevant to our professional skills today.
The second event was a visit to the RAF Museum in Hendon on 28 November. Around 30 members and guests were given a guided tour of the museum, seeing planes such as the Spitfire Mark 1, the Hurricane and the Lancaster ‘S for Sugar’, the first RAF heavy bomber to complete 100 missions
Afternoon tea was then served in the 601 Squadron Room. The WCA has an affiliation with 601 Squadron, which was a famous reservist regiment during the war.
It was subsequently disbanded, but reformed a few years ago when WCA members became involved. Its role now is to advise the RAF on strategic and business-related matters.
Between these two technology-focused events, the WCA took part in the annual Lord Mayor’s Show on 13 November, proudly carrying the Actuaries banner. Other professions were represented, but actuaries led the way, reflecting the fact that we are the first livery company by alphabetical order.
Enterprising Maths in Scotland
November saw the return of the Enterprising Mathematics in Scotland (EMiS) national final for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was funded by the IFoA Foundation and continues the long relationship between EMiS and the IFoA Scottish Board.
Proceedings at the Glasgow Science Centre began with a talk about actuarial careers.
This set high ambitions for the 200-plus third- and fourth-year participants, who came from 52 schools across Scotland.
The teams completed four varied and challenging rounds.
It was a pleasure to see such enthusiasm and energy devoted to mathematics (especially in the relay round!).
Congratulations to all the participating teams and many thanks to the organisers, helpers and teachers for supporting this excellent initiative.
Count Me In
We were delighted to run our first online Count Me In event in December.
Count Me In provides an introduction to actuarial careers, as well as access to employers, for students from groups that are underrepresented in the actuarial profession, as well as their careers advisers. It is a key element of the IFoA’s school and university outreach work in support of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy.
Our acquisition team worked alongside employer partner Aon and our school outreach partners at Success at School to reach more schools and students than ever before. The online event format means that students who could not attend in person can now access a recording of it.
By targeting school students from a variety of backgrounds, including schools in lower socio-economic areas, we achieved 1,010 sign-ups and 270 attendees. Event data indicates that we were successful in reaching our target groups, with 53% of attendees being from ethnic minority backgrounds (compared with the national average of 15%), and 8% of attendees being eligible for free school meals.
We received great feedback from attendees: 96% rated the webinar as ‘good’, ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’; 92% said the event helped them understand more about actuarial opportunities; and 89% said it helped them understand more about the application process.
We would like to thank everyone who took part, including IFoA representative Sonal Shah, Aon’s Phil Sartain, Emma Rogers, Henry Hill and Esther Barnard, who took part in the panel discussion and Q&A, and Mitesh Bhimjiyani, our Success at School host.
We want to build on this success and run more school engagement events throughout the year. If you would like to be involved, either as an employer partner or as a Career Ambassador, please contact [email protected]
You can view a recording of the Count Me In event at youtu.be/gg5VCZmhVLk
Celebrating an actuarial pioneer
On 23 February 2023, it will be the 300th anniversary of the birth of Richard Price, a dominant figure in actuarial history. A dissenting minister by vocation and a proponent of religious freedoms, civil rights and political reform, the Welshman supported American Independence, corresponding with the founding fathers of the US; he also championed the early progress of the French Revolution.
After publishing papers for the Royal Society in 1763 that communicated his late friend Thomas Bayes’s theorem of statistical inference, Price started writing about annuities and other financial schemes, advising the Society for Equitable Assurances, contributing calculations for the nearly legislated work pensions for old age, and even sharing proposals for managing national debt. He also engaged directly with the first pre-profession actuaries, recommending his nephew William Morgan for the position of actuary for Equitable. Through his guidance, Price shaped the modern actuarial role and set an enduring template for our practice in sustaining life assurance enterprise.
Wider commemorations of this influential 18th-century Enlightenment figure are expected around the anniversary of his birth date. English Heritage will be installing a blue plaque where Price once lived in Newington Green, London, and the Richard Price Society (richardpricesociety.org.uk) and Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (cymmrodorion.org) websites also provide more information on Price’s life and legacy.
This July will mark 175 years since the formation in 1848 of the Institute of Actuaries, the first association of members of this profession. As on its centenary, 125th and 150th-year celebrations, the IFoA will see this anniversary as an occasion to look forward in its development.
Professor James Gray OBE
James Robertson Gray, known to his friends and colleagues as Jimmy, died on 24 October 2022 at the age of 96.
After his secondary education at the High School of Dundee, Gray became an undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh. In 1947 he was awarded a
BSc degree with honours in mathematics, and in the following year, he achieved the university’s diploma in actuarial mathematics.
Gray worked for the Scottish Life Assurance Company during his first two years as an actuarial student. In 1949 he joined the academic staff of the University of St Andrews as a lecturer, initially in mathematics and subsequently in statistics. In 1962 he was promoted to senior lecturer in statistics.
In 1971 he resigned from his appointment as head of the university’s Department of Statistics and moved to Heriot-Watt University to take up the new chair of Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics – the first such chair in a British university.
In 1972, Heriot-Watt established its Department of Actuarial Mathematics and statistics, the first university department of this kind in the UK. Gray was head of the department until he retired in 1989.
Gray became a Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries in 1955, and was instrumental in creating strong links between his department and both the Faculty and the Institute of Actuaries. He gave considerable service to the profession as a member of Faculty Council for 16 years, serving as honorary librarian from 1971 to 1980, as honorary secretary from 1980 to 1983, and as a vice president from 1983 to 1987.
Gray was appointed an OBE for his contributions to the profession. He was also the author of Probability, which appeared in 1967 as one of the celebrated University Mathematical Texts published by Oliver and Boyd.
Manchester-based actuaries Gary Mayall (PwC) and Alexandra Wood (Buck) recently got engaged at the top of Table Mountain while holidaying in South Africa. Congratulations to Gary and Alex, who are now looking into potential wedding venues and dates for 2024.
Michael Willett, who died on 18 November 2022, had been a Fellow of the IFoA since the 1950s.After attending Loughborough Grammar School, Michael started his actuarial career with Eagle Star before joining Britannic Assurance in 1953. He qualified in 1963 and was appointed deputy actuary in 1967, before becoming actuary for the Britannic in 1972 at the age of 37. He was made a director of the company before being appointed chairman in 1986.
When Michael retired in 1997, he was appointed non-executive director for Cologne Reinsurance Company Ltd, as well as being made a board member forthe Methodist Insurance & Pension Trust.
Michael was an active member of the Methodist Church in Solihull, becoming its treasurer and chief steward. He also spent much of his retirement travelling, often visiting family in Canada and Malaysia.
Michael is survived by his wife Valerie, who was by his side for more than 64 years, along with four children, ninegrandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
It is with great regret that we announce the death of the following members. We offer our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.
David Aldrich, a Fellow who joined in 1971
Sir John Banham, an Honorary Fellow who joined in 2004, died aged 81
David Begg, a Fellow who joined in 1971
Wilbert Davies, a Fellow who joined in 1953
Brian Dejean, a Fellow who joined in 1951, died aged 88
Ian Duncan, a Fellow who joined in 1967, died aged 83
David Hoskin, a Fellow who joined in 1967, died aged 86
Robert Howie, a Fellow who joined in 1994, died aged 48
Kenneth Matthews, a Fellow who joined in 1974, died aged 91
Richard Penn, a Fellow who joined in 1994, died aged 49