Around the globe
Reaching new heights in Nepal
An unexpected trip to Nepal last year afforded Donald Macleod, appointed actuary, IFGL, the opportunity to link up with a local actuarial community. Here, he tells us about his adventure.
The Himalayas is a fitting backdrop for a profession that is on the up in Nepal, and it was a delight to spend a day in beautiful Kathmandu with the Actuarial Society of Nepal (ASN).
The ASN was founded in 2019 to assist the burgeoning Nepalese actuarial community. In a country where most actuarial work has traditionally been outsourced to firms in India, it is encouraging that more locals are considering this career. Given the ASN’s fledgling state, it is unsurprising that most of the 60 or so members have less than two years’ experience, but that is countered by their enthusiasm and determination. It was a pleasure to meet so many bright and talented individuals, and I have absolutely no doubt that the profession will flourish in Nepal, given the right help.
Much of the ASN’s corporate governance has been established – committees have been formed and key positions filled, and links with kindred associations are being developed. It cannot be easy establishing a new actuarial society in a country, and huge credit must go to current ASN president Prechhya Mathema, an experienced actuary who moved back to Kathmandu after several years in the UK. Her energy and vision are invaluable but she is also aware of the challenges involved in developing the profession in Nepal. In particular, her role as an actuary for the local regulator means she cannot provide as much support to students and recently qualified actuaries as she would like. The ASN would therefore like to issue a plea – if you are an actuary with the passion, skill and time to help the ASN, perhaps by acting as a mentor, Prechhya and her colleagues would love to hear from you – contact [email protected]
One of the ASN’s immediate ambitions is to become an Associate Member of the International Actuarial Association (IAA); the ultimate goal is to obtain Full Member status. Following my trip, it was tremendous to link up with my friend Ibrahim Muhanna, founder of the Muhanna Foundation, which supports actuaries in areas where the profession is underdeveloped – particularly the Arab world and East Africa. Ibrahim, who is a member of the IAA Education Committee, is keen to discover how best to advance Nepal’s profession. We have since met up with Prechhya to discuss this, and it is fantastic to work together for this cause.
Influencing our profession’s development in a country is an opportunity we are not often afforded. I can only offer personal insights about getting involved, and consider myself fortunate to have spent time with Nepal’s aspiring actuaries. It was a humbling, educational and inspiring experience, and one I would massively encourage – I was quite literally on top of the world.
IFoA volunteer named Actuary of the Year
The Actuarial Post has announced that Amerjit Grewal is its 2022 Actuary of the Year.
Despite her busy day job as deputy chief actuary at AEGIS London, Amerjit has been an active IFoA volunteer for nearly a decade. She currently serves as chair of the General Insurance Pricing Actuaries Considerations Working Party, and is also a member of the General Insurance Practice Board.
The IFoA Executive Team offers its warm congratulations to Amerjit on this achievement, and looks forward to working with her throughout 2023 and beyond.
Volunteering can make a real impact, not only for the IFoA but also for the volunteer. If you are interested in volunteering, do take a look at the volunteer vacancy webpage (bit.ly/IFoA_Volunteers) or email a member of the Engagement Team at [email protected] to find out how you can get involved. We would be delighted to hear from you.
Saida Chakkor wins 2022 Phiatus Award
The Worshipful Company of Actuaries’ (WCA) 2022 Phiatus Award has been presented to Saida Chakkor for her outstanding work with Luton Council of Faiths (LCoF). As a result, LCoF has received a contribution of £5,000 from the WCA charity. On 26 January, Saida was presented with the Phiatus Award silver salver, her name engraved alongside those of previous winners.
Saida works in general insurance in London and is a member of both the IFoA and the Spanish Institute of Actuaries. She was nominated for the award by a colleague at a previous employer, and was completely taken by surprise when she learnt that she had won!
The LCoF has made a huge impact in its local community, winning local, regional and national awards. It has been recognised by visits from government ministers and members of the royal family.
At the ceremony, Saida spoke briefly about the charity, a small local endeavour that has had a huge impact. She was attracted to its activities by the way in which members worked to achieve community harmony; making Luton a Fairtrade Town was just one of the many team projects in which she was involved. In addition, a personal initiative of hers was to become an archery instructor and coach, running six-week courses to make the sport more accessible.
Saida was also part of the charity’s Peace Garden Initiative to help families who had lost loved ones to Covid; the project won one of the ceremonial trees from the Tree of Trees living sculpture outside Buckingham Palace.
A highlight each year for Saida is LCoF’s International Peace Day, during which hundreds of people gather locally to meet and greet at different places of worship, learn about different religions, ask questions and share hospitality. The most important part for her is the buses of schoolchildren who join in, providing the hope that the next generation will promote a more harmonious society.
Each year, the Phiatus Award is presented to an actuary who has made an impressive contribution to charity. It does not recognise just fundraising,but all forms of charitable work and activity. To submit an entry for the 2023 Phiatus Award, email [email protected]
Inspiring the next generation
One morning last summer, Milliman UK principal Jo Buckle (right) caught the bus from her office in the City of London to a secondary school in Tottenham, feeling some trepidation. Encouraged by the IFoA Foundation, she had volunteered to speak on a panel at an event entitled: ‘Why would you NOT study Maths?! A chance to hear about the rocky journeys that often accompany the study of maths, from women who have been there’.
The audience consisted of nearly 100 female students aged 14-15 from schools across London and south-east England, all capable of studying maths post-16 but unsure about whether they wanted to do so. Along with Jo, the panel comprised three other successful women from diverse professional backgrounds.
The aim of the day was to give the students credible examples of the usefulness of maths in working life, and offer role models for pursuing the study of maths.
“It was fantastic to see so many girls enthusiastic about maths A-Level and to be able to give them an idea of the types of careers that would open up for them if they continued their maths studies,” Jo reflected. “I found it really interesting to hear the other speakers and to listen to the questions posed by the students and understand their ideas and aspirations for the future. It was a very rewarding experience and I felt that I had made a real impact on the students’ lives at a key point.”
The organising teacher gave equally positive feedback about the session. “It was amazing to have four such inspirational women presenting their stories to Year 10s with such honesty and dynamism. The role models stayed for lunch and engaged with individual students and groups throughout. A really high impact event! When asked what their students found most inspiring, they said: hearing the role models talk about their trajectories in maths.”
The event was made possible by Founders4Schools, an award-winning charity that is supported by the IFoA Foundation. Its online platform connects young people and educators across the UK with a network of volunteer role models who share their career stories, in order to better inform school students about the world of work.
The IFoA Foundation encourages more actuaries to volunteer as role models and share their career histories. You can help us introduce young people to actuarial careers early in their educational journey, raise aspirations and help to drive diversity in the profession. Interested in sharing your professional journey with students in schools? Find out more by emailing [email protected] or register at founders4schools.org.uk/partners/ifoa-foundation
Running for Rich
Council member and former Pensions Board chair Mark Williams is running a half-marathon on 12 March for his friend Richard; he explains why.
In 2020, as the world was grappling with the onset of the pandemic, my friend Richard’s daughter Mabel was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a type of blood cancer, at just two-and-a-half years old. The treatment was punishing but Mabel got through it, beat the cancer and was able to start school in September 2022.
This difficult chapter should have been enough for Richard and his family but, heartbreakingly, just as Mabel’s treatment was drawing to a close, Richard was diagnosed with a high-grade brain tumour called a glioblastoma. He has had chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but these are not cures.
However, there are other treatments available: Richard has just started cutting-edge immunotherapy treatment in Germany, with the creation of a personalised cancer vaccine.
These vaccines have had incredibly positive results – some people have gone into remission or long-exceeded their initial prognosis – but they cannot be obtained on the NHS or through private health insurance. They are only available in Germany and America, and are very expensive.
I’m running a half marathon to help raise money for Richard’s treatment. If you feel moved to donate, please visit my fundraising page: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/runforrich. Any donation of any amount would be most gratefully appreciated.
Peter William Wright
Peter Wright, who died on 14 October 2022, began his career working for an insurance broker, studying for the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) exams. He became a CII Associate and won its HJ Greening prize for best result in the long-term business unit. This encouraged him to become an actuary and in 1977 he joined Prudential, becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries in 1979.
In the late 1980s, Peter was seconded from Prudential to the Life Assurance and Unit Trust Regulatory Organisation, where his strong sense of right and wrong came to the fore as he tried to get the industry to abandon some of its more questionable practices.
Peter then returned to Prudential, becoming Number 2 in the central actuarial team under chief actuary Peter Nowell.
Peter made a huge contribution to his profession, contributing his expertise in life assurance and general insurance. He had the knowledge, experience, credibility and willingness to get involved, becoming a member of the Life Board and the General Insurance Board for four years, the last two of which he served as chair. He was also on the Institute’s Council from 1996 to 2008, and was its vice-president 2004-06.
His long and consistent service to the profession was recognised by his fellow professionals in 2010, when he was a recipient of the President’s Award.
In the late 1990s, Peter chaired a working party looking at, among other things, proposed changes to reserving methods for certain with-profits contracts. The proposals would have increased the reserves required by many insurance companies. Actuaries working at some of these companies argued strongly against the proposals when they were debated, but they were ultimately implemented by the regulator – once again, Peter had been ahead of the crowd in recognising the need for change.
Peter left Prudential in 1999 and brought his knowledge of regulation and accounting issues, his skills in producing written material and making speeches, and his sense of humour to Tillinghast, becoming a principal there in 2004.
As a consultant, Peter started working as appointed actuary to Countrywide Assured in 2001. After retiring from Tillinghast at the end of 2007, he became a non-executive director to its parent company Chesnara.
Peter was a keen bridge player and played tennis up until last summer. He is survived by Ginny, his wife of 50 years, his son Will, daughter Alice and their families.
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 Johnson, a Fellow who joined in 1973, died aged 71
Roger Eddleston, a Fellow who joined in 1971
Colin Morrison, a Fellow who joined in 1962, died aged 89
Kenneth Hartwell, a Fellow who joined in 1962, died aged 84
Albert Spedding,a Fellow who joined in 1953
Paul Bunzl, a Fellow who joined in 1988, died aged 60