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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Preview: Pensions conference 2010

Chairman’s preview
Can you recall a time when the pensions landscape stood still? A time of enduring assumptions and simplistic models? A time when the ‘pensions promise’ was just that, while ‘weekly technical updates’ had yet to be invented? Perhaps not.

After reflecting on the ever-shifting pensions landscape, we chose the theme of constant change for the Pensions conference 2010. Change is all around us — in the economy, in legislation and even in the theory upon which we base our assumptions about how long pension scheme members will live.

Like the view from a fairground roundabout, the world of pensions is always changing. When history repeats itself we may even re-adopt some of our former models. Not that we go round in circles; our world evolves as it revolves, while actuaries grow ever sharper. We refine our advice and ably rise to the challenge of constant change.

This year’s conference events are focused around change. As well as reviewing the changes we now face and the changes we must make, speakers will explore how actuaries can influence and manage both the changes that are presented to us and those changes that we choose to create ourselves.

Plenary sessions
>> Professor Avinash Persaud, chairman of Intelligence Capital, and the Evening Standard’s Anthony Hilton will open with their views on the evolution of financial regulation in the wake of the economic crisis and the implications for UK pensions.

Professor Persaud — adviser to governments around the world on the reform of financial regulation — recently won second place in Prospect magazine’s Top 25 Brains of the Financial Crisis, ahead of such respected figures as 2008 Economics Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman. Hilton, who is a regular award-winner as a leading financial journalist, was most recently named as the ABI’s Commentator of the Year in 2009.

>> Trevor Llanwarne, the government actuary, and June Mulroy, the Pensions Regulator’s executive director of business delivery, will provide an insight from their own experiences of influencing change and seeing that change evolve over time.

>> Jim Boyle from the Actuarial Profession’s Professional Awareness Committee and Robert Inglis from the Board for Actuarial Standards (BAS) will update us respectively on the implications of the Actuaries’ Code and the new BAS Standards.

>> In an interactive session chaired by Deborah Cooper from Mercer, Aon’s Donald Duval, together with Andrew Claringbold and Simon Martin, will use role play and case studies to outline difficult areas for the advising actuary.

Workshop topics
There will be numerous workshops discussing the changing environment in which we find ourselves today, covering a multitude of practical topics ranging from governance to the Profession’s disciplinary scheme. The implication of new regulations and case law along with the implementation of the pensions Technical Actuarial Standard and other BAS Standards is also well covered by the agenda, along with innovative ways to fund schemes and a session on rethinking the discount rate. There will be a workshop on personal accounts and even climate change will get a mention, focusing on concrete impacts and the actuary’s role.

Then there will be a discussion of those pensions papers that help actuaries to understand challenges they face, and useful sessions on managing the route to buy-out, business awareness, mortality hedging and how to help trustees understand longevity risk. There will also be workshops focusing on what it is that trustees and finance directors desire from their actuary in terms of the advice that they require and the extent of the assistance that actuaries can give.

Hot topics
Last year’s successful ‘hot topics’ session is included again this year. Each of the ‘hot topics’ presenters will be given a few minutes to promote their session to the assembled delegates.

Learning in a more relaxed environment
‘Softer’ skills have not been sidelined. The first evening begins with a pre-dinner session by leading communications consultant, Mark Perl, on how to become a confident and effective networker. On the second night, author Octavius Black will speak on how to use the mind more effectively.

Although we continue to expect constant change, we can also try to enjoy the changes that challenge us in the revolving (and evolving) world of pensions. This year’s conference should help to equip us to do so.

Siân Barr is chairman of the Pensions conference 2010 organising committee


For more details and the full programme for the Pensions conference 2010, visit http://pensions.actuarialevents.com/