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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Testing times

The first quarter of 2011 is behind us and, while year-end financial reporting has gone into hibernation, actuarial students are ‘all hands to the pump’ for the upcoming exam season. It has been an eventful quarter with severe natural disasters in Queensland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The loss of lives has been incredibly humbling but I am once again heartened to see the solidarity of fellow human beings in these situations, despite political unrest stealing the headlines elsewhere in the world.

In the realm of insurance, the results from the fifth Solvency II quantitative impact study emerged, indicating a near 70% participation rate by European insurers. It appears that the industry remains sufficiently well capitalised and that, currently, only 15% of insurers would fail to meet the minimum requirements.

Insurers were also getting to grips with the gender discrimination ruling from the European Court of Justice, which could also signal changes for the pensions world at a later date. Meanwhile, Lord Hutton’s plans to move public sector pensions from a final salary to a career-average basis were generally well received by the industry, if not by the trade unions. In the wider economy, the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and the Bank of England kept interest rates unchanged in March, but there is ongoing speculation about how long that will continue.

In Profession news, the Council is leading a review of the strategy for the UK Actuarial Profession and will be organising various ways for members to contribute to the strategy development over the next few months — visit www.actuaries.org.uk to stay informed.

We continue to seek your input on the content you would like to read about in our new technology column and on other pages. We also welcome your views in the form of letters to the editor, which I am reminded are among the most interesting missives in a professional publication.

Finally, the editorial team would like to give its thanks to James Monk who steps down from the features team this month.

Marjorie Ngwenya