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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

GIRO 2005

T he GIRO Convention, the place to be seen for all actuaries working in general insurance, took place in Blackpool this year from 18 to 21 October, where we were provided with typical British seaside weather for the duration of the conference. This was the 32nd GIRO Convention and, as usual, the conference was extremely popular, with over 400 delegates attending the conference and a further waiting list of people keen to attend should anyone drop out.
GIRO 2005 kicked off with an informal buffet reception. This gave everyone a good opportunity to catch up with familiar faces and to browse the GIRO exhibition. The exhibition has become a welcome addition to GIRO in recent years, giving competitive actuaries plenty of opportunity to show off their skills and possibly win a prize. Games to try this year included golf, air hockey, motor racing, multi-track Scalextric, and a James Bond shooting competition. For the less competitive among us, there was also a palm-reader and a chocolate fountain to enjoy.

Throughout the two-and-a-half-day conference, there were a large number of both plenary sessions and workshops, which together covered a wide range of topics of interest to actuaries working in general insurance. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the conference and, in particular, younger members were encouraged to speak in the plenary sessions by tempting them with the possibility of winning an iPod. I’m not sure exactly what the definition of a younger member is, but I am slowly coming to the realisation that it no longer includes me!
The first session of the conference was on Wednesday morning, which included a stimulating and sometimes controversial talk by Shirley Beglinger on the ‘Regulation of the non-life insurance industry’. Other guest speakers on Wednesday morning were David Paul from BUPA and Richard Tamayo from NHBC, who both talked about how the ICA process had worked in practice for their companies. Wednesday morning also included presentations from two working parties the Application of Strategic Models to Non-Life Insurance Markets Working Party and the ICA Guidance Note Working Party.
The plenary session on Wednesday afternoon began with a talk on the financial risks of climate change one of the increasingly hot topics in our industry [see article on p38”, particularly given the number of weather-related catastrophes that have occurred recently. This interesting presentation was given by Dr Sebastian Catovsky of the ABI. An update on Solvency II followed.

Mushy peas and the Big One
The first evening’s entertainment, as usual for GIRO, consisted of something for which the conference location is particularly renowned. It started with a coach to the pleasure beach, where delegates had the option of enjoying the Big One or one of the other rather more sedate rides. After this, we all headed to the Paradise Room at the pleasure beach to enjoy a typical fish and chip supper with mushy peas included and not a plate in sight! Those actuaries with the stamina (which did not ‰‰

‰ include me) then headed on to Club GIRO. Unfortunately there are no photos of this event, although I’ve been told that some of the dance moves were extremely unusual, even for actuaries.
Thursday morning began with a plenary session covering two topics an update from GRIP and a presentation from the Maths Toolkit for Actuaries Working Party. GRIP stands for General insurance premium Rating Issues working Party as you may have guessed, I think the catchy acronym must have come first. GRIP (the younger sister of GRIT) has been given the task by the General Insurance Board to look into a number of issues around premium rating in general insurance including the role of the pricing actuary, the methods used, and professional guidance in this area.

What is blogging?
If you don’t know what a wiki, blogging, RSS Feeds, or R are then the second session of the morning would have been the session for you an extremely informative and enlightening talk. Hopefully the authors will achieve their aim of widening the target audience for their ‘Maths Toolkit for Actuaries’ to actuaries in all practice areas.
The later plenary sessions on Thursday included a presentation on the Courts Act by Andrew Parker of Beachcroft Wansbroughs and updates from the Effect of the Courts Act Working Party, the General Insurance Board, and the General Insurance Guidance Notes Working Party. The update from the General Insurance Board, given by the chairman of the board, Derek Newton, gave a very straightforward summary of who is on the board, what they look like, and what they do. The final update from members of the General Insurance Guidance Notes Working Party set out the proposed changes to the general insurance guidance notes, which includes a proposed new ‘Principles and Practice’ guidance note which is ‘always on’.
Throughout the conference, the plenary sessions were interspersed with smaller workshops, run by a combination of working parties and individuals. Over 40 workshops were run throughout the conference, covering a diverse range of topics including ICAs, reserving uncertainty, pricing issues, claims inflation, Lloyd’s, Irish issues, schemes of arrangement, regulatory issues, and strategic modelling. The number of workshops offered and the wide range of topics covered shows the dedication of the general insurance actuarial community to helping make GIRO the success that it is.

Gala dinner
Thursday night’s entertainment consisted of a black and white conference dinner, where everyone was encouraged to wear either black or white or a combination of both. Some people were clearly well prepared for this for others it consisted of wearing what they could find in their wardrobe on the night before leaving for GIRO when they finally got round to reading their joining instructions and realised a little bit too late that the helpfully ambiguous smart casual dress code had been changed for the gala dinner this year. The dress code added an interesting element to this year’s dinner although I was a bit disappointed that no one decided to come as a stormtrooper or a penguin.
During the gala dinner the presentation of this year’s lifetime achievement award for contributions to GIRO was made this year to Peter Hinton. The dinner then concluded with the very funny and entertaining comedian, Adrian Walsh, after which everyone headed to the hotel bar which was clearly not designed for quite so many people!
For those who made it to the last morning of the conference, there were two plenary sessions. The first included an update from GRIT (General insurance Reserving Issues Taskforce) and an update from the Estimating Reserve Uncertainty Working Party. The update from GRIT at this plenary session was in addition to a number of workshops also held on this topic. Together, they enabled GRIT to receive a large amount of feedback from practitioners who would be affected by the proposals put forward by GRIT in its July consultation paper.
The final plenary session of the conference included a brief update on IAS and a feedback session on the future strategy of the profession, hosted by the president of the Institute of Actuaries, Michael Pomery. This feedback session naturally resulted in a large number of contributions from delegates and could have lasted for much longer than the allocated time. The comments from the floor seemed to concentrate on three main areas: the desirability of the current cross-subsidy which supports the compliance activities of the profession, the possibility of having university-only provision of the core technical subjects, and whether the profession should try to expand its overseas membership. This resulted in a very interesting session which hopefully provided the profession with some useful feedback from some of the actuaries who work in general insurance.

The conference concluded with the usual thank-yous and awarding of prizes. Dawn McIntosh, the Institute of Actuaries staff member who has been responsible for organising GIRO and who will no longer be involved in the conference, was thanked for the excellent work she has done working with, and hassling of, the GIRO Organising Committee.
The Brian Hey prize was awarded to the members of the working party, chaired by Anthony Williams, that produced the paper entitled ‘Periodical payments and the Courts Act’. Brian Hey was a senior and respected UK actuary who worked in general insurance, whose family and employer donated funds on his death to further actuarial research. The annual prize of £1,000, awarded at GIRO to the paper with the most practical application, was established in 1998. Various other prizes were also handed out, including the prizes for the actuarial prediction survey and, of course, the iPod.
During the conference, initial meetings for the GIRO 2006 working parties were held. Hopefully these working parties will soon be fully up and running so that next year’s GIRO Convention, due to be held in Vienna from 24 to 27 October, will be just as successful.