[Skip to content]

Sign up for our daily newsletter
The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

In the hot seat: Philip Scott

How did you end up where
you are today?
My chosen vocation was to be a
mechanical engineer, but an
early career change found me at
Norwich Union and being introduced
to the actuarial profession.
The 27 years which
followed have enabled me to see
all aspects of life insurance and
fund management.
What was the toughest
challenge of your career/
most challenging achievement
to date?
My toughest professional challenge came in the summer
of 1992 when I was appointed as the finance
director and actuary to the Norwich Union Life Insurance
Society. The summer of 1992 was a period of
financial crisis, culminating with Black Wednesday,
when the UK broke away from the exchange rate
mechanism. This was a baptism of fire from volatile
investment markets and the impact on the financial
strength of life offices.
What is a key strength (and weakness)?
I believe that my key strength is one of pragmatism
and, without doubt, my biggest weakness is written
What good movie have you seen lately?
Along with a lot of people on our planet, my favourite
recent film was Gladiator.
What famous person do you most admire?
From history, the person I most admire is Churchill,
with his extraordinary leadership and oratory skills.
What is the one lesson you would pass on to young
members of the profession?
My one lesson for younger members of the profession
would simply be to get involved. To be involved with
working parties, local societies, professional meetings,
or whatever. Pushing yourself forward is the way to
progress intellectually and professionally.
What will be the most significant issues facing the
actuarial profession in the next decade?
There are considerable challenges facing life actuaries
in the UK and in a number of parts of the world to
bring actuarial practices into the 21st century. We
need to develop and implement new methods of
transparency for customers, and financial accountability
with far better tools for assessing financial strength
and value creation.
Given the significant change which you (and Norwich
Union) have gone through over the past couple of
years, from demutualisation to merger, what advice
do you have for companies planning similar
exercises? What are the key areas that should be
focused on in terms of managing change? Would
there be anything different you would do with
°ª Focus on value creation for both policyholders and
shareholders, as appropriate. If life businesses are
run to create value, then changing ownership structures
can occur smoothly.
°ª When managing change, my number one focus is
on the process being used to manage change. In
particular, project management disciplines and project
management skills are critical.
°ª The only thing that I would do differently would be
to have spent even more time on communication.
What is the key issue facing the insurance industry, in
your view?
The number one issue facing the life industry is keeping
distribution costs within the bounds of acceptability
to the customers who will pay for them.
What was your dream career when you were
I used to dream of being the engineer that would
design the successor to Concorde.
What is the most frequently asked question of you,
and what is your answer?
The question most frequently asked of me, at the present
time, seems to be: ‘What will be the impact of the
one-per-cent world?’ My answer is that this is an artificial
pricing experiment that will lead to radical
change in the defined contribution pensions market,
but that parts of the industry will survive through it
and will provide products to some customers within
that pricing constraint. However, it is artificial, and far
too little attention seems to be placed on how this will
inevitably lead the UK life market to focus on the
better-off customers and effectively increase the social
exclusion for the less well-off.
Where would you most like to go to and why?
My dream is to sail the width of the Pacific ocean. I
love Pacific islands, but I do not know whether I have
the personal capability to sail this vast hostile expanse.
How do you spend your free time?
Most free time is spent involved with sailing, but a little
is spent on being the leader of a ten-year-old ‘mutual’
that makes traditional cider.