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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries


Gordon Vernon Bayley was an outstanding actuary of his generation.

Educated at Abingdon School, he joined the Equitable Life Assurance Society as an actuarial student in 1938. During the war he served in the Royal Artillery and rose to the rank of major. The examinations of the Institute of Actuaries were suspended during some of the war years so it was not until 1946 that he qualified as a fellow. He rejoined the Equitable after the war and was appointed assistant actuary in 1949. In 1954 he moved to Messrs Duncan C Fraser & Company, consulting actuaries where he became a partner. He joined the National Provident Institution (NPI) in 1957 and became its chief executive in 1964 when he was also invited to join the board, at a time when boards were largely dominated by non-executives. Gordon retired from full time work at NPI in 1985, but remained for a number of years as a non-executive director where he continued to give valued advice to his colleagues. In this latter period he took on a number of other directorships, including the chairmanship of Swiss Re (UK).

Gordon wrote a seminal paper on the taxation of annuity business in 1951 for the Students’ Society of the Institute of Actuaries. The Institute recognised the importance of the paper by awarding a prize, for the first time, for a paper presented to its Students’ Society. A second paper to the Institute followed in 1952, written in conjunction with WF Perks, dealing with the relationship between investment and bonus distribution for a life office. His advanced thinking, much of it evident in these papers, shone through in the actions of the life office he came to lead. It was one of the first to allocate differential rates of bonus to pension business by reason of the latter’s favourable taxation treatment and earned the reputation of being the first to coin the phrase ‘terminal bonus’ and to relate it to funds arising from capital profits. Under his stewardship the office enjoyed considerable success in the provision of pensions, particularly to the self-employed.

The Institute always played an important part in his life. He was a member of Council for over 20 years and chaired many committees. From 1974 to 1976 he served as president. He was a contributor to the emergence of the concept of guidance notes and played a major part in early talks with the accountancy profession concerning the relative roles of actuary and auditor of a life assurance company. Often a thought-provoking speaker in debates at Institute meetings, Gordon’s contribution to the profession was recognised in 1985 by the presentation of an Institute Gold Medal (see JIA 113).

He remained active at the Institute until his death, being most recently a vigorous and constructive participant in the History Steering Group charged with producing the history of the Institute and its members.

In the wider business world Gordon served the Life Offices’ Association as chairman of many technical committees and, after being deputy chairman of the association for two years, became chairman in 1969 and 1970. He was a member of the Occupational Pensions Board from 1973 to 1974 and was a member of the committee to review the functioning of financial institutions (Wilson Committee) from 1977 to 1980. In 1976 his contributions were recognised by the award of a CBE.

He was always a most engaging colleague and friend, with the knack of making everyone that he had contact with feel at ease and valued. Those who worked with him will remember two of his office institutions both of which had this quality of inclusiveness: ‘Morning Prayers’ and his round-table with-profits bonus distribution meetings. His professional associates will remember him for his clear mind and his ability to deal with detail without losing sight of the big picture. All of this was delivered with modesty and an unfailingly courteous manner.

Favourite pastimes included music in all its forms, but especially opera, skiing (both on snow and water), and for many years sailing. His swimming and diving (complete with his glasses firmly secured with elastic) were something to behold. A member of the governing body of his old school in Abingdon for many years, he also served as its chairman.

Gordon was a committed family man and devoted grandparent. He and his wife Terry, whom he married in 1945, were a close and mutually supportive couple. There are three children Angela, Susan, and Mark and three grandchildren.