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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Penrose awaited

By the time this issue of The Actuary is with readers we hope that UK life offices and their actuaries will have had ample time to digest the expected 818 pages of Lord Penrose’s long-awaited report on the recent difficulties of Equitable Life. ‘What Lord Hutton did for the BBC, Penrose will do for life offices and their actuaries’ was the fear of more than one senior actuary.

Many were surprised when the Treasury appeared to raise the stakes by referring elements of the report to the Senior Fraud Office for unspecified reasons. Former Equitable chief executive Chris Headdon suggested that this departed from the non-judgemental spirit which had previously characterised Lord Penrose’s work.

Rather as the calm before a great storm, the actuarial profession awaits a dissection of the apparent failings in professional standards and supervision which are alleged to have taken place prior to the adverse House of Lords judgment in Equitable v Hyman. The only certainty is that life will never be the same again.