Heriot-Watt student conference a success
Heriot-Watt University's very own Students' Actuarial Society (SAS) held its annual conference on Wednesday 12th February. An important event in the semester for many actuarial students, the SAS Conference is a unique opportunity for those who wish to gain an insight into the field of actuarial work. It is regularly attended by students, but by qualified actuaries working in the industry and prominent academics. A key part of the Conference is the wide range of informative talks delivered by various distinguished speakers with specialist knowledge in their chosen areas of expertise.
The theme of this year's conference was 'Resistance' aptly referring to the numerous new challenges faced by the modern actuary. The director of the conference, Reshan Sivasamy, politely introduced each of the speakers, providing succinct information on each of their backgrounds. The vice-president of SAS, Ben Bailey-Conlon, officially began the conference with his opening speech describing SAS to the audience whilst reflecting on the wide range of successful events and social activities organised by the society throughout the year.
Kris Hristakev, an actuarial analyst working as part of the Admin Re Solvency II project, then gave a 20 minute presentation on Solvency II. The presentation provided concise information about Solvency II complete with helpful diagrams and important technical details describing how the issue is currently being treated by large actuarial firms and regulators. Dr. Gordon Woo, a top graduate of Cambridge University currently working as a mathematician at RMS, was up next with a talk entitled 'A medical science based approach to longevity models'. The presentation touched on issues including the rising resistance of antibiotics, the progress being made in geroscience and the intriguing randomness of important medical discoveries throughout history.
After a break in the conference, during which students had the opportunity to chat with the speakers and other guests, John Gordon of Punter Southall (a graduate of Heriot Watt University) gave a presentation on the switch from defined benefit pension plans to defined contributions pension plans by firms in general. The talk carefully distinguished between the two pension plans and highlighted the advantages and disadvantages businesses and consumers are exposed to with each plan. The final speaker invited to talk this year, Andrew Smith - a senior partner at Deloitte - discussed the 'Consequences of choosing the wrong model". In particular, the speech emphasised the problems huge financial companies face when designing and interpreting their statistical models, and how this can go devastatingly wrong.
To round things off, the president of SAS, Dean Robinson, gave a closing speech which included thanks to the speakers and the audience for attending. There were over 100 students at the conference this year, marking the continued success the event has in generating interest from students. Overall, it was another very successful, well planned and executed conference.