OBITUARY Hugh Scurfield
Hugh Scurfield (1935-2020) was general manager and appointed actuary at Norwich Union (now part of Aviva) where he spent his whole career. He was president of the Institute of Actuaries from 1990 to 1992.
He went to King’s School, Worcester and claimed to have studied maths and rowing at Hertford College, Oxford. He rowed for the country in 1959. Hugh was one of the pioneers of the work of actuaries in general insurance in the 1960s and 1970s. Actuarial practice in this area was well-established in North America, with its own professional body, the Casualty Actuarial Society, but the same was not yet true in the UK. Hugh worked with other actuaries, such as Peter Johnson and Brian Hey, on making inroads for our profession, particularly in motor insurance in the wake of the notable insolvency of one insurer, Vehicle and General.
In 1974, Hugh and Terry Clarke, who then worked in his team, brought together 34 actuaries in Norwich for a seminar on issues in general insurance, which developed into a regular annual meeting of the General Insurance Study Group, later renamed GIRO (General Insurance Research Organisation). This paved the way for the insertion of general insurance into the exam syllabus and the expansion of the role of actuaries, both in insurance companies and in Lloyd’s.
Hugh’s time as president saw some of the early steps towards bringing the Faculty and the Institute closer together, with a joint meeting of the two Councils. This culminated in the development from 1993 of the joint set of exams first set for both Faculty and Institute students the following year. The issues were far more than technical and came down to issues of mutual trust between the two professional bodies. To my eyes, that trust appeared to have been firmly established when I attended the second joint Council meeting, which cemented the arrangements.
Hugh strongly believed in the mutual insurer model and his view that life mutuals run by actuaries tend to have the best results. In 1990, the European single market and the mutual professional recognitions and unified approach to regulation were still under development, and Hugh spent some of his time as president working to lobby for the UK approach to life insurance regulation and the ability to sell insurance across the continent.
However, he was critical of the form and manner of product information supplied to consumers, and publicly challenged the level of surrender values that with-profit life offices were delivering on lapsing policies.
Hugh had a large family, with four of his own children and four stepchildren. All eight, together with his wife Jill, attended his presidential address, in which he embarked on his theme of a ‘proactive profession’ – the phrase that echoed through his time in office.
After retirement, Hugh continued his passion for the hospice movement, which he strongly supported – even presenting a talk on the subject in 2002 at the Ageing Population conference promoted by the profession in Edinburgh.
WRITTEN BY PETER TOMPKINS, WITH THANKS TO DAVID RAYMONT, IFOA LIBRARIAN
OBITUARY Stewart Lyon
Stewart Lyon (1926-2021), past president of the Institute of Actuaries (1982- 1984) and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, was a man with a wide range of interests, serving the profession in many ways and pursuing his passion for Anglo-Saxon coinage, of which he was one of the leading experts.
Stewart Lyon was born in Liverpool and, after education at Liverpool College and Trinity College, Cambridge, worked in an insurance company in Liverpool, qualifying as an actuary in 1954. He then joined the developing pensions department of Legal & General, where he was to spend the bulk of his career. He served the profession as a tutor, on the SIAS (then Students’ Society) committee and in roles on committees of the profession, becoming president in 1982. His pensions experience led him to be nominated as a member of the government’s relatively new Occupational Pensions Board (the predecessor to today’s regulator), and he served on a government inquiry into Provision for Retirement, established in 1983. He delivered many papers on pensions, including the sessional paper ‘Social Security and Occupational Pension Schemes’ to the Faculty in 1967 and his own Institute presidential address ‘The Outlook for Pensioning’ in October 1982. Widening the field, in 1988 he presented an Institute sessional paper entitled ‘The Financial Management of a With-Profit Long Term Fund – Some Questions of Disclosure’.
He rose to be finance director and chief actuary of Legal & General and was the first president to come from that firm. After retirement, he held several non-executive directorships in the life insurance and regulatory arena.
He was one of very few actuaries to be awarded a Gold Medal by the Institute Council. This was presented to him in 1991 by the then president, the late Hugh Scurfield, in recognition of his pre-eminent work in many areas of the profession. When he presented the medal, Hugh noted that Stewart had negotiated with Richard Crossman during the Labour government’s development of the state pension system, with an especial focus on private pension scheme ‘contracting out’, as well as serving on the Norman Fowler inquiry, set up by a later Conservative administration to look at reforms. In his famous diaries, Richard Crossman said that Stewart was “in real life as nice and understanding as he is on paper”.
Beyond actuarial matters, Stewart Lyon had a passionate interest in coinage (or numismatics), being the president of the British Numismatic Society from 1966 to 1970. As a coin collector, it was somewhat fitting that he also collected gold medals, and he was awarded the Sanford Saltus Gold Medal in 1974 for scholarly contributions to British numismatics. He delivered many papers on the particular niche that he studied, Anglo-Saxon coinage of the 9th and 10th centuries. Some of his collection has been on public display in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. From 1986 to 1993 he was a member of the Treasure Trove Reviewing Committee, charged with working out the value of discovered treasure for the purpose of compensating the finder. He also co-wrote Coinage in Tenth Century England (Oxford, 1989) with CE Blunt and BHIH Stewart (Lord Stewartby).
Stewart had a passion for support for the disabled, being a vice chairman of the Disablement Income Group and campaigning for better access to public buildings for disabled people. He and his wife, Elizabeth, a music teacher, were both singers and were involved with the Guildford Philharmonic Choir for many years. Stewart and Elizabeth were good friends with musicians such as the late William Mathias, the composer best known for his religious works. A number of their five children accompanied them in singing at actuarial functions, and Richard has followed his father to become a respected actuary.
WRITTEN BY PETER TOMPKINS, WITH THANKS TO DAVID RAYMONT, IFOA LIBRARIAN.
HISTORY Remembering Prince Philip
As the UK marked the passing of HRH The Prince Philip, the IFoA reflected on the occasion when the Duke of Edinburgh was the guest of honour at the Institute’s 24th Biennial Dinner in November 1979.
At the event, the Duke gave a speech in which he broke the ice by admitting his ignorance of what it is that actuaries actually do, before going on to say he was “deeply impressed by the fact that all those who do claim to know exactly what actuaries do are agreed that without the services and expertise of the members of the profession, the whole insurance and pension fund structure, and probably several other sectors of the economy, would collapse in total chaos.”
He acknowledged the responsibility that actuaries hold, particularly in light of the relatively small numbers of actuaries there were at the time of his speech (Institute membership numbered around 5,500 in 1979), and also paid tribute to their mathematical abilities as “verging on genius”. He went on to express his belief that “silicon chips and microprocessors” would not have an adverse effect on actuarial employment, and that actuaries’ contributions would actually become more valuable as technology improved.
The Institute was proudly operating then, as now, from its Royal Charter of 1884, and it was a great a great honour to have the Duke at this event; we express our condolences to the Royal Family. Read the full speech at bit.ly/3akBlRW
WCA: To all actuaries – £500 for your charity
Each year the Worshipful Company of Actuaries presents the Phiatus Award to an actuary – not necessarily a WCA member – who has made significant charitable efforts in the previous year or longer, together with a £500 donation to the winner’s selected charity. The presentation is made at a dinner, to which the winner is invited.
If you (or someone you know) is closely involved with a charity and would like to be considered for this year’s award and the £500 donation, please email details to Ian A Farr, who is a trustee of the Company of Actuaries Charitable Trust Fund. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Katy (LV) and Glyn Bradley (Mercer) are pleased to announce the birth of their daughters, Alice and Sophie.
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