Kelvin Chamunorwa considers changes in the financial world and actuaries response to them
Events in the financial industry last month were particularly tumultuous - it made catching up on daily news a gripping affair. Trading was suspended on the New York stock exchange for almost four hours after a technical glitch, Barclays' chief executive hastily left his post after a clash with colleagues on strategy, and the Chinese government introduced unconventional measures to curb the free fall of its stock market, including banning some share sales. All this in just one day!
Concurrently, Greece was under the spotlight, having just held a referendum and eventually reaching a deal with Europe. It seems to me though that 'Grexit' - the possibility of Greece leaving the Eurozone - is seen more as an ideological issue, rather than a financial one. In a future edition of The Actuary, we plan to unpack the implications of the financial situation on actuaries there.
Turning to financial risk as it relates to defined benefit (DB) pension schemes, Costas Yiasoumi writes about medically underwritten annuities this month. Previously the realm of smaller schemes, Yiasoumi describes the emerging prevalence of larger schemes taking advantage of this risk management technique through 'top-slicing' (Slicing and pricing: medical underwriting).
The purchase of bulk annuities by the private sector to eliminate risk is leading to consolidation of DB schemes within the insurance industry. This will continue, and might even accelerate. The direction of travel is clear, as defined contribution (DC) arrangements replace DB schemes.
In an effort to understand how the industry is responding to these trends, The Actuary sat down with SIAS chair and managing director of Towers Watson's DC master trust solution, Fiona Matthews. In the interview, Matthews discusses why enhancing member engagement is key to improving member outcomes, given individuals' greater autonomy in decision-making (A vision for variety).
While some of the recent events came as a surprise, the signs were clearer for others. Similarly, there is a shift in our industry, led by the evolving economic and regulatory landscape. The articles I have touched on above show how actuaries are responding.