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Importance of the Equitable Life Archive

The Archive of the Equitable Life Assurance Society contains the first evidence of the scientific practice of life insurance on the basis of 'actuarial' analysis of mortality and mathematics

The Archive presents an almost continuous record of how life insurance operated and endured over nearly 200 years as new companies entered an uncertain market in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The Society for Equitable Assurances on Lives and Survivorships first prospected for policy applicants with tables of level premiums calculated by age. It conducted the first actuarial valuation of liabilities (1776) and it pioneered the distribution of surplus in the first 'reversionary bonus' (1781) and 'interim bonus' (1801) among its members.

The term 'actuary' was first coined by the Society in its Deed of Settlement of 1762 and the role was later fulfilled in the modern sense with the appointment of a person skilled in probability and financial matters, most notably William Morgan from 1775.

Behind these landmarks in how life assurance has developed, not only to protect against the contingencies of life but also as a vehicle for providential return in later life, there is the work of individual mathematical thinkers and practitioners

James Dodson (ca. 1705-1757) produced for the first time a level premium for each age of applicant for an increasing or varying risk but he died leaving others to see his proposals for an insurance society through to fruition.

Edward Rowe Mores (1731-1778) and others then strove to establish the Society on sound administrative and mathematical principles. The Archive has original manuscript evidence of the mathematical advice of Richard Price (1723-1791) (dissenting minister and commentator at a time of momentous political changes) and principally of William Morgan, who served as Actuary from 1775 to 1830.

William Morgan would be followed by his younger son Arthur and then by other illustrious names, among them Henry Manly (1844-1914) (who developed the theoretical background of staff pension funds, the Society selling pensions from 1913), George Lidstone (1870-1952) and Sir William Elderton (1877-1962) both of whom were awarded gold medals by the Faculty of Actuaries and Institute of Actuaries for contributions to the advance of actuarial science.

The Society’s first years as an early ‘mutual’ office were marked by contest between its first subscribers (seeking return on initial risk capital they had put in to help set up the Society) and the interests of new applicants the business sought to attract

Debates continued about fair allocation of an accumulating surplus among qualifying members, whilst an actuarial perspective looked to ensure prudent levels of funding to meet the Society’s potential responsibilities for the next generations of policyholders.

There were external challenges to the Society’s apparent reliance on specific mortality tables (the experience of Northampton) over the long term and others advocating pooling this experience with wider sources for an improved forecast of life expectancy.

As William Morgan was called upon by government to provide mortality assumptions for viable sales of annuities in the government’s borrowing for state revenue, and the Society leading by example in its practice of regular valuations, it might be said that he fulfilled the roles of professional model and government actuarial adviser in the Society’s first fifty years.

Nearing the end of his fifty years in office, Morgan would have his work challenged by John Finlaison, first Actuary to the government, and others. Although the Society’s actuaries would play little part in the establishment of the Institute of Actuaries the Society’s part in designing the framework for scientific insurance practice and development cannot be denied. John Finlaison became the first president of the Institute of Actuaries.

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Contact Details

For any library enquiries please contact:

libraries@actuaries.org.uk

We try to respond to email queries within one working day. Researcher access to historical resources may require notice in advance of visit in order to retrieve items from storage.

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Events calendar

  • Webinar Series: Risk and Investment Conference 2019, 17 June

    These are online webinar events
    17 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The IFoA’s Risk Management and Finance and Investment Boards are delighted to host a series of webinars covering a range of topical and trending topics ranging from climate related risks to Brexit.

  • Spaces available

    Increasing global concern over the impact of climate change has recently led to public scrutiny over the adequacy of existing risk management practices by insurance firms and pension schemes in dealing with these challenges, that potentially impact both individual actuaries and the IFOA generally.

     

  • Pensions Conference 2019

    Bristol Marriott Hotel City Centre, 2 Lower Castle Street, Old Market, Bristol, BS1 3AD
    18-19 June 2019
    Spaces available

    Five plenaries and 13 workshops cover current topics and industry trends in the Pension sector with the opportunity to develop your network at the pre-conference evening dinner (18 June).  There is also a day ticket option available for the 19 June. 

  • KSS event – FinTech and The Actuarial Profession

    EY, Atria One, 144 Morrison Street, Edinburgh
    19 June 2019

    Spaces available

    This KSS talk from FinTech Scotland's CEO will explore the mission to create an integrated Fintech ecosystem through provision of funding, support, infrastructure and talent that recognises and responds to the needs of all stakeholders - and the overarching aim for Scotland to be one of the top 5 Fintech global leaders by 2020.

    To book your place, please email Barry_Shannon@standardlife.com 

  • Current Issues in General Insurance (CIGI) 2019

    Inmarsat, 99 City Road, London, EC1Y 1BJ
    19 June 2019

    Spaces available

    CIGI is a well-established one-day seminar designed to increase awareness and encourage discussion on a variety of topical issues across the general insurance industry. 

    There will be an excellent and diverse line-up of speakers to provide a variety of perspectives and challenge covering technical and professional areas. 

  • Cass Event – New Thinking about Deferred Annuities

    Cass Business School, Executive Education Facilities 200 Aldersgate St, London EC1A 4HD
    21 June 2019

    Spaces available

    Our motivation for discussing this important subject comes from some exciting recent research which has analysed the impact of behavioural factors on the decision to purchase an annuity. This work has shown that behavioural factors can explain the well-known low demand for immediate annuities but this research also identifies an important opportunity in relation to deferred annuities (DA). The research suggests that these factors lead to positive incentives to purchase a DA and that, for longer deferred periods, a DA could be an attractive product for both consumers and insurers.

  • IFoA/SAS Joint Professional Skills Training – Singapore

    Room 903, NTUC Centre, Level 9, One Marina Boulevard, Singapore 018989
    25 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and Singapore Actuarial Society (SAS) are organising a joint Professional Skills Training (PST) in Singapore. This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Life, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Webinar Series: Risk and Investment Conference 2019, 26 June

    These are online webinar events.
    26 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The IFoA’s Risk Management and Finance and Investment Boards are delighted to host a series of webinars covering a range of topical and trending topics ranging from climate related risks to Brexit.

  • AGM and Presidential Address 2019 + Volunteer and Member Drinks Reception

    The Hub  Castlehill Edinburgh EH1 2NE
    26 June 2019

    Spaces available

    Notice is hereby given that the ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the INSTITUTE AND FACULTY OF ACTUARIES will be held at The Hub, Edinburgh on Wednesday 26 June 2019 at 16.30 (Preceded by tea from 16.00) and followed by a PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS given by John Taylor.

  • IFAM event - Actuarial Teachers’ & Researchers’ Conference 2019

    Institute for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics Department of Mathematical  Sciences The University of Liverpool Mathematical Sciences Building Peach Street Liverpool, L69 7ZL
    27 June 2019 - 29 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics (IFAM) at the University of Liverpool is pleased to host the 2019 Actuarial Teachers’ and Researchers’ Conference from 27-28 June 2019. This annual two-day event has been running annually now for many years, each time hosted by a different university, and provides all those interested in actuarial research and education a great opportunity to share their ideas and catch up on the latest developments.

  • IFoA/ASM Joint Professional Skills Training – Kuala Lumpur

    Menara AIA, Auditorium, 99 Jalan Ampang, 50450, Kuala Lumpur
    28 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM) are organising a joint Professional Skills Training (PST) in Kuala Lumpur. This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Life, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • SIAS: The Impact of Air Pollution on Health and Life Expectancy

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    2 July 2019

    Spaces available

    Air pollution has gained increasing attention lately. Nicola Oliver, head of longevity and mortality research for Medical Intelligence, will discuss not only the impacts of air pollution on health and life expectancy but also how as an industry we should be addressing it.

  • Spaces available

    The actuarial profession has much to offer the world of banking. In this webinar actuaries with experience in various fields of banking will talk about the opportunities there are in banking; describing the actuarial aspects of the work they do as well as other roles within their area of banking.

  • Implications of 2019 IFRS 17 Exposure Draft

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    24 July 2019

    Spaces available

    Towards the end of June, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is expected to publish an Exposure Draft (ED) of limited changes to its insurance contracts standard IFRS 17, effective date 2022. To help IFoA members, the IFoA’s cross-practice Financial Reporting Group (FRG) is hosting an event at Staple Inn covering these developments. 

    For more information on the FRG please visit this webpage

  • KSS event – The Regulatory Perspective

    Deloitte Saltire Court 20 Castle Terrace Edinburgh EH1 2EG
    5 September 2019

    Spaces available

    This KSS talk, presented by the FCA Head of Department in Scotland, will focus on the following 3 main areas:

    • FCA business plan priorities
    • The future of regulation
    • FCA Engagement in Scotland
  • Sessional Research Event - Risk Margin Working Party

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London, WC1V 7QJ
    9 September 2019

    Spaces available

    For life insurers in the UK, the risk margin is one of the most controversial aspects of the Solvency II regime. Following its implementation, the risk margin came under considerable criticism for being too large and too sensitive to interest rate movements. These criticisms are particularly valid for annuity business – such business is of great significance to the national system for retirement provision. This criticism has led to political interest, and the risk margin was a major element of the Treasury Committee inquiry into Solvency II.

  • GIRO Conference 2019

    EICC, The Exchange, 150 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8EE
    24-26 September 2019
    Spaces available

    GIRO is attended annually by over 800 delegates and speakers who are keen to discuss key topics such as Pricing, Reserving, Modelling and the future of the insurance industry. GIRO 2018 was a huge success and we have opened bookings early for what we hope will be another brilliant conference at the EICC in Edinburgh this year. 

     

  • Autumn Lecture 2019, London - Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP

    Lincoln's Inn The Treasury Office, London WC2A 3TL
    2 December 2019

    Spaces available

    The IFoA is pleased to announce that this year’s Autumn Lecture will feature the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP as its guest speaker.  Nicky has previously served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Women. She now chairs the Treasury Select Committee whose remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of HM Treasury, along with all of its agencies and associated bodies.