This year's life conference had the theme of sustainability.
I was delighted the conference was able to go ahead this year, online rather than in person. There was good and bad about the new format but there was certainly many interesting sessions.
The big topics of the conference were
Sustainability - climate change, biodiversity loss and aging populations
IFRS17 transition and the highly anticipated move in 2022
Review of Solvency II and the Qualitative Impact Study (QIS)
There was a number of wide ranging sessions here, from what the IFoA is doing to help actuaries incorporate it in their work, to the difficulty of common metrics to measure, and more technical presentations on how scenarios could be modelled.
For me, the most interesting session was on biodiversity loss with a great talk given by EY and Phoenix, 'Waking up to nature: the biodiversity imperative in financial services'. I really see that this loss is very tangible, immediate and financial services can play a huge role in reversing it. I was pleased to learn about a number of initiatives set up, but it seems like there's still a lot to do.
Source: IFoA Life Conference 2021, 'Waking up to nature: the biodiversity imperative in financial services'.
Review of Solvency II
Shout out to Milliman and their excellent presentation 'Milliman Hot Topics Session'. Florin did a great summary of what the QIS scenarios were and their potential impacts. My takeaway was that Scenario A would give a reduction in Risk Margin (under the MOCE approach) but that this would be more than offset by the increase in liabilities from the fall in the MA (due to the increased allowance for credit risk). Scenario B would be more of a neutral impact on day1 with the impact on both roughly cancelling.
Source: Milliman, 'Hot Topics Webinar' 2021
There was also a good session on this topic from the Bank of England explaining their reasoning behind the QIS scenarios. In summary, to make expectation of credit losses linked to current spread levels, and revaluate the appropriateness of the level and sensitivity of the Risk Margin. The scenarios broadly look like they achieve this. We will see where it heads with the HMT review this year.
Online here to stay?
I enjoyed being able to watch the recorded sessions at leisure over the Christmas break, whereas usually they would be packed over a couple of days, dashing from room to room. Watching online had the benefit of being able to really digest the topics (rewind, pause, examine the slides).
However I hugely missed the social aspect of being able to discuss the ideas and make connections over a coffee or a balanced plate from the lunch buffet.
I hope next year it's back in person, but still with the sessions recorded to be able to watch back. That way I think we can really maintain the lifeblood and the sustainability of the life conference itself.