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Why are there more shark attacks being reported this year in NSW?

October 5, 2015
Are there sharks in that water?

Lately there have been an increasing number of shark attacks off the NSW coast. I’m increasingly having a conversation with friends about why the number of sharks is increasing. But are there more sharks? Or just more shark attacks? First on the shark attacks. In 2015 we have had a huge increase in shark attacks. There has been a death in February in Ballina and a serious injury in June (also in Ballina). According to the official shark attack file, there have been 13 unprovoked shark attacks off the coast of NSW so far this year –  with one death and seven involving injuries. In contrast, in 2014 there were three unprovoked attacks (two deaths), in 2013 there were three attacks (with one death and one involving injury) and in 2012 there were five unprovoked attacks with no deaths (three involving injuries). In the four most recent years (including 2015 which isn’t finished yet), there have…

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Insurance – can it be a technology leader?

September 26, 2015
The Antikythera mechanism - insurance technology of the ancients

In June 1958, under Alf Pollard’s leadership, Australia’s first commercial computer was installed in the MLC buildings in North Sydney. MLC was (and still is) one of Australia’s biggest life insurers. The computer weighed five tonnes, had a room of its own, cost £160,000 and took 20 million times longer to do an arithmetic calculation than a personal computer would take today. (see Alf Pollard’s biography for more). Back then, insurance, particularly life insurance, was the tech-savvy industry – AMP followed with its own computer a few years later. But is it today? Since 1958, insurance, particularly life insurance, has stopped being…

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A cycling update

September 12, 2015
Cycling on Sydney's bike paths

Last year, after a spate of cycling deaths, I posted about the riskiness of cycling in Sydney. I concluded that cycling Sydney’s streets is actually safer than it was 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve gone back to a regular commute – I’m cycling to work two or three times a week at the moment. So how’s safety now? So far this year there have been four cycling deaths in NSW, which compares with eight for the same period in 2014. For the twelve months to the end of August, there have been seven deaths, which compares with an average of…

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Book Review: I know how she does it

July 26, 2015
Find more time to enjoy the sunsets

Today’s book review is of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, by Laura Vanderkam. Those of my readers who know me in real life will know that I have recently started a new job (hence the lack of blog posts here). As always happens in a new job, the start-up costs in terms of time, to get on top of things, can be a bit daunting,…

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Appointed Actuary – a cross practice discussion

May 14, 2015
Appointed Actuary? Not a robot

I’ve blogged about the role of the Appointed Actuary before – here and here. My own view has been that we need to positively define the role of the Appointed Actuary, and that, at least in life insurance, it should be closer to the first line of defence (ie managing the business) than second or third line. As I noted in this blog previously, the Actuaries Institute set up a task force (of which I was…

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How big is the indigenous gap?

May 10, 2015

This week’s Economist has a sobering article about the gap between black and white america. It included a graphic of various statistics, showing the difference between black and white america on a range of measures. It also showed how the two compared with various countries around the world – for example, the life expectancy at birth of black americans is closest to that of Tunisia, whereas for white americans, it is closest to life expectancy…

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ANZAC Day – A family story

April 25, 2015

On Anzac Day, it seems a good time to remember one of the soldiers in my family – my grandfather. He was lucky – he came back, and had five children and lived a long life after the war, even though he was wounded. I never met him, as he died when I was three. But I’ve seen some of the (quite dangerous) souvenirs he brought back from the war, and heard stories about him all my…

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ICAAP – Lessons Learned

April 21, 2015

On Wednesday this week (22 April), I am part of a panel discussion on ICAAP – comparing and contrasting the experience across the banking, life and general insurance industries. I’m representing life insurance. This post summarises the points from my introduction. I’ll come back and update with any interesting points from the panel discussion. Challenges in implementation Life insurers had to introduce ICAAP from 1 January 2013, which meant we had to have an approved…

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Parental leave – some good developments

March 22, 2015

I’ve written a few times about how progressing women in the workplace also involves more change than just the workplace. Annabel Crabb puts it best: In focusing so hard on encouraging women to lean in, we’ve neglected to convince men of their entitlement to lean out once in a while. In my post about progressing women in leadership, I made a similar point: … a sustainable increase in the proportion of women in leadership roles in…

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International Women’s Day

March 8, 2015
Source: Economist

On International Women’s Day, I’ve been too busy enjoying the various panels at All About Women to write anything particularly deep or meaningful. So here are a few links. First, just as last year, The Economist has published a glass ceiling index. Sadly, Australia has dropped down this year below the OECD average. As last year, Australia’s best attribute is our percentage of women in senior managerial positions at 36.7% of the total (a number that seems…

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Actuarial Hackathon

March 3, 2015

This is a guest post from my colleague, Zhan Wang, who was one of the organisers of our actuarial hackathon for our actuarial team. It was inspired by a number of the responses to this post, that asked how a team of actuaries could help the community. On Friday 13th February we hosted a ‘Hackathon’ volunteer day to give back to the community.  The aim of the day was to utilise analytical skills that actuaries…

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Ebola – Actuarial insights

March 1, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 8.38.45 pm

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is not over yet. But there have recently been a few cautious articles suggesting that it is getting better, and that perhaps the worst is over. The Economist, probably the mainstream media source I trust the most on this, says, The outbreak continues to claim lives, but after glimmers of good news in recent weeks worrying signs remain. And just this week, the Vice President of Sierra Leone put…

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About me

My name is Jennifer Lang, and I am an actuary working in financial services in Sydney. This site consists of my own personal views, and does not necessarily reflect the views of my employers - past, present or future.

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