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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 public society as a whole will only happen with a sustainable increase in the proportion of men taking leadership roles in the home. Well some recent moves on the parental leave front have made that a little bit more likely. At NAB: All NAB employees can now take paid primary carer leave anytime within the first 12 months of a child’s life. Previously, it was only available to the primary carer for 12 weeks on the birth…

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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 suspiciously high to me, but we will let that slide). The great thing about this index is that is combining a number of attributes of…

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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 have to solve problems for not-for-profit organisations. Thirty of us from NAB Wealth  - both actuaries and data analysts – were joined by representatives from…

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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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Life insurance profitability – how is it going?

February 22, 2015
Source: APRA, my own analysis

Every quarter (since June 2008), APRA summarises various financial statistics from the life insurance industry in a quarterly report. Every quarter, I read it eagerly, to see if it answers the question that I am often asked, “how will we know if the life insurance cycle has turned?”. The total industry appears to be slightly on an upswing, if you look at the annual average. But that hides the worst individual line yet – retail disability…

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What did I read in 2014?

February 8, 2015
Sitting doing nothing all New Year's Eve

I’ve written up my annual page about what I read in 2014 here. In this post, I’m just mentioning the books that I enjoyed the most. First, The Wife Drought, by Annabel Crabb. I reviewed that one here, and you can see I really enjoyed it. It’s my pick for the year. Second, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. This one didn’t make my review list, but I highly recommend it – a combination of great writing,…

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Progressing Women in Leadership – what works?

December 6, 2014
We can do it

In the past two days I have read two insightful pieces of research into how to create an organisation where women can progress. Chief Executive Women commissioned a study with Bain & Co which  used the concept of net promoter score (advocates minus detractors to a specific question) to tease out what aspects of a company were most likely to lead employees to strongly agree that they are likely  to recommend their organisation as a place for women to progress to…

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Life insurance quarterly statistics – quick hit

November 30, 2014
APRA Stats

I’m a bit behind here, but APRA released their quarterly life insurance statistics this month. I’ve done a quick graph of the rolling 12 months profits since APRA first started releasing these statistics. Note that Group Insurance and Disability Income Insurance are different subsets of the total – the subset (that I haven’t shown) where the industry is making money is retail lump sum insurance. The graph shows that the rolling 12 months profit for…

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Cardboard management

November 11, 2014

When someone in my team wants my help with something, I often find myself playing the role of cardboard manager. Someone I worked with 15 years ago coined the term and I’ve used it ever since. I find myself asking them to explain the issue to me, and what they need me to help resolve. A startling proportion of the time, before they have finished explaining, and often before I have said another word, they stop, tell me…

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Ebola update

October 26, 2014
Ebola reproduction and mortality

Since I blogged about Ebola a couple of months ago it’s become very mainstream news (so much so that the primary school kids are talking about it now). So here are a couple of great diagrams that caught my eye from this Economist graphical summary of various ways of thinking about Ebola. Two important ways of thinking about any infectious, deadly disease are: how easily it spreads – in epidemiology, that is called the basic reproduction number…

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Life Insurance Appointed Actuaries – how should the role change?

October 25, 2014
Financial Risk Management - avoid the icebergs

Regular readers of this blog might remember a previous post of mine wondering about the role of the Appointed Actuary (AA) in life insurance. Since that post, the Actuaries Institute has formed a taskforce, of which I am a member. We had an insights session this week, in which we outlined our preliminary recommendations for change. Members can watch the video of the discussion here. I’m summarising the major recommendations here, for readers to comment. The commentary is…

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Book Review: The Power of Noticing

October 5, 2014
Book Review: The Power of Noticing

Today’s book review is The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See, by Max H Bazerman, Harvard Business School Professor. Bazerman is a scholar of decision making, and is Co-Director of the Harvard Kennedy’s School Centre for Public leadership. His thesis is that fundamentally that if you become better at noticing the unexpected, the surprising, the path not travelled, that you will become a better leader. He uses a series of anecdotes to help you…

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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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