Latest Story

Financial System Inquiry – the Interim report

July 20, 2014
David_Murray

The Financial System Inquiry, headed by David Murray (former Chairman of the Future Fund and CEO of Commonwealth Bank) has released its Interim Report  (all 460 pages of it). For those who haven’t been following this, this inquiry (which is already known as the Murray inquiry) is the natural successor to the Wallis (1997) and Campbell (1981) inquiries, which recommended big changes to the Australian Financial system of regulation at the time (APRA and ASIC were one result of the Wallis inquiry, and many of the changes deregulating the system in the 1980s were recommended by Campbell’s report). I haven’t managed to read all those 460 pages yet, so I thought I would quickly post some reactions. While the report addresses the whole financial system, much of the reaction came from the chapter on superannuation and in particular, on financial planning. Peter Martin, in the Age and SMH, was typical: Its most radical suggestion is…

Read more »

Book Review: #Girlboss

July 13, 2014
girlboss

#GIRLBOSS, by Sophia Amoruso, is part memoir, part business advice, part self-help book, written by the founder of Nasty Gal, an online fashion retailer which is,  after seven years of life, making $100m in annual sales - all online, with bricks and mortar stores coming soon. It is a light breezy read of life lessons from someone who dropped out, found her passion and worked harder than she could possibly have imagined to make the successful business she has today. In a small way, her story echoes the well told Steve Jobs tale of someone who learned a series of unrelated things (in…

Read more »

Book Review: The Trusted Advisor

June 28, 2014
Much easier for a real person to be a trusted advisor than a robot

The Trusted Advisor, by Maister, Green and Galford Last week I ran a workshop as part of the Young Actuaries Program at the Actuaries Institute on building relationships for both external and internal clients. In preparing for it, and talking to colleagues (especially Darren Robinson, who reminded me I had lent him the book years ago), I re-read the best book on this topic, from the professional services guru, David Maister (and two coauthors, Charles Green and Robert Galford). I liberally borrowed from it in developing my presentation, so time for me to return the favour here. Maister, Green and Galford separately have long careers advising on different aspects…

Read more »

The Role of the Appointed Actuary

June 11, 2014
IMG_1269

Concerns about the appointed actuary role In a recent Insight publication (pdf), APRA made a few points about the role of Appointed Actuaries, particularly where it involves Pricing, which seem to express some concern as to whether appointed actuaries have been effective: A tender for group insurance involves input from a number of professional parties, including product managers, underwriters and reinsurers, to formulate a competitive tender. APRA’s view is that Appointed Actuaries are central gatekeepers in the…

Read more »

Book Review: Asia’s Cauldron, by Robert Kaplan

June 9, 2014
IMG_1705

Today’s book review is Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific, by Robert Kaplan. Robert Kaplan is an American journalist and foreign policy adviser. Although this book is about Asia, he writes this book not so much an Asian expert (although he clearly is), as an American foreign policy expert, and so this book is as much about the implications of what is happening in Asia on US Foreign Policy…

Read more »

Big data and actuaries – are we part of the solution?

May 11, 2014
Investigating Big Data

The Actuaries Institute had a financial services forum last week, which I managed to get to some of. My first report is of the Big data plenary session which closed the conference. I’ll start with some background reading: Cheerleaders for big data have made four exciting claims, each one reflected in the success of Google Flu Trends: that data analysis produces uncannily accurate results; that every single data point can be captured, making old statistical sampling…

Read more »

Women’s only carriages: balancing harassment and crowds

April 20, 2014
P1030752

The Eye family is on holiday in Japan at the moment. Our family of four (three male, one female) accidentally jumped into a women’s only carriage on the Osaka metro the other day. It took us one stop to run the gamut of emotions from surprised, to embarrassed, to indignation (that such a carriage was necessary, or at such special treatment for women, take your pick) and we got out and switched carriages at the next…

Read more »

Weekend Links

April 6, 2014
Links

I’m not going to make a habit of this, but there have been some great articles for interested actuaries this week that I wanted to point to. Tim Harford in the FT wondered whether in our enthusiasm for Big Data, we have forgotten some statistical principles: Four years after the original Nature paper was published, Nature News had sad tidings to convey: the latest flu outbreak had claimed an unexpected victim: Google Flu Trends. After reliably…

Read more »

How many ships disappear each year?

March 30, 2014
Oil tanker in Greenwich, Sydney

When I read The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, one statistic that astonished me was that “two large ships sink every week on average [worldwide] ” according to Dr Wolfgang Rosenthal. The author, Susan Carson, suggests that the numbers are high, but that “every year, on average, more than two dozen large ships sink, or otherwise go missing, taking their crews along with them.” In a prescient comment,…

Read more »

Mortality statistics in Australia

March 23, 2014
Mortality rates  female

Every year, the ABS puts out an analysis of mortality statistics for the calendar year, imaginatively entitled Deaths. And most years I post a quick analysis. The most recent one is based on mortality statistics for the calendar year 2012. This year I’ve focused on mortality improvement, and what has been happening over the past generation. The first graph I’ve shown is a little busy, but broadly what it shows is that the biggest improvement in…

Read more »

Glass ceiling statistics

March 16, 2014
Glass Ceiling

Back as part of the International Women’s Day festivities, Tony Abbott, speaking at an event in Canberra on Tuesday to mark the upcoming International Women’s Day, declared that while we still have some work to do Australia is a nation which has just about “smashed every glass ceiling”. “If you look at our country and the deal that it gives to women; it is obviously pretty good,” he said. “It wasn’t so long ago as a Sydneysider that…

Read more »

Is MoS Accounting to blame for the woes of the Australian retail life insurance industry?

March 9, 2014
4271445364_fe1604e1ed_z-resized-600

At the Actuaries Institute Financial Services Forum, in May, I’m running a Panel discussion entitled Is MOS Accounting Responsible for the Woes of the Retail Life Industry? This post gives some background to the question and why it seemed a good topic for a panel discussion. What are the woes of the Retail Life Industry? I posted earlier this year about the issues affecting the Australian life industry as a whole. Annualised profit as a percentage of…

Read more »

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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.

My twitter feed