It was my pleasure to be the Co-Chairman of the Risk and Investment Conference which has just taken place between 25 and 27 June in Leeds, UK. I was the Chair for the Risk element of the conference with Margaret de Valois of Mazars the Chair of the Investment side of the conference. This blog post reviews the conference and offers some personal perspectives as the chair.
This year we managed 250 members and guests attending, which was a record and so good that we had to close registration earlier than intended. This was pleasing as it provides the Actuarial Profession Events team with some confidence that they can book a larger venue next year and continue growing the conference.
Highlights of the conference were a keynote talk from leading global financial journalist Gillian Tett of the Financial Times which I was very pleased to be able to chair. Gillian discussed the application of anthropological ideas to the cultural aspects of risk management and updated the audience on the latest geopolitical developments in financial markets. Gillian is an anthropologist by training and frequently makes use of her training in her journalism. She was joined in her session by leading anthropologist, Michael Thompson of the IIASA Research Institute and Alice Underwood of Willis Re, who have been interpreting the ideas of The Cultural Theory of Risk for practical use. Michael explained the Cultural Theory of Risk as pioneered by Mary Douglas before Alice Underwood helped put the ideas into an actuarial context and highlighted where most actuaries tend to operate – i.e., in the hierarchical solidarity. We ended the session with a short Q&A for Gillian before she had to head back to London; it was very encouraging to hear her endorsement for the work that Michael, Alice (and ex-Milliman Principal Dave Ingram) had been doing.