CILA is the annual Current Issues in Life Assurance meeting set up by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries to discuss the latest developments in the field. And, of course, to provide CPD hours for those who haven’t quite got enough with the June deadline looming. Poor sods.
Now, as much as I’m sure you all enjoy a lively discussion on Life Company tax, EMIR’s impact on derivative investment, and the pros and cons of a ZIRP, I thought I’d give a slightly less actuarial review of proceedings.
Firstly, the day was held in the building of the Royal College of Physicians. This is across the road from Regent’s Park, in an area of outstanding beauty, fabulous architecture, and opulent finishings. Except for the building we were in, which is something out of a 60’s Soviet nightmare. It’s a chunky concrete edifice with no redeeming features, apart perhaps from the tree which obscures it from the road. And inside, it’s worse. There are wide staircases going up, and a spiral marble one going down. There are worn paving stones everywhere, and a use of space that is wasteful at best. When combined with the decor of the college – the walls hung with portraits of prominent members – it makes no sense at all, and jarrs really badly. Or really well, depending on how you measure jarringness. (Jarrity? Jarridity?)
Even placed in isolation, the building would be an eyesore. Where it is in London makes it a travesty.
The second thing I just have to report is that we actuaries are definitely becoming more adventurous. At least based on the anecdotal evidence of today. Out of a population of 250, there were two with arms in a sling. Which makes them the first cases of what is arguably an activity-related injury I have ever seen on an actuary (I’m not counting Greg B getting run over by a bus in Tanzania while cycling Cape to Cairo, because seriously, that’s just too much). It was quite a shock as I looked around the room, past the huddles of actuaries in dark grey suits talking to each other’s footwear. Their blue slings stood out almost as much as the extroverted smiles on the waitresses. A little disturbing – despite the top ranking in a recent US job satisfaction survey, I’m having a few minor misgivings about my career choice.
Finally, I have to say a little about the cheese table served up as an alternative to dessert. For once, it didn’t contain jut the usual Cheddar, Brie and Camembert, but had 6 different varieties. Impressive. However, the trend to serve up fresh Brie and immature Yarg was strong with these people. Such a pity that more effort isn’t put in to let cheese ripen a little before serving.
But wait, what’s that big one at the back of the table? Indeed, it was a large Highland Blue, mature enough to start losing its shape. As though it had picked up Pythonesque yearnings and was off in search of a thirsty cat. Naturally, no one was brave enough to interrupt this journey by cutting in to it. Except me. I wasn’t sure whether the resulting silence was due to my colleagues being shocked into wordlessness, or just the bouzouki player in the doorway leaving in a hurry.