Software - GIRO 2017 delegates comments

October saw Edinburgh hold the 2017 GIRO conference, and Bolton Associates were once again in the heart of the action, meeting up with contacts old and new and generally soaking up the atmosphere of the event. We held our yearly client dinner on the Wednesday evening, which was a great way to celebrate our exciting year with long term supporters of Bolton Associates and those who we have worked closely with this over 2017. During the dinner we held our annual Shut The Box competition, with Alex Baker, Chief Actuary of Hamilton Underwriting, taking the victory with a previously unheard of two consecutive shut boxes, congratulations Alex!

 We also took the opportunity to catch up with some of the delegates to hear their thoughts on this years’ conference. 
 Alice Boreman – Manger, Deloitte: “Another great GIRO, particularly enjoyed lots of discussion around IFRS 17 it is clear the GI market is now really engaging in the issues and it is really useful to get a wider perspective on the questions I am tackling in my day job. The introduction of the roundtable discussions was great too, and our table had a great conversation on the opportunities and pitfalls of process automation! But of course the highlight was dancing with the Bolton girls at the Piano Bar!”
 Daniel Heerey - Head of Pricing, Antares: “I thought there was a really good balance of technical and non-technical talks at GIRO this year. Duncan Anderson gave a great introductory guide to machine learning with clear encouragement that we should just get our hands dirty and understand the techniques.
 I generally enjoy the keynote speakers and this year was no exception. Susan Greenfield was incredibly smart and charismatic. She provided a fast paced introduction to neuroscience with some practical tips on how to keep good mental health at a time where our lives are becoming more and more influenced by technology. And of course GIRO is also great for catching up with friends and sharing ideas over a drink”
 Laura Curtis – Capital Modelling Actuary: “My favourite session of GIRO this year was "Plenary 7: The 21st Century Brain from Cradle to Grave: The Impact of Technology" by Baroness Susan Greenfield. 
 This session looked at how increasing technology is having an impact on the brain of individuals and what that may mean for the future. On a professional level, developing a better understanding of how people's brains are changing helps us predict potential changes in people's behaviour which could lead to changes in claims, how people want to interact with insurers, etc. On a personal level, the talk challenges you to think about the trade-off between the benefits and downsides of technology, particularly it's impacts on your brain and behaviour that you may be less aware of, so that you can make a more informed choice about how you want to use it."
 Carmen Loots – Divisional Director, Willis Re: “GIRO was bigger than ever before this year, with 900 confirmed delegates. The opening and closing speakers were the biggest hits in my opinion (mirrored by most other delegates I spoke to) - first Ann Pettifor speaking about the current economic climate and the final talk by Baroness Susan Greenfield, a neuroscientist who spoke about the 21st century brain and how technology is literally changing how our minds are wired. Fascinating. The IFoA did a really great job at attracting excellent external speakers this year.
 A personal favourite was a talk by the World Bank on the role of actuaries in developing financial protection covers against disasters in low and middle income countries e.g. Philippines, Caribbean. They gave a talk at Liverpool 2 years ago and it was great to hear about the progress they’ve made since then. Based on talks I had with other delegates throughout the conference and the attendance of the talk itself (given it was at 9:30 on Friday morning!) there appears to be a real and widespread interest in finding more ways for actuaries to contribute to society in a truly direct sense, such as the team at the WB are doing.
 As usual, GIRO didn’t disappoint on the networking and social side – it’s one of the main reasons people keep coming back every year and why GIRO keeps growing.”
 Alex D’Urso – Capital Modelling Manager, Ascot Underwriting and Shut the Box Winner 2016: GIRO 2017 was a great way to reconnect with friends and colleagues. I particularly enjoyed Baroness Susan Greenfield’s talk on the potential impact of the modern world on brain development – extremely thought provoking. The only negative part of the event was losing my Shut the Box Crown at the Bolton Associates’ dinner – although this only proved the game is down to luck and not skill!
 Nick Line – Chief Actuary, Markel and GI Actuary of the Year Award Nominee: “It was a great GIRO this year with particularly good external speakers. From the actuaries, I especially enjoyed Duncan Anderson's description of machine learning methods first thing on Thursday morning. Having one of GIRO’s best speakers present on this exciting topic was a stroke of scheduling genius and helped me overcome any sluggishness that I might have felt after my earlier 3am finish. It was literally worth getting out of bed for.”
 Hazel Beveridge – Senior Actuary, FCA and GI Actuary of the Year Award Nominee: “My highlights include Ann Pettifor’s prediction of another financial crash and Baroness Susan Greenfield’s fascinating explanation of the impact of screen time on risk taking behaviour. There were many sessions on Insurtech, machine learning and automation - it is clear that we are working in rapidly changing times and to remain relevant we will need to continue to develop new skills and collaborate with experts across the industry.”
 Richard Hartigan - Corporate Actuary, Hiscox: “Full credit to the organisers for having some absolutely superb Plenary sessions. Ann Pettifor (Global Monetary System), Duncan Anderson & Tony Bradshaw (Machine Learning), John Curtice (Opinion Polls), and especially Baroness Susan Greenfield (21st Century Brain) were all incredibly interesting, and fantastic presenters. Absolutely top drawer. On a social note the comedian at the main dinner was funny and entertaining (but as usual, can I remember any of his jokes? No!)”

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