Old Mutual Insure chief actuary wins prestigious global award

Ronald Richman, chief actuary at Old Mutual Insure, has been awarded the highly acclaimed Brian Hey prize 2021 for actuarial research in the short-term insurance market. Presented by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in the UK, this is an international actuarial research award given to the best short term insurance papers every year.

Richman’s paper on deep learning models – which he wrote together with renowned Swiss actuary Mario Wüthrich – saw the duo come out tops in this year’s battle for the prize, beating entries submitted from across the globe. 

“Deep learning models often are accurate but hard to interpret. Our new method is very accurate but is still explainable to customers, regulators and other stakeholders, ensuring that we understand how and why decisions are being made,” says Richman, adding that the new deep learning model is applied to short-term insurance pricing in the award-winning paper. 

Some of the criteria for evaluation included technical content, innovation, readability, and industry-wide appeal.

“As this is a very topical and relevant subject, I hope it inspires industry wide discussions between general insurance actuaries, other actuarial professionals, as well as underwriters, claims handlers and so on,” he says. 

He is the very first recipient to have won the award more than once since the inception of the awards in 1998. He won the Brian Hey prize in 2020, together with another actuary, for their research paper entitled “The Actuary and IBNR Techniques: A Machine Learning Approach.” 

Garth Napier, MD at Old Mutual Insure, says that it is a real “feather in the cap” for South Africa to have one of the country’s foremost experts recognised on a global stage.  

“We are very proud to have ‘best of breed’ actuarial talent leading the team at Old Mutual Insure,” says Napier. “Our business is actively innovating in short term insurance to bring customers the best product at the right price, and this accolade serves as a testament to our team’s continued commitment to innovation, excellence and customer-centricity.”

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