2013 Investment Symposium – if you are impacted by investment risk, this is your meeting!

By Tracy Labonte and Ed Martin, 2013 Investment Symposium Co-Chairs

The state of the economy has always impacted actuaries and their work, but that has never been more true than today. Low interest rates by themselves present a formidable problem for savers, investors and intermediaries such as insurance companies. The Government’s efforts to improve the economy by keeping interest rates down have raised concerns that inflation will reappear and with it dramatically-increasing interest rates.  To add another layer of complexity to the problem, other nations’ economic performance continues to significantly affect the North American economies.

For those of us trying to figure out how to help our employers and clients manage these risks while still producing targeted returns, the Investment Symposium is the meeting to attend. There is a great lineup of sessions, but even better there is the chance to network with professionals who are working on the same challenges.

One challenge facing many of us is setting an expectation for future investment returns and risks given the highly unusual economic and political environment. Several sessions will address this theme, including sessions on the equity risk premium, inflation expectations and expected returns across asset classes. We are very pleased this year to have Dr. Robert Merton, the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics and Distinguished Professor of Economics at MIT, presenting a general session on embedded options plus a session on new concepts in defined contribution investing.

Another highlight will be a professionalism session featuring Aaron Brown, author of Red Blooded Risk and the head of risk management at AQR, David Li, head of modeling at AIG Asset Management, and Barry Schachter, PRMA board member and former head of risk at hedge funds Woodbine Capital and SAC.  This session will talk about what it takes to be a professional quantitative/risk manager and how to manage and grow a risk function. It is also a great way to pick up those continuing ed professionalism credits!

There will be more great sessions about risk: noted quant Emmanuel Derman will speak at the general session about themes from his most recent book Models Behaving Badly, and Bob Mark of Black Diamond Risk will give a concurrent session called the Essentials of Risk Management. Both Mark and Brown won the GARP’s Risk Manager of the Year awards.

You’ll choose from concurrent sessions organized around four tracks:

  • Retirement: covering both defined contribution (with talks by Olivia Mitchell of the Wharton School and Bob Merton), and defined benefit with sessions on the equity risk premium and new research. There will be a session on alternative investments in DC plans and Jeremy Gold will present his Redington Prize winning paper that looks at retirement plans from a corporate finance perspective.
  • Quantitative, Risk and ALM: covering topics such as hedging, volatility, managing the risk of low interest rates, economic capital,  economic scenarios and ALM
  • Economics, Accounting and Regulatory:  Bob Mark will talk about the “Essentials of Risk Management,” and there are sessions on the Eurozone, the mortgage market, regulation and accounting.
  • Portfolio Management:  There will be sessions on insurance industry asset allocation, capital management, inflation risks, long duration credit,  ETFs and the “New Normal”.

For more details and to register for the meeting, check out the Investment Symposium website. We’re really excited about this year’s line up of speakers, and it promises to be a great meeting. We look forward to seeing you there.


Tracy Labonte, FSA, MAAA and  Ed Martin, FSA, MAAA are co-chairs of the 2013 Investment Symposium. Event Partner opportunities are available for the 2013 Investment Symposium. If you are interested in learning more about these opportunities, please contact Denise Fuesz a dfuesz@soa.org or 847.706.3516.

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