The Longevity Catalysts Working Party has been set up by the actuarial profession to answer one simple question:
"What future events are we aware of today whose occurrence is likely to be coupled with a significant impact on UK longevity?"
It is clearly impossible to foresee all future catalyst events that will significantly impact human lifespan. The situation is thus imperfect. Yet this serves to illustrate the even greater imperfection of ignoring future catalyst events that are now known.
Examples of catalysts are provided that relate to both past and future events. By their nature future catalysts are naturally dynamic and evolving so an interactive means for the proposition of new catalysts is provided.
The possible implications of a well maintained library of catalysts are far-reaching. Importantly, they include helping financial institutions to better understand and manage related risks thereby making lifelong promises made to policyholders much more secure.
Current actuarial approaches to the assessment of future mortality trends are heavily reliant on reference to historical mortality data. This is not without foundation – but
• drivers behind past trends are often “one-off” type events which may be unlikely to recur
• assumptions relating to longevity are then not reactive to real world events (or indicators) until the effects flow through to past observed data
This has been likened to driving whilst looking primarily in the rear view mirror.
Longevity Catalysts can co-exist with current approaches to help establish a framework that is more forward looking in nature.
This might then be regarded as looking through the windscreen without forsaking those important, regular glances in the rear view mirror.