Another day down
May 26, 2013

This morning was a slightly later start with an 8am meeting.  I managed to sneak in breakfast before the meeting so that I wasn’t speaking with my mouthful the whole time. Breakfast at the hotel is very efficiently done. There is only 1 staff member on duty and that person is just checking you actually stay in the hotel and don’t try to steal breakfast. Everything else is done by yourself. In fact everything is like that at the hotel. I am staying at the Novotel World Forum ( They have minimal staff clearly as a way of keeping their costs down. Even the minibar has a sign in it saying you can buy whatever you want from the fridge next to reception (so they only have to re-stock that fridge and it is much easier to keep track of what you are buying). There is never more than one person on the front desk at any point in time. Amazingly it does seem to work actually.

I had 4 meetings today. The first one was with the UK who filled us in on all the political wranglings in the IAA (International Actuarial Association). Always interesting to get the gossip on who is after world domination, who has offended whom etc. The council meeting is tomorrow am and I think it is going to be more interesting than the last two I have attended. I then attended a meeting on Education which incredibly finished by the tea break when it was scheduled to run until lunch. That gave me a little time off before lunch. We then had a lunch with one of the American bodies (they have numerous ones not like the rest of the world that just have one per country). They also filled us in on further political maneuvers but overall it was a pleasant, relaxed lunch.

After lunch we have what is called the President’s Forum. All the Presidents of the various actuarial bodies are members and it is meant to be a session to benefit the Presidents and involving discussion of items of mutual interest. I am not yet officially the President of the SA body but the President forgot to register (even though he is here) and so they had my name on the main table and so I couldn’t even slip out at the tea break like I usually do. I made sure the President didn’t leave at the tea break either!

The Dutch had hijacked the organisation of this meeting. They had invited the chairman of AIOPA (don’t bother to ask what that stands for or whether it should matter to you, it won’t).  He was Portuguese. His English was OK. He spoke for an hour. No slides. But then also no notes. He spoke about European regulation and other such matters. Most of the Presidents weren’t interested. The Hong Kong representative on my left fell asleep for at least 30 minutes. He jerked himself upright a few times. I thought he was going to fall off the chair. He didn’t. The Israeli rep on my right napped off for 5 minutes on 2 occasions. Next to him the President of one of the Japanese organisations (they also have more than one probably to match the Americans) had a few catnaps. As I was at the main table I couldn’t even play some games on my iPhone or iPad.  I pretended to take notes on my iPad a few times and managed to check emails, get a Super XV rugby scores update etc. In the middle of his talk I got an email from our head of HR asking what the collective noun is for a group of actuaries. I came up with (the help of the internet):
1. An expense of actuaries
2. A provision of actuaries
3. An assurance of actuaries
4. A tedium of actuaries

I think 4 is more appropriate for these meetings at least.

After the gentlemen from AIOPA finished we had tea and then a panel discussion ensued which was actually quite good. They had a Dutch journalist moderating and he did a very good job of involving everyone in the discussion and there were definitely some good points made. It was thought provoking and dare I say it might even have been challenging in places. Definitely the best hour so far of the time here.

The day did finish just in time for me to get to my room to stream the rugby (Bulls versus Sharks). The connection was not great so it jerked rather than streamed it’s way through to me but I did get the commentary very clearly. The frustration of the jerky connection was overcome but the end result. I love modern technology that despite being in the Netherlands where they have no idea what rugby is, I can find some arbitrary website that is streaming (probably illegally) the rugby. And it was the Supersport feed as well along with the SA adverts, half time break analysis etc.

It did make it the second day I have not put a foot outside. Though given how hard it rained (and hailed) yesterday afternoon and how hard it is raining now, I don’t think I am missing much. I did however take a photo from the lift this morning (my room is on the 11th floor and the lifts are on the outside with glass windows – not good if you don’t like heights but I quite enjoy it). The photo is what I will end with so that you have another perspective of Den Haag to enjoy.

den haag3


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