Women’s Equality

Monica Allanach portraitMonica Allanach was a much respected member of the actuarial community especially in her support and representation of women in the profession and as the first female Council member. She recognised the need in the 1950s for support networks and initiated informal ways in which female Fellows and students could meet.

To recognise her achievement, the IFoA and Prudential UK & Europe hosted a lecture in her name at Staple Inn Hall, London.

Monica Allanach Obituary from the Actuary

”Monica Allanach, who died on 14 September 2013 (aged 92) was blessed with many talents; and, coupled with a most pleasing personality, she used her abilities to the full to give outstanding service to the actuarial profession over a long career

Monica was educated at Wimbledon High School and joined the Prudential Assurance Company in 1938 as an actuarial trainee. Women had been admitted to the Institute since 1920; but by 1951, the year in which Monica qualified, the total number of lady actuaries of the Institute had risen to only eleven. Monica’s abilities were well recognised at the Prudential and promotions ensued. In 1970, when she was appointed Deputy Actuary, Monica became the first woman to reach management level at the company. In 1974 she was promoted to Actuary (for the UK) and held this senior position until her retirement in 1981. 

Monica’s work also embraced responsibilities elsewhere, in particular for the actuarial profession. At the Institute’s AGM in 1953 the then President, W F (Frank) Gardner, asked what more could be done to encourage women to join the profession. One outcome was that Monica initiated discussions with Pat Merriman (who had also qualified in 1951) and other lady actuaries. It was agreed that, whilst in no way wishing to create a separate section within the Institute – as had apparently happened elsewhere – informal opportunities to meet women who were actuarial students, particularly those in smaller organisations, might be helpful in resolving any problems and overcoming any sense of loneliness in the profession. A first “Tea Party”, attended by 21 people, was held at the offices of Bacon & Woodrow in 1954; and such gatherings continued (later as larger cheese and wine parties) for some 30 years. A lady actuaries dining society also emerged from those early discussions. The importance of Monica’s initiative was widely recognised. A typical reflection is given by Kathryn Willis who comments “I am grateful to her and others of her generation for proving that we can be successful actuaries – they made it so much easier for those of us who followed”.

Monica’s pride in the profession was also exemplified by the work she undertook for the Institute. After serving as a tutor and then as an examiner, Monica became the first woman to be elected to Council (1968), being Hon Secretary (1972-1974) and Vice-President (1976-1979). All this was accompanied by assiduous work on numerous Institute committees and by committee work elsewhere. The latter included a three-year appointment to an Insurance Advisory Panel which had been set up to advise the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on the exercise of powers under the Insurance Companies Act. Monica also served as Chairman of the Legislation Committee of the Life Offices Association.

Her actuarial horizons were not, however, confined to the UK. Monica liked to travel and had the good fortune to be able to attend several International Congresses. She had friends in various countries and often went to Denmark to meet lady actuaries there. In 1964 Monica submitted a paper entitled “The treatment of expenses in the calculation of ordinary branch premiums” to the London & Edinburgh Congress. The paper was part of the course of reading for Institute examinations over a number of years.

After retiring from the Prudential, Monica assisted the Insurance Ombudsman in an advisory capacity and later became a non-executive director of Hambro Guardian Assurance. She also continued with her long standing work – as Hon Treasurer and a Board Member – for the Friends of the Girls Public Day School Trust. Then too there were greater opportunities to pursue other interests – especially tennis (originally as a player but later as an avid spectator during the Wimbledon fortnight) and motoring to Cornwall for extended holidays. But Monica’s interest in the profession never waned. She continued regularly to attend actuarial dining clubs and was a member of the Worshipful Company of Actuaries. In July 1981 she became a Freeman of the City of London, exactly 70 years from the time when her (maternal) grandfather had become a Freeman.

Monica’s father sadly died when she was only four years old; and Monica readily acknowledged the debt she owed to her mother who, until she died in 1972, ably supported and encouraged Monica in her career. Likewise, those of us who had the privilege of knowing Monica acknowledge the debt we owe to her. We shall remember her with respect and gratitude for the example which she set through the competence and thoroughness of her professional work and for the kindness she showed to others.”