29 Apr 2019 - Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Data is clearly an integral part of what we do at Hymans Robertson. Be it with pension scheme member data, asset holdings, scheme information, or thousands of simulations of future projections, we are always on the lookout for ways to enhance what we offer to clients, to help them secure a better future. So we were naturally delighted to recently be given the opportunity to take part in DataFest, a two week festival of data intended to showcase the latest in data science, and in particular how Scotland can play a leading role in this rapidly evolving area.
DataFest itself involved a range of events across Scotland, including a two-day Data Summit, featuring speakers such as Christopher Wylie, who blew the whistle on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, events to encourage women into data science, and a Data Talent session to help match data science students to potential employers. There were also over 60 fringe events on a wide range of subjects, including one hosted by Hymans Robertson in our Glasgow office.
Twenty senior pupils from a range of local secondary schools asked to attend, and we introduced them to the wonders of data analysis, based on (anonymised) pension scheme data provided by the longevity specialists at Club Vita. This was a good fit to our commitment as a firm to support STEM initiatives, as well as the Hymans Robertson Foundation’s focus on financial education.
On arrival, the pupils were provided with a link to an online questionnaire on their own financial wellbeing, with questions such as expected salary, pension contributions and retirement age. We were able to take this data and carry out some quick analysis, reporting back at the end of the day on key observations.
Following an introduction to the potential in the wider FinTech industry, we explored the area of longevity, discussing what might influence how long people live, and what information pension schemes would typically hold.
In the first breakout session they were split into groups and tasked with validating the data files, hunting for errors in the provided data files, with help from Hymans Robertson staff.
A second breakout session then involved analysing the now clean data, calculating life expectancy values based on death numbers, and identifying trends over time. Even in the short time available, they were able to reach some interesting conclusions (for example that women live longer than men, although the gap is falling, and those in higher socio-economic groups live longer than those in lower groups).
From our perspective it was a really interesting session to run, reinforcing the need to always consider your audience (we don’t often present to school kids!). The pupils involved were enthusiastic and engaged, and hopefully learned something on the night too. Looking at their feedback, we had one individual who was now considering a new career path, although the best endorsement was the person who thought it was “not as boring as expected”, which might now be going on my CV…!
We can’t wait for DataFest 2020 now.