Maple Leaf Research Award

The Actuarial Foundation of Canada (AFC) is pleased to offer the Maple Leaf Research Award (MLRA). The MLRA is intended to encourage and support graduate and undergraduate students in their actuarial and mathematics careers. The idea for the award began in 2016, following a generous donation of $100,000 by Joe Cheng.

2023 Maple Leaf Research Award

The AFC is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2023 Maple Leaf Research Award is Cherie Ng, for her paper entitled “Controlling the Effects of Adverse Selection in Flexible Benefit Plans: A Pricing-Based Approach”. Cherie’s work was guided by FCIAs Barbara Sanders and Jean-François Bégin.

Cherie’s work investigates the flexible group benefits plan, a particular type of group benefit plan true to its name: offering its plan members the flexibility to select their coverage level annually among a set of predefined options with their own deposit rates. The potential for plans of this type to enter an adverse selection spiral, jeopardizing the sustainability of the plan, is among the problems that Cherie’s work endeavours to address. In her paper, a solution is proposed and analyzed that more effectively controls the effects of adverse selection and stabilizes the plan over time. The paper presents a general framework to model the plan, including rigorous modelling of the losses, claims and member details, and uses specific assumptions to generate closed-form expressions for the deposit rates. It finally provides an exhaustive simulation study to test the framework, concluding that the suggested deposit rates lead to a stable plan. The innovative work offers an exciting new area of opportunity for research in flex plans.

Past MLRA Winners

2021 – Zhuoxuan (Vanessa) Wu, University of Waterloo

The 2021 MLRA was given to Vanessa for her master’s thesis “On the Comparison of Distribution-Free Chain Ladder Reserve Estimates and Risk Adjustment Under the Framework of IFRS 17”. Her thesis was published in May 2020 and supervised by Ken Seng Tan.

Vanessa described her experiences as the following:

As many of you who may be struggling for the ocean of research topics or wandering on the road towards the significance of researching experience, I also “scratched my head” at an early-middle stage of my research. If conducting research is like building a house, I have worked out several sketches and teared all those up, built the ground floor and pushed it down, decorated the interior and fully renovated.

It was not until several months after I started my career that I realized how valuable this back-and-forth procedure was. Knowledge learned from research is definitely important, but what benefitted me the most from the research experience is the capability which enables me to respond to new tasks quickly and to think with broader mindset when encountering bottlenecks. Every difficulty I met during my research is like a miniature of hardship I go through during daily work, and I am better positioned to resolve these problems thanks for what I have gained from the research.

Thus, no matter you are threatened by the possible difficulties you foresee for the research or just simply wondering “do it or not”, I would like to share without hesitation that “Go for it, enjoy the journey, and you will be grateful to every effort you have taken”.

At last but not least, I would like to take this chance to thank my supervisor Professor Ken Seng Tan for the greatest support and guidance throughout the journey of my research.

Past Sponsored Research

2014 – Canadian Retirement Income: How Much Do Financial Returns Matter?

2011 – The Canadian National Retirement Risk Index: Employing Statistics Canada’s LifePaths to Measure the Financial Security of Future Canadian Seniors.

2010 – Pricing the Cost of Basic Needs for the Canadian Elderly.

2008/2006 – Stochastic Modelling Symposium Outstanding Papers. The AFC participated in the Stochastic Modelling Symposium organized by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries Committee on Investment Practice in 2006 and 2008. In both years, the AFC awarded a prize of $5,000 to the author of the paper honoured with the Outstanding Paper Award.

2004 – The Bootstrap for Calibrating Equity Models.