This interactive body map on Stuff.co.nz brings together the evidence on proven cancer causes. Choose your gender and then select from a list of risk factors such as sun exposure, smoking, and alcohol to assess your cancer risk. The percentages portrayed are “relative risks” which are different to “absolute risks”. The difference is explained in more detail here. Users should note the absence of categories such as cellphone, computer screen, and artificial sweetener. The big issues are diet, obesity, smoking, and lack of physical activity.
if you work hard in financial services you probably spend a lot of time at your desk. After you have made space for the tools of the trade, family photos, and suitable inspirational material, you may give serious consideration to a little entertainment. Awesome desk toys come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Here at Chatswood Consulting we have a couple of Nerf pistols lying around to help wake up overworked staff who may have drifted off late in the afternoon. WIRED magazine has your guide to micro and macro toys at this link.
An article caught my eye with this headline: "Turns Out Robots Don't Offer Conflict-Free Advice Either". I was surprised, because I never expected them to do so. You can read the full text of the article at this link, but it prompted me to outline the ways robo-advice is subject to conflicts (obviously) and ways bias can be present in design (also obviously) and how these could be managed with consumers in design:
If a product provider or advice business receives a payment for advice (from someone other than the client), or financial gain, which could simply be a saving, then they are subject to a conflict of interest. That need not be fatal to the provision of good advice - it simply needs to be managed. Of course, if a client has arrived and BigClever Financial's website and uses their robo-advice tool to make a fund selection decision then they know that this is always recommending BigClever Financial's products, add some disclosure about the difference in fees on the funds, and the client is at least armed with some information to consider alongside the recommendation. The same thing applies to tools which work out how much to save. Consumers have years of experience with vendors trying to up-sell them: from sweets at the check-out to vehicle dealerships. We can assume that they know the tool will suggest more, and have some tools to deal with that.
More insidious design issues arise when factors which might contribute to bias are less obvious. In the UK the Financial Services Authority identified a similar issue with comparison websites. They were worried that the comparison set could be carefully selected to make one product look particularly good. This has been seen with car rentals, hotels, and airline booking websites as well. Still less obvious is what the robo tool is doing with your information. Using it to work out suitability is a good thing. Using it to work out if you will pay more, perhaps less good.
We should always assume that, being built by humans, robo-advice tools are subject to the same conflicts as humans. They will need to be managed as such too.
Health Funds Association of New Zealand - MEDIA RELEASE from 7 March 2016.
Referred elective surgery need just the tip of the iceberg
The Health Funds Association (HFANZ) says the Government has made a good start in measuring the unmet needs of New Zealanders referred for elective surgery, but stresses that this subset of unmet need is part of a much bigger picture.
Government figures released today show thousands of New Zealanders are going without the surgery they need due to an overloaded public health system.
“While measuring referred unmet need is important, it is just a small slice of total unmet need,” HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles said.
In 2013, HFANZ conducted research which indicated that while around 110,000 New Zealanders were officially waiting for elective surgery, there were another 170,000 requiring surgery but who were not on any list.
“These are people who need surgery and may be in pain, but whose GP has not referred them on the basis that they are unlikely to meet the public sector threshold to get it within four months.
“Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is right when he says that the best way to meet unmet need is to carry out more surgeries. Growing demand for elective surgery needs to be addressed and one way of doing this is to improve access to elective surgery via health insurance,” Mr Styles said.
“New Zealand has a strong public health system that deals well with emergency, maternity, mental health and life-threatening conditions. The private health sector complements this system by relieving pressure for elective procedures and in a more timely fashion.
“Our members’ message to Government is simple: the private health sector is here to support, not undercut, the public system,” he said.
“Elective surgery wait times do not need to get worse before they get better.”
HFANZ said health insurance had funded more than 150,000 elective surgical procedures in the past year, but with increased demand, there was the capacity and the willingness to do much more.
Results from HFANZ’s 2016 research into this need will be released later this month.
This life expectancy tool on FlowingData gives you the probabilities of years left to live based on your gender and age. The graphic uses data from the Social Security Administration to simulate your possible lifetimes. That's plural. The line shows the probability you live to see your next birthday, given age and sex. Each running dot represents a possibility.
At a recent workshop I heard one participant say that they thought 'we all want advice to be a profession and if we got together for an hour or two we would all have a pretty clear idea of what that is.' Sadly, I beg to differ, and there are many different points of view.
One person will tell you that the essence of professionalism is independence, defined as freedom from conflicts of interest. In this world a truly professional financial adviser cannot receive anything other than fee income from the client. Obviously, they cannot be the employee of a financial service provider.
Another will tell you that the essence of professional advice is providing a wide-range of products - even the best product available, from a seemingly unlimited universe. There is a strong component of this in the recommendations of the Trowbridge report, perhaps unusually, many financial advisers that provide advice on insurance products feel the same way.
Our current Financial Advisers Act and AFA Code place suitability assessment at the heart of advice and have no specific prescriptions to make on either commissions or range, apart from insisting that they are both clearly disclosed. This is a view I have a lot of sympathy with. Some take it to the point of insisting on a degree-level qualification.
Some will insist on all of these, and perhaps they are the true purists: no conflicts, unlimited universe, state-of-the-art suitability testing. In such a world very little financial advice would be given. While this debate rages I occasionally look around and see how other professions are managing. An article I just read explains how one professional adviser forgot about something and it left his client severely, permanently, disadvantaged - far more than any action of omission on your part could affect your clients - his penalty? Merely censure. You can read of another professional who admits lying about all sorts of things, including employment history, work performance, and criminal past, arguing for just a two month suspension.
So maybe on one front financial advisers are already well ahead of some other professions: the penalties for failure are personal and they are real.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (USA) has grouped the top 113 causes of death into 20 categories and provides estimates for the number of people who die from each cause. The interactive graphs at this link shows these causes of death by age, gender and ethnicity.