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Under development

The Blufftop Framework.  Cash flow projection models are already in wide use within insurance companies, and currently emerging regulatory and accounting requirements will turn their use into a staple of actuarial practice.  Several commercial modeling systems are available, but most are still evolving to support these new requirements in an optimal way, or are closed systems that do not allow user customization.  The "Blufftop Framework" refers to a component-based design for open models, and to a model-development platform based on that design.  The design is based on Strommen's 1997 NAAJ paper "An Object-Oriented Design for Dynamic Simulation Models".

Blufftop LLC is already using the Blufftop Framework for research projects, while polishing the user interface.  With an expected public release in  2017, the Blufftop Framework will feature the following:

  • A model-development environment that includes integrated and ready-made modules for scenario generation, management of tables and assumptions, investment simulation, output management and flexible report generation.
  • A data-driven product definition facility that includes a source code generator to write much program code for a product simulation module, leaving blanks to fill in formulas for contract values.
  • Implementation of the "one-model" concept, facilitating support of multiple actuarial functions (valuation, cash flow testing, corporate projections, etc.) using the same interface to the product simulation module for a contract form. 
  • A facility to trace dependencies among the variables and formulas defined by the user.
  • Direct use of the C# language and the Microsoft .NET platform.  This not only provides complete flexibility to do any kind of customization, but allows models developed using the Blufftop Framework to be packaged for support by IT staff using a tool familiar to them: Microsoft Visual Studio. (Versions that use other languages such as Visual Basic or C++ are under consideration.)
  • A unique internal design that enables faster calculation and reduced memory requirements compared to some other commercial models.

In its first release the Blufftop Framework will essentially provide an empty model shell in which the user must define the insurance product and required assumptions.   This blank-sheet-of-paper approach has some advantages:

  • It can shorten the learning curve dramatically compared to competing model development platforms with their long lists of product options and features that the user must understand. 
  • It can alleviate the feeling of using a black box.  
  • It provides complete flexibility to model any possible product and any accounting treatment.  This framework could be adapted to model liabilities of a bank, a property/casualty insurer, a continuing care retirement facility, a pension plan, or any collection of financial liabilities that is managed in connection with a portfolio of invested assets.

A disadvantage is that it is a burden to start from a blank sheet of paper when specifying an insurance product, its data requirements, and the calculations that define policy values.   Later releases of the Blufftop Framework will include insurance product templates to start from.

If you want to know more about the Blufftop Framework, let us know of your interest by sending an email to support@blufftop.com.


Suggestions?

If you have an idea or request for a software product that would help with your actuarial work, please send us a note at support@blufftop.com.  Some ideas on our to-do list include:

Table manager extensions:  The table manager can be extended so that it not only retrieves values from tables but also calculates standard actuarial functions based on those values.

Economic scenario generators:  A wide variety of "textbook" formulations of scenario generators exists, and actuaries may find it both educational and useful to have implementations of several of them.  While Blufftop has no plans to offer calibration services, we might offer generators along with tools that users could apply to do their own basic calibrations.

Actuarial functions for Excel:  Since so much actuarial work is done in Excel, it seems odd that there is not already an add-in for Excel that provides a variety of actuarial functions.  We envision an inexpensive add-in that actuaries would find indispensible.  Any suggestions for the list of functions to be made available to Excel would be appreciated!

C++ library code:  Other software developers that want to use the EconSML and XtbML data formats may find it useful to purchase a C++ library that supports them.  No fully tested native C++ libraries that provide object-oriented access to files in these formats have previously been publicly available.