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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Actuaries united in South Africa

The recent International Congress of Actuaries (ICA) was a showcase for all that is good in our profession. Irrespective of country, language, discipline or age, actuaries came together to learn and draw strength from one another. All enjoyed a camaraderie that was much enhanced by the excellent hospitality of our South African hosts. This is a momentous year for our colleagues in South Africa — and not just because of the ICA and the FIFA World Cup! This year will see the first successful students who have taken the South African Actuarial Qualification, a further sign of the growing maturing and independence of the actuarial profession in that country. We wish them every success.

The Congress offers an opportunity to learn of the progress made and challenges faced by other actuarial societies around the world. The large associations typically share our three goals of member support, public confidence and marketing our skills. The Congress also offered us all an opportunity to benchmark our progress in achieving these goals.

The Profession’s constantly evolving education and examination system remains much admired for its breadth, depth and quality. We will be working towards being the second body (after the Society of Actuaries) to be granted the power to award the global Chartered Enterprise Risk Actuary (CERA) qualification within the next few months.

Like our overseas colleagues, we are increasingly using different media to reach our members: webinars, Facebook and targeted emails, as well as our well-established channels: conferences, seminars, The Actuary and so on. Our new website will offer our members new levels of accessibility to our material. Engagement with our members remains very strong despite the huge increase in membership numbers.

There is much interest in our work with the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) in respect of standard setting and oversight. I am proud of the progress the Profession has made in the last two years in building a strong, mutually respectful relationship with the FRC. The importance of the ‘public interest’ and professional ethics has never been greater. It is encouraging that the Profession is widely seen to be very much on the front foot in these matters.

The ‘actuarial brand’ remains very strong in our core areas across the world, but we have much to do to expand its reach and to demonstrate that we have breadth as well as depth. There are several strands to the work needed to achieve this expansion. First, we need to have an authoritative voice on these matters where we wish to be regarded as an expert. Our revitalised research effort will shortly begin to produce the sort of thought leadership pieces that will allow us to do this. Second, we have begun a project that, if the findings of the initial pilot are approved by the Joint Councils, will see the Profession investing heavily in making the actuarial skill-set and qualifications known to a much wider set of stakeholders in the risk management area. Where necessary, this may also involve creating some re-skilling opportunities so that we can provide the supply to meet the demand for actuaries that we hope to create.

This will be my last column as president of the Faculty of Actuaries. Notwithstanding the profile that the merger discussions have had, the vast majority of my time as president has been spent working on the initiatives described above or in meeting as many members of our great profession as possible. It has been a pleasure and privilege to have had this opportunity and I am grateful to all the Profession’s members and staff for the support you have shown me.

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Delegate view
Marian Elliott provides her own reflections on the ICA 2010 online at www.the-actuary.org.uk/873829