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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Letters: Values in action

In reply to Peter Tompkins (Letters, December 2007), I am in no way questioning the integrity of council members. From my experience of people, and of actuaries in the many parts of the world the profession has taken me, I consider it to be obvious that our interests influence our values, whether consciously or otherwise. When I moved from Legal & General to Noble Lowndes, where I was the senior actuary, I soon recognised that, as a primarily sales-oriented organization, different interests called for a reconsideration of what actuaries employed by such pension consultants were expected to do. My experience leads me to consider that such groups did more to spread awareness of occupational pensions — which was in the public interest — than other organisations with less drive. What was clear was that the different interests certainly affected values, influencing actions in turn. In 1999, the then-president asked me to submit a paper on professionalism. When researching it I asked the secretary of the Institute if I could see any council minutes about mis-selling problems; a subject rife at the time. He said there were none, which seemed strange. Later, I asked a knowledgeable senior actuary what had happened and he explained that there were no minutes because the council members could not agree. What values are and how they influence our assessment of relevant facts, influencing but not determining our actions, I have set out in my book, The Origin & Evolution of Human Values. It is highly topical because the proposed new code of conduct says specifically that it relies upon each actuary’s values to assess whether or not they are conforming with its requirements. If anyone would like to see my book then I will be glad to send them a copy.

The editorial team welcomes readers’ letters but reserves the right to edit them for publication. Please e-mail letters@the-actuary.org.uk