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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Actuaries are respected and trusted business people whose innovative approach to making business successful is matched by a responsibility to the public interest. Actuaries identify solutions to financial problems. They manage assets and liabilities by analysing past events, assessing the present risks involved, and modelling what could happen in future.The profession has been giving serious thought to the image that we present as a profession. This applies to the public’s perception of us as well as how we see ourselves. As a profession we need to reinforce the image in order to achieve the targets of ‘Vision and values’ by 2020. I think the image above sums up what we do, across all practice areas, and will enable us to root our work in a clear context. As the image covers different aspects – public interest, modelling the future – we can emphasise different aspects of the image according to the audience and the topic. The image does not need to be quoted verbatim – it can be used as the basis for communication. Press coverage is one way of publicising the image and reinforcing it externally. In the past, the profession’s press releases have had very safe and secure messages, for example: Actuaries to study approaches to equity release for older people. This leads the reader to think about backroom, academic research into a commercial matter. As the emphasis of the image is now on actuaries’ business skills, the same press release issued today would read: Actuaries launch investigation into equity release for older people. This gives the impression of actuaries stepping into the front line, rather than into the backroom. It also emphasises our public interest role by showing us working to right a wrong. As actuaries we need to think about how we individually present ourselves and so affect the image of the profession. I’d like to think that we’re all proud of our profession and its achievements, and that this shines through in all our dealings with other actuaries and those outside the profession. I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that we apologise for being actuaries and tell jokes against ourselves – I’ve done it myself. This could be because we feel we are perceived as too well paid compared to our colleagues, or because they might think we’re arrogant if we go on about how good we are. The image gives us a basis to start from that says clearly who we are and what we do. We can build on that with solid results and recommendations that are helpful to our business and industries. This is a new approach for the profession, so I, and the new Communications Committee, will be interested to see how it works. We would be grateful for help from members of the profession, and ask you to email goodspeak@actuaries.org.uk with examples of how actuaries have presented the new image. These can be posted on the profession’s website, so we can all learn from them. If you have examples where the image is not coming across, or where it is contradicted, please send those in too. The profession has also set up a new Internal Communications Committee, which I am chairing. We’ll be looking at enabling actuaries to access timely and relevant information from the profession. The website will play a key part, so make sure you know how to access the members-only section. Communication is a two-way process, and the profession will be spending a lot of time and effort trying to improve internal communication. But we won’t know if it’s successful or otherwise unless you tell us. So, if you get something through the post, or via email, or if you’re accessing the website, and it’s boring, or badly presented, or a waste of time – please tell me. And if it’s easy to use, relevant, and helpful – tell me that too. If you don’t, you’ll get what I think you should – and I’ll probably be wrong. I firmly believe that members of the profession have a duty to engage in two-way communication. The profession does send out a lot of information in various different forms, and as professionals we should be keeping up to date. The profession can try and make it as easy as possible to read, but some effort is required from members. Being a professional brings responsibilities, and one of them is taking an active interest in the profession. So, I can do half of the job, but you need to do the other half.

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