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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Letters: Nick Dumbreck

Although more than two-thirds of the votes cast were in favour of the proposal, Andrew Smith has not been elected as a fellow of the Institute. The election was held in accordance with the Institute’s bye-laws, which rightly set a high hurdle for the exceptional event of conferring fellowship on someone who has not completed the exams, and Institute Council will, of course, accept the result. I do not wish this episode to pass, however, without recording my own personal disappointment at this outcome, and my concern about the implications for the profession.

I do not in any way underestimate the importance of the actuarial examinations — they remain the fairest basis on which to award qualifications. I also accept that there are others who would make worthy fellows but who have, for a variety of reasons, been unable to finish the exams. In my view, the case for treating Andrew Smith differently stands out because of the depth of his contribution (as reflected in his three Institute prizes), the breadth (there is no major area of actuarial work in which he does not have a significant involvement), and the high regard in which he is held internationally.

The likelihood of a significant contraction in some of our traditional areas of work over the next 10 years — particularly UK defined-benefit pensions — remains high. Actuaries whose skill-sets are heavily reliant on what was in the examination syllabus 10 or more years ago, and on knowledge of legislation, may find life getting tougher. On the other hand, the spectacular risk management and modelling failures in the financial sector in recent months have given us a golden opportunity to broaden the scope of our activities.

Andrew Smith has probably done more than anyone else to help ensure that the Profession keeps abreast of modern financial techniques, and having him as a fellow member of the Institute would have strengthened our hand in promoting the role of actuaries in the wider financial world. That chance has now been missed — let’s not pass up any more opportunities to help secure the future of our profession.

Nick Dumbreck
11 March 2008


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