1 AUGUST 2012 | PHILIP SCOTT
As my inauguration was only a few weeks ago, I am still at the stage where I am relishing the novelty of being introduced as the new president of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. It gives me a great thrill of pride to be wearing the presidential badge and to represent our actuarial profession. “Every man is a debtor to his profession,” is the oft-quoted phrase from Elizabethan author Sir Francis Bacon, and no one feels more indebted than myself. I see my role as an opportunity to give back to the profession that has been so good to me in my career.
In my column last month, I praised the work done by the immediate past president, Jane Curtis, in presiding over the first year of the Profession’s future strategy and for her dedication in taking a personal and influential part in shaping our goals. Business and political policies are frequently muddled by new managers who believe, often erroneously, that the best way of making an immediate impact is to try to change much of what has gone on before. Staterooms, town halls and board rooms are littered with Green papers detailing reform upon reform.
I do not believe this is the way forward for the strategy of the Institute and Faculty. My aim is to continue the excellent work done so far in taking the strategy forward and to maintain that momentum so that we can deliver our objectives. I appreciate the importance of continuity and assure you that having a new president does not mean starting over again. I want to build on the sound foundations and clear aims that have been laid out.
It is worth repeating our vision, which is to ‘serve the public interest by ensuring that where there is uncertainty of future financial outcomes, actuaries are trusted and sought after for their valued analysis and authority’. Our vision is a long-term one, but we have complemented this with a series of shorter-term achievable goals to ensure that we move towards our target. These cover the strands of education, licensing and regulation, member support, public affairs and promotion; and learned society and thought leadership.
We have made noticeable improvements in the way we deliver conferences, such as the Risk and Investment Conference held in June, and are making greater use of technology to engage the membership. One initiative is the launch of the professional support service on our website www.actuaries.org.uk/regulation/pages/professional-support-service-0.
Members may submit questions and get feedback on the application of:
- The Actuaries’ Code
- Actuarial professional standards
- Guidance notes
- Technical actuarial standards issued by the Board for Actuarial Standards (BAS).
We have developed our public affairs profile and this has resulted in meetings with key decision-makers. For instance, the Profession’s Alan Howard has put in excellent work on the steering committee of the Industry Working Group on Incentive Exercises, where he represented the Profession alongside the Department for Work and Pensions, the Confederation of British Industry, the Association of British Insurers, the Financial Services Authority and the National Association of Pension Funds.
We have advanced our review of the education system to ensure that our qualifications remain the gold standard for excellence and we have started to progress towards the introduction of an analyst-level qualification with initial discussions on the form and content of the syllabus.
Engagement with our members is at an all-time high, promoted through a better website, tailored communications and relevant topics, and there are now waiting lists of volunteers. There are always improvements to be made on communications, and one of the areas I wish to return to is how best to increase the debate between members and the wider public to further our knowledge and experience.
The Profession aims to inspire people through its research activities and the promotion of actuarial science. Our latest research venture, in commissioning a project on employer covenants in occupational retirement provision, reflects this. An initial budget of £40,000 has been allocated for the project.
It is now some time since we faced up to the challenge of changing how the Profession operated. I am sure that over the next year we shall be seeing more ‘fruit’ from our investment, and that the vital elements of trustworthiness and professionalism that have always been our hallmarks will be retained.