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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Experts wanted 

09 MARCH 2017 | RICHARD PURCELL

Richard Purcell defends the need for expertise, and suggests how actuaries can increase their value through better communication

Richard-Purcell

Emotive arguments win out over hard evidence with increasing frequency

Many of us in the UK will remember the quote from Michael Gove during last year’s referendum that we have “had enough of experts”. It summed up a more widespread trend within the current political arena where emotive arguments win out over hard evidence with increasing frequency.

Gove’s comment was really aimed at experts often getting it wrong, but it highlighted the problem when expert views are presented as certain to happen, when in fact they carry some uncertainty. Worse still, some went unchallenged. As experts in risk, I wondered if we need to improve the way we challenge and communicate our recommendations.

In this issue, Andy Cox warns against the risk of groupthink, and advocates the value of actuaries working as part of diverse, multi-disciplined teams, particularly in internal audit.


Vicky Ford, MEP for East of England, isn’t someone who needs convincing on the value we can add. In a wide-ranging interview, Ford explains her move from industry to politics, and shares the inside track on Brexit negotiations and the future of financial regulation in Europe. She calls on our profession to voice our insights on long-term risks.


The IFoA’s Risk Management Board also discusses its agenda to support actuaries in both traditional and wider risk roles, including the launch of its risk principles. It stresses the importance of communication in being a successful risk actuary. This is a view echoed by David Hare who explains business skills like empathy, erudition, and importantly, communication, are key to being a successful modern-day actuary.


By developing our communication skills and being open to challenge, perhaps we can do our bit to restore faith in experts, and even increase demand for actuaries.


Richard Purcell

Editor, @richardpurcell