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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Stronger and smarter


Derek Cribb encourages those with fresh viewpoints to think about standing for election to Council

It is important to recognise volunteering or being well known in your local actuarial community is unlikely to be enough 

to get you elected

Those who have been to Staple Inn may have noticed the window that carries the quote from Francis Bacon: “I hold every man a debtor to his profession.” While I wouldn’t disagree with this view, I do think it’s important that those who volunteer for the IFoA get something back in return that goes beyond repayment of a debt. In search of enlightenment I asked Cynthia Yuan, one of our Council members, what she gained from her experiences. Her response was exactly what I hoped to hear: “It can be intense on Council days, but it’s also good professional development and fun too. It’s a great opportunity to be part of the governing body and help shape the future of my profession. 

A satisfying experience and worth the effort.” It is a very exciting time to be a member of the profession, even more so to be a member of the governing Council of the IFoA. Demand for actuarial skills continues to grow in increasingly diverse industries and locations. This throws up challenges as to how we best deliver the Charter objectives of promoting and regulating actuarial science in an ever-changing world.


How do we optimise the new business opportunities for actuarial science, make sure actuarial science remains relevant, and make sure that the IFoA, and its members in established fields, do not get left behind? Council members are responsible for making sure we have the right strategy in place to best manage these risks and opportunities

While the current Council membership has been one of the most diverse I have ever seen by a number of measures, there is always scope to become even more diverse and representative of the IFoA’s membership. 

We have all heard the adage ‘diversity makes us stronger’, indeed, in 2014, this was the theme of Nick Salter’s presidency. Taking this a step further, Katherine W Philips stated in Scientific American that it also makes us smarter, explaining: “This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.”  

I couldn’t agree more; I have seen how a broader Council membership can be so valuable to the IFoA, helping the organisation develop effective strategies while remaining balanced and accountable to the membership. 

So, do you want a strong and smart IFoA? This is entirely in the hands of the membership. Those of you that are part of under-represented communities – be it by geography, practice area or other characteristic – I ask you to think about putting yourself forward for election. You will not only help drive a stronger and smarter profession, but I hope you will experience the same benefits extolled by Cynthia. For those of you who are not in a position to stand, I encourage you to make the most of your right to vote. The process is simple and it’s your chance to have a say in your profession’s future.

If I’ve interested you in standing for election, then be warned that every year it becomes tougher and more competitive to be elected. Indeed, last year Council roles were oversubscribed threefold. If you are going to stand then it’s important to recognise that volunteering experience or being well known in your local actuarial community is unlikely to be enough to get you elected, especially if you are in an under-represented community. It is important to promote your candidacy, and to use your wider network alongside social and business media to let people know you are standing. It is high risk to assume your colleagues will somehow find out and cast their votes without you taking some action.

I hope many of you will consider putting your names forward for election. We are a professional body proud of our broad global membership. We promote actuarial science widely and encourage those interested to join us, whatever their backgrounds, and it would be a keen measure of success to see that diversity reflected in our Council. We expect this year to be another hotly contested one, but one which, I hope, will continue to deliver a strong and smart Council.

For details go to www.actuaries.org.uk/becoming-a-council-member, or email kimberley.russell@actuaries.org.uk 

Derek Cribb is the chief executive of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries