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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Leading the way 


A year ago, I closed my presidential address with these words from Thomas Edison: “If we do what we are capable of, we will astound ourselves”, and subsequently I have focused on what the IFoA can do to enhance our collective thought leadership.

Colin Wilson
Actuarial thinking can add value to big challenges such as climate change, big data, the ageing population

This past year has been about building on the foundations we already have and continuing to progress our profession through thought leadership, and looking at how actuarial thinking can add value to the big challenges facing society, such as climate change, big data, the ageing population and the future of healthcare. 

We launched our Intergenerational Fairness Bulletins in January. The first bulletin tackled climate change, the second, launched in May, looks at pensions and the third bulletin, due for release in the autumn, will focus on health. 

These bulletins are bringing together academics, think tanks and thought leaders from across a wide range of areas, including financial services and public policy, in order to present an all-encompassing perspective that also highlights the role of actuaries in understanding the long-term implications of the challenges in public policy.

I hope that in the coming years, bringing different professions together to work will be a common occurrence and we will see actuaries, lawyers, doctors, academics and other professions all working together.

This is already happening in the work on antimicrobial resistance, the subject of our recent Spring Lecture, given by Dame Sally Davies. Actuaries, scientists and medical professionals have joined together in the IFoA’s Antibiotic Resistance Working Party. 

The past year has also seen the launch of Delta magazine, recent winner of MemCom’s ‘Best relaunch/New Magazine’ award, for policymakers, business leaders and thought leaders around the world.

Delta is designed to demonstrate to decisionmakers and others outside the profession how actuaries can help them. 

A significant step for our profession was being invited to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2017, where global top leaders discuss world development. Nico Aspinall, chair of the IFoA Resource and Environment Board, was invited to speak alongside the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), providing an actuarial perspective on integrated risk management; and a joint webinar we held on this topic has been WBCSD’s most popular webinar ever. 

Another significant component of our work on thought leadership is from the Actuarial Research Centre. Through this, the IFoA and its partners sponsor major research programmes, which are undertaken by academia and industry in collaboration. This is in addition to nearly 100 research projects being carried out at any one time by working parties of our members and others.

Together, these initiatives represent three important actions that comprise thought leadership; convene, create, and communicate – between them demonstrating the importance of collaboration.

Colin Wilson is the president of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries