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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Turning uncertainty into opportunity


In political terms, we certainly are living in interesting and unpredictable times. As a profession we have spent the past five years building our public affairs reputation through helping policymakers understand uncertainty.

Derek Cribb
I expect the doors of Whitehall and Westminster to remain firmly open for public interest bodies

As such, the recent political events in the UK present us with an ideal opportunity to influence, inform and be heard in the public policy debate – truly addressing the challenges of our charter to act in the public interest and promote actuarial science.

Before looking to the future, I think it is worth reflecting on how the IFoA’s approach to public affairs has matured over the past five years. 

We should review whether it has raised the profile and reputation of the IFoA and our members with key policy and political stakeholders.

As a profession that has a strategic objective to be heard in public policy debates, we have enjoyed some high-profile successes in recent years. 

Our ‘informing the debate’ around Scottish independence drew praise from the political hierarchy on both sides of the debate. Our Brexit research helped inform media commentary, and our debates stimulated lively discussion and attracted interest from far outside the profession.

Turning now to the recent ‘snap’ general election in the UK, the policy narratives worked up by our policy team, in conjunction with the practice boards, gave us the collateral to undertake a timely analysis of the main party manifestos and cross reference them with IFoA policy positions. As well as making this analysis available to our members, it was also circulated to all prospective parliamentary candidates. For those that were successfully elected, this will provide them with an interesting perspective from a pubic interest body on key policy issues that will undoubtedly be debated during the next parliament. And for those that weren’t successful? Well, often, they will find themselves as special advisers to ministers or working in think tanks, so again a helpful brief and contact from a respected profession. Circulating IFoA analysis is not enough, and we are already following up with ministerial appointments, and will be re-establishing contact with relevant parliamentary select committees as and when their memberships are announced. 

For those of you who recently attended our Protection, Health and Care, and the joint Risk, Investment and Pension Conferences, you would have seen our policy team promoting our public affairs work. These conferences provided an excellent insight into which policy issues the wider membership think the IFoA should be engaging in with politicians and policymakers. It probably comes as no surprise that fundamental reform of the social care system came top of the list at the Protection, Health and Care Conference. While at the Risk Investment and Pensions Conference, intergenerational fairness came top of the list of priorities, along with social care. Climate change, pensions freedoms, pensions taxation and data science also proved popular.

But what of the future? With a hung parliament in the UK, I expect the doors of Whitehall and Westminster to remain firmly open for public interest bodies like the IFoA to be heard on important matters of public policy. For the IFoA and its public affairs activity, this uncertainty is a real opportunity that needs to be seized with both hands.

If you have a passion for public policy and are interested in what the IFoA is doing in this space, then why not think about volunteering for the Policy and Public Affairs Committee? To find out about upcoming opportunities, contact Paul Reynolds, our director of public affairs and policy, at paul.reynolds@actuaries.org.uk

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