Barely six months ago, pandemics were the preserve of a small group of experts.
Now, COVID-19 and its consequences are all too pervasive.
We see the distressing effects on the afflicted and those working hard to save them. Beyond that frontline, so many aspects of our world have profoundly changed, from the way we interact with those closest to us to the outlook for the global economy.
As we adapt to this dramatic change, the work of the actuarial profession remains as important as ever. Indeed, our work over many years in asset-liability matching, scenario modelling and risk management has meant our employers and clients have faced this crisis with a degree of resilience.
Some actuaries, particularly those involved in pandemic risk, are now at the forefront of understanding COVID-19. Many more are involved in supporting clients and employers dealing with the varied implications. Balance sheets of insurer and pensions schemes are being revisited; mortality and morbidity assumptions are being revised; operations risk plans are being implemented and adapted – and many of us are leading organisations and guiding colleagues through these difficult times.
Throughout all of this, the IFoA’s priority has been to support our members, as we ourselves have rapidly been adapting to new ways of working. Since mid-March, our 170 employees around the world have been working full-time from home, many with caring responsibilities and with little notice to prepare for this arrangement. Our members have been conflicted about what this means for exams – some assert they should be cancelled entirely, others are determined they should continue. We have pivoted to offer many of our events via virtual platform, rather than face-to-face – a change that we may have made eventually, but that COVID-19 has accelerated. As we continue to learn and adapt to new ways of working and providing member value, we are grateful for your patience and support.
In the absence of full information, our leadership (both elected and Executive) has been presented with many difficult choices, and we won’t begin to assume that we’ve got them all right. What we are sure of is that our principles which guide those choices – support for our members, care for our people, a desire to keep learning and growing, a promising future for both the IFoA and the profession – have not wavered.
Despite the uncharted territory we have entered, we look ahead with optimism. The IFoA has a rich history and, we believe, a promising future. We have been heartened by countless stories of people showing one another kindness and support. We have been inspired by how our members have risen to challenges, adapted to new ways of attending events or sitting exams, and shared their feedback on how the IFoA can continue to improve these services.
As we make choices, we continue to place priority and emphasis on how we stay in touch with you, how we ensure a sense of community and support during this period of change, and how we focus the IFoA and its work for the benefit of all our people.
We will continue to make the very best decisions we can for you – our members, our stakeholders and our people – and hope those choices will lead us into a bright future. Thank you, as ever, for your support of, and trust in, the IFoA.
John Taylor is the president of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Stephen Mann is the chief executive of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries