Shortly after being offered the opportunity to join the IFoA as CEO, I made it a priority to pore over the results of the all-member survey that had just landed.
Some of the feedback was truly heartening: it was inspiring to see how excited our student population is about the professional journey ahead of them. The commitment of our volunteers, as ever, shone through. And given the importance that the IFoA places on diversity, equity and inclusion, it was encouraging to see how members from around the world come to us – and stay with us – because they believe the IFoA is a place where they can belong and grow.
I also paid close attention to the feedback that told us how we can do better. Our Fellows are not always clear about the value that IFoA membership offers, or do not value it as much as we would hope. There was a shared sentiment that the IFoA needed to modernise to reflect a rapidly changing world, and many of our members told us they weren’t confident that the IFoA understood the issues which matter to them. I was fortunate enough to start my new role as our Council was finalising the 2020-24 strategy – which combined high ambitions for the profession with a recognition that this can only be achieved if our members also value the IFoA itself.
I share the background to your feedback because it is important to show that we are listening and acting. We should acknowledge where we need to do better, but also tell you more about what we are doing to build a level of professional trust and confidence in us (and paint a clear picture of the future).
There have been examples of that progress, both big and small. Our pivot to online examinations and events in the wake of COVID-19 helped to accelerate the IFoA’s trajectory toward a digital future.
With investments being made to upgrade our IT platforms, the IFoA will become a ‘digital first’ organisation during 2022, offering a more personalised experience for members. We’ve welcomed new Affiliate members into our organisation and met with nearly 50 major employers to understand what is important to them. We are working hard with senior volunteers to make sure that the way
actuaries are regulated will protect the public in a way which is proportionate, and so our members can recognise the benefits to them of the standards to which they are held.
We know that the most important thing members value is their faith and pride in the IFoA’s premium qualification, not just because it is a public statement of the dedication, commitment and achievement required to secure it in the first place, but also because its credibility opens the door for fulfilling and rewarding careers.
A comprehensive review of our lifelong learning offering is opening up new possibilities: we are introducing banking content into the pre-Associate curriculum, and creating a banking pathway that will have its first examination in 2022. We opened registrations for a new Certificate in Data Science, which has now produced nearly 400 graduates. In the coming weeks, we will pilot a Certificate in Climate Risk and Sustainability ahead of a full launch in the autumn. Knitting all of this together is the renewed focus on building a growth mindset and developing the habit of lifelong learning across our membership. Our recent (and free of charge) thought leadership programme, with more than 20 sessions and dozens of world-class speakers, also speaks to this.
We do all of this with the brave, bold and dedicated leadership of our elected volunteer leaders. In particular, Tan Suee Chieh’s vision to revolutionise the way our members learn, and how the profession ‘does good’ in the world, has been at the fore of our strategy and change agenda. I want to personally acknowledge the purpose, courage and drive he has brought to the presidential role, and the challenge and support he has given to the IFoA to meet this vision. In years to come, I am sure we will look at the past couple of years as a turning point for the profession and the IFoA as a result.
Stephen Mann is the chief executive of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries