Part of the IFoA’s purpose is to enable the profession to make a contribution to solving society’s biggest challenges. To do this, we need to increase our profile and the impact we have on a range of stakeholders.
Beyond our traditional strongholds, awareness of what actuaries do remains low. While the reasons for this are clear – our profession is small, niche and technical – our work impacts on almost everybody in some way, so it’s disappointing that our profile is seemingly only raised when negative events occur. This is partly caused by misunderstandings over what actuaries do – try typing ‘actuary definition’ into Google and see what comes back!
We need to be clearer on who we are, what we do and the value we add. To achieve that, we must be bolder, both as individuals and through the IFoA. This will require us to push ourselves outside our comfort zone – for example, spending more time talking to potential future employers of actuaries about what actuaries can do for them.
We also need to be more visible in the press and wider society, expressing our views and exerting influence on the relevant issues of the day. There have been great examples of this being done well during the past couple of years, including the work of the IFoA’s COVID-19 Action Taskforce and our COP 26 engagement and response. If we are to change perceptions and raise awareness, we need more of this great thinking and, if we get it right, I’m confident that opportunities for the profession to grow will quickly follow.
To move onto a different topic, and continuing my wellbeing theme, one of my favourite quotes on this subject comes from the 18th-century English writer Joseph Addison, who said: “Three essentials for happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.” This builds on the idea that people who pursue outward-looking life goals (such as family or altruism) experience greater happiness than those who pursue their own interests (such as career advancement or material gains). If you’re interested to hear more, watch this talk by Professor Ed Diener: youtu.be/7qSdZPAybf0.
Matt Saker is the president of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Image credit | Sam Kerr