Attracting people from diverse backgrounds is one part of making sure our profession is open to everyone. The other part is ensuring that they feel they belong in the profession and to the sectors in which they work – as they journey to qualify and then go on to have, hopefully, flourishing careers.
There is a lot of evidence that social background has one of the biggest impacts on life opportunities, and the challenges are even higher for those thinking about professions or careers in financial services. The UK has one of the developed world’s poorest social mobility rates. For our profession to be sustainable, we need to support all our stakeholders in making it warm and welcoming.
On a practical level, we are working with organisations to build a network of partner employers with whom we will develop joint plans to support skills development, recruitment and diversity. Most recently, we supported Aon’s work on social inclusion and future actuaries. We are also working with Aon and Target Jobs to find the Future Actuary Undergraduate of the Year from UK universities.
To help us to understand the full picture, we reached out to employers to ask what support they give IFoA learners, and had feedback from more than 140 around the world. We were encouraged to see at least 90% have a formal study programme in place, with most also offering exam or study mentoring and support towards the cost of study materials. To this end, we will soon be launching an Employer Hub on our website, which will provide information, advice and guidance to current and prospective employers of IFoA actuaries.
The results of this activity will only be seen over time. The starting point, of course, is to acknowledge that everyone is entitled to the same levels of ambition, regardless of social background. I doubt there is a single actuary who disagrees.
Stephen Mann is the chief executive of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries