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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Actuaries on top

Welcome to our first print edition for 2010. Reuters recently reported that being an actuary is the best job to have in 2010. I am sure many of you will agree. Actuaries are contrasted with oil rig roustabouts, who sit at the opposite end of the scale. Cited as some of the merits of being an actuary are that it is a relatively sedentary job with little stress, a good working environment and positive prospects for both employment and income growth.

The first quarter of the year is associated with performance and hopefully remuneration reviews for most of us. The failure of large corporations at the end of the noughties led to incessant commentary about the manner in which financial services professionals (mostly bankers) are remunerated. Relying on statistics such as the average payout per employee can mislead as it only requires a few individuals to receive handsome sums to skew the numbers. The public outrage should perhaps be unleashed ‘in isolation’ upon those lucky few.

Some argue that bankers’ bonuses are absurd and obscene, particularly in light of the financial crisis. Others argue that if an individual adds several million to the profits of a firm, is it unfair to reward them accordingly? I would venture that those on the receiving end of the bonuses would prefer not to engage in that particular debate. Bonuses were expected to significantly reduce in a ‘bust’ environment, however, little seems to have changed in that respect. It appears that it will take more than a global recession to dislodge this well-embedded culture.

Our key theme for this edition is careers and enterprise risk management (ERM). ERM is particularly topical as this spring’s examination sitting sees the introduction of the Subject ST9 (Enterprise Risk Management Specialist Technical) examination and the new Chartered Enterprise Risk Actuary (CERA) credential — see Lindsay Smitherman’s article on page 30 for further details.

Marjorie Ngwenya