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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

PRESIDENTIAL AFTERWORD - The joys of continuous learning

When something doesn’t
appear to immediately affect
our daily lives, we seem to
need to hear about it several
times before it really registers. I remember
after the car number plate regime changed to
the two numeral system, I only took the
trouble to understand it when I next changed
my car. In the UK actuarial profession we are
well into the second year of our new CPD
regime, but a number of actuaries who don’t
hold a practising certificate seem not yet to
have understood the change. Yet this CPD
change is not optional. We all should have
registered our CPD category on the profession’s
website and those not in category 4
should have completed the online log for
2006/07.This demonstrates that we have
completed the CPD requirements for our
category. Those UK actuaries who have not
done so will be receiving a fairly blunt letter
from the profession, if they haven’t already.
Today it is not enough that we maintain our
expertise we must be able to point to
evidence that we do so.
Presidents don’t seem to have any problem
accumulating CPD. Quite apart from all our
committee work, we go to a lot of professional
conferences at home and abroad. In September
Nick Dumbreck and I attended the
Australian profession’s biennial conference. It
was actually held in Christchurch, New
Zealand, marking the 50th anniversary of the
New Zealand Society of Actuaries.
As part of the conference documentation,
the Australian profession issued a workbook
called the Learning Journal. In it the delegates
could take notes from the sessions they
attended, but in a structured way. The journal
invited us to answer a number of questions
such as ‘what have I learned about this topic?’,
‘what further development support could I
use in this topic?’, ‘how can developing my
competency in this topic help me reach my
goals?’, ‘who do I know who is a good role
model of competency in this topic?’, and so
on. To older actuaries this approach may sound a bit patronising, but we all need to
find ways to make CPD work for us. It is not
about form-filling for its own sake, but about
doing effective CPD and then recording it.
In October Nick Dumbreck and I also
attended the Society of Actuaries Annual
Meeting in Washington DC. The SOA also
had a method of enhancing the value of the
event for its members. This is called the Actuarial
Value Ladder, and is designed to ‘help
actuaries plan and manage their careers, provide
educational direction for members, and
assist in communicating the profession’s value
to employers’.
Each session was colour-coded according to
whether it was organisation, industry-wide, or
individual and team, and each colour code
had subdivisions. My point in going into this
detail is to emphasise that actuaries in other
parts of the world are turning demonstrating
CPD from a chore into a virtue. We must do
the same.
Structural change
Another area where many UK actuaries seem
still to have a gap relates to the structural
changes going on in the UK profession. These
changes have been covered extensively in The
Actuary and elsewhere, but perhaps many of
us will only really understand them when
they take practical effect in March next year.
Before then all members will be invited to
‘sign up’ for Practice Areas and any Member
Interest Groups which interest them. For a
quick refresher on the new structure, see
Ronnie Bowie’s article in the September issue
of The Actuary.
The changes from March will not resolve all
our structural issues. For example, when our
Joint Councils meet we have the potential for
54 actuaries to be in the room 25 Faculty
and 29 Institute, plus Caroline Instance, who
sits on both Councils. Of course we never
quite manage a full turnout, but can that
really be an efficient way to run the UK
profession’s governing body? Think of the
value of the chargeable hours being lost.
Personally I think we need to do something
about slimming down this body.
One way but not the only way to slim
down the governing body would be for the
Faculty and Institute to merge. To recap, in
my presidential address of November 2006 I
raised this issue for debate, 12 years after
Malcolm Murray had last done so in his
presidential address to the Faculty. At the
same time I launched an internet consultation
with Faculty members. This led to Faculty
Council setting up a taskforce which reported
back to the 1 October Faculty Council
meeting. This in turn has led to the start of
discussions between Faculty and Institute
leaderships, with an explicit wish from
Faculty Council that its leaders present it with
clear recommendations. I promised to keep
Faculty members informed and the taskforce
report, together with Institute Council’s ¬initial
thoughts, have been published on the
I am keen to hear any further thoughts
which Faculty members have after reading the
taskforce report. Please email me at
stewart.ritchie@aegon.co.uk. But rest assured
that the Faculty’s leadership has the results of
the November 2006 survey at the front of its
collective mind. Also rest assured that I
remain committed to keeping Faculty
members informed when there are any
significant developments. I know that Nick
Dumbreck is similarly committed on behalf
of the Institute