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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Student page: Points of view

While studying, your main priority is to get through your exams. Whether a student with the Faculty or the Institute, we sit the same exams, are marked by the same examiners and struggle to succeed in the same way. So why should we care if the Faculty and Institute merge? Katie Lowe of Mercer and Joe du Toit of Friends First Group explain the two sides of this important debate.
Jen and Jean

Katie Lowe
Before I joined the Faculty Council last year, like many others, I was concerned about a loss of traditions and heritage. However, as I have learnt more about the proposals and the status quo, I have become convinced that a merger is the best way forward for the Profession. The vision of both existing Councils is to create a more efficient, dynamic and forward-looking profession to better serve its members. Although the profession is effectively run as one body in most respects, including all finances, member support services and events, the governance is cumbersome. The Councils of both organisations meet separately and then jointly, with many decisions and discussions undertaken by the 57 members of the Joint Council. The proposed merged body would have one smaller body, the Senate, allowing decisions to be taken more speedily and efficiently.

Feedback also suggests that the outside world is confused by their being two actuarial bodies in the UK. A merger would allow us to have a stronger ‘brand’ and potentially higher influence. These practical arguments may not alleviate the concerns felt by many members, that history and traditions will somehow be lost if the Faculty and Institute merge. As a member of the Faculty, I am extremely proud of its history but I do not believe that history is lost because an organisation changes. A merged body will have the history of both the Faculty and Institute, and both Councils are making significant efforts to ensure that the achievements and traditions of both will be honoured.

There is also concern that the high levels of involvement in the profession of Scottish actuaries will be eroded. To prevent this, the proposed structure will include a Scottish Council, well represented on the Senate, which will provide a focus for Scottish actuaries to continue the existing vibrant community and pursue actuarial activities.

In summary, the immediate impact on you will be limited, but longer term you will benefit from being a member of a more efficient professional body which can respond quickly to changes.

Joe du Toit
Students’ actuarial careers still lie ahead. So, whatever affects fellows is of even greater concern to us. Independent local bodies are the trend, for instance, South African and Irish actuaries gradually ‘de-merging’ from their UK parent bodies, while strengthening co-operation in the International Actuarial Association. The merger would halve the UK’s representation where globalisation plays out: IAA and Groupe Consultatif (GC).

The Faculty continues to attract students despite joint examinations and easy transfer to the Institute. Had students “cared for the merger”, Faculty student intake would have trickled to insignificance, and students would have transferred to the Institute. The merger proposal entails Institute closure, her members shoved into the Faculty, and the latter’s Charter amended – based on technical motivation to base the merged body on the Faculty Charter.

The merger goals are achievable at lower cost by voluntary membership transfer. Students who have chosen the Institute over the Faculty, and had the choice of transferring to the Faculty at any time, would have their initial choice, and current choice to remain in the Institute, overruled by the merger. Had this been fully disclosed, the outcome of the Institute’s in-principle vote might have been rather different.

Trends toward enhanced Scottish devolution necessitate a Scottish actuarial body. For example, Spanish Catalonia, having devolved government, has an independent actuarial body in full membership of the GC. The token ‘Scottish Council’ will carry less clout than, for instance, the Chartered Accountants who have an independent Scottish body.

The merger provides for a ‘Scottish Council’ but no ‘English Council’. Why should ‘Scottish Council’ members influence matters relating solely to England, while the rest has to defer to ‘Scottish Council’ on solely Scottish matters (the West-Lothian question)? The Faculty’s consultation survey secured less than the requisite two-thirds majority for merger on agreed terms, yet both Councils continue to press on.

Concerned Faculty and Institute members established FIDELIS to restore balance to the merger debate. Members from three continents include former Faculty presidents and former vice-presidents of both the Faculty and Institute.

The name FIDELIS is derived from the Faculty motto ad finem fidelis – faithful to the end – and signifies that members are faithful to the continued existence of both the Faculty and Institute as the world’s first actuarial bodies from which many others have sprung. For more information on the merger, see www.actuaries.org.uk/members/merger_discussion and www.fidelisdefence.com.