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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Driving blind

SO HERE WE ARE THEN. I trust you are all fullyrecovered from the millennium celebrations!I trust also that your IT systems wereall bug-free (somehow justifying themassive spend and business disruption) and thatyou are enjoying the luxury of getting on withsome new developments now that Y2K testing isover.Most of us probably took the opportunity overthe year-end to reflect on the previous year andlook at our lives with a fresh perspective. And, withits being a special year-end, we were all subjectedto an additional dose of history and crystal ballgazing.I suppose it was inevitable that there wasmuch more emphasis on the past than the future,since there is more archive material readily availablefor editors and programmers to delve into.Perhaps there should have been a slot for someactuarial predictions!I, for one, would have welcomed some guidanceas to where we are heading. Setting aside for themoment the bigger questions (population growth,global warming, the technological advances thatwill change our lives), it is perhaps worth dwellinga little closer to home – whither the actuarial profession?In 1999 the profession completed itsVision and Values project and we began to seesome changes occurring (don’t tell me you hadn’tnoticed). For some years now we have been ‘makingfinancial sense of the future’. But how accurateis our vision of the future? Do most of us look nofurther forward than the next set of financialresults, the next deadline, the next PIA visit? Lookingforward 50 years, where do we see stakeholderpensions, ISAs, occupational schemes, with-profitscontracts? What will actuaries be doing? (It’s quitehard to describe what we do now!) History is litteredwith failed predictions, but there is alwaysroom for more. So if you have any great ideas,write in so that we can place them on record.I will make one smallprediction. The pace ofchange will continueto accelerate. Thoseactuaries who are willingto embrace change,develop new skills,move into new areas,challenge their knowledgebase, and take onnew technologies willdo well. Perhaps ourCPD system shouldfocus on the explorationof new ideas,with no credit givenfor attendance at life, pensions, general insurance,or investment conferences unless something trulynew is being discussed. By new I mean mindsetchallenging,rather than a further revision to guidancenotes, or an update from a working party onwhat it has achieved since its previous update!As a profession we are probably suffering fromour success. The market for qualified and partqualifiedactuaries (as evidenced in this issue of TheActuary with its focus on recruitment) is very buoyant.In this environment there is little pressure onus to look outside our familiar environment fornew work and, indeed, we are at risk of looking tooexpensive to those who are not familiar with ourwork. Perhaps we need a fundamental change inour traditional market to encourage us to spreadour wings and widen our sphere of influence.Fundamental change might emanate from thecurrent discussions on monitoring compliancewith professional guidance. If you want to makesure that the process which emerges maintains anappropriate balance between quality control andallowing the exercise of professional judgement,now is the time to make your voice heard.Whatever happens, change will be the name ofthe game, so watch out those of you who can’tfind time to lift your eyes from the desk!