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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Presidential afterword

It is amazing how quickly the last two years have passed. I have certainly not been at a loose end looking for things to do either on the home or the international fronts during my presidency of the Faculty. I am sure that a number of past presidents will say that their period of office was different. I have no doubt about that, but no matter how much Michael Pomery and I considered where our period of office as presidents might be different, the reality turned out to be something else again. I am referring of course to the Morris review of the UK actuarial profession, the government’s acceptance of the recommendations from the review, and the setting-up of the independent Board for Actuarial Standards (BAS), under the chairmanship of Paul Seymour, within the Financial Reporting Council. The dust on this is beginning to settle, with BAS taking on the responsibility for setting actuarial technical standards with effect from 19 May 2006. There is still some work that needs to be done on the transition front but this is well in hand. I firmly believe that going forward the profession will benefit from the work of BAS and the FRC, with the outcome that the profession will be even stronger than before, resulting in an increased level of confidence in and respect for actuaries by the government, regulators, and users of actuarial services.
The strategy review of the profession is also moving forward at a pace. The structure, management, and resources for the implementation programme are well in hand and seven work streams have been established to develop each of the main strands of the strategy. This work will extend beyond Michael Pomery’s and my term of office. I am, however, delighted that the incoming presidents are 100% committed to taking this forward and as well as being the programme sponsors they will also lead the Programme Board. It is likely that the implementation will be incremental. I hope that there might also be some ‘quick wins’ that some of the work streams will be able to identify and implement fairly soon. However, being realistic I anticipate that the structural changes within the profession are unlikely to be able to be put in place before the sessional year 2007/2008. This is another important change for the profession. I know that the incoming presidents are committed to keeping you advised of progress.

Foreign fields
Although a lot of my time has been devoted to the home front I have also been able to spend some time visiting and meeting a number of our members overseas. There have been many opportunities through regular meetings of the International Actuarial Association and the Groupe Consultatif to represent the UK profession. I have also been invited to talk at a number of the conferences of overseas actuarial associations. During the two years of my presidency both the Norwegian and Swiss actuarial associations celebrated their centenaries and, while it was delightful to attend these wonderful occasions, it was doubly so to meet Georg Harbitz and Hans Buhlmann respectively who are two of the oldest honorary fellows of the Faculty. During my presidency I have visited the following countries and met many fellows of the Faculty: Greece, South Africa, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, USA, Canada, India, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Cyprus, Brazil, Finland, France, and Australia. During these visits I have realised that many of the issues that the UK profession is dealing with are also being closely monitored by our sister overseas associations.
In my recent visit to Australia in April I was very pleased to be asked by the Institute of Actuaries of Australia (IAAust) to participate in a senior actuaries’ forum in both Sydney and in Melbourne. The senior actuaries’ forum is a new initiative of the IAAust. Attendance is restricted to the senior actuary of each firm and provides a focal point for those actuaries to meet and to discuss issues that are of topical interest to them and their respective firms. The intention is to meet quarterly in both Sydney and Melbourne. The first of these meetings was held at the beginning of April and the presentations and discussions centred around the future of the actuarial profession and the code of professional conduct. This is very relevant in Australia given the new code of professional conduct the IAAust has recently introduced, but equally could have been relevant in the UK given the changes that we shall need to make to our own PCS to reflect the changes in ethical and technical standard-setting. I found it interesting that the IAAust acknowledges that the senior actuary of a firm has an important professional governance role to play in ensuring that actuaries in their firms are aware of their responsibilities as actuaries under the IAAust’s code of professional conduct. This seems a very sensible approach and one I would have thought the UK profession could consider in the overall context of ‘monitoring compliance’.

The Faculty’s 150th anniversary celebrations have been progressing well and although we have now passed the actual anniversary date our celebrations will continue throughout the year, culminating with the gala ball in Edinburgh in December. I thank all of those who have organised and participated so far in the events. Our celebrations would not have been so successful without you. In ending I would like to make a special mention and send thanks to a group of fellows of the Faculty in Australia who organised a 150th anniversary dinner in Melbourne for Faculty fellows and friends. This really was an exceptional evening and I was delighted to have been able to attend and represent the Faculty so many miles from our home of Maclaurin House in Edinburgh. My sincere thanks to Ron Hunter, Iain Ross, Michael Howard, Lawrence Cohn, David Dickson, and of course their ‘other halves’ for all of their hard work in making this evening so successful and for making my trip to Australia so memorable. (See also p19.)
I thank you all for your support during the past two years.
- Harvie Brown