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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Situation vacant

I WISHED FROM AN EARLY AGE TO BE THEeditor of an actuarial magazine. Otherboys would spend their eveningsplaying football, riding their BMXs,and putting nails under the tyres ofcars, while I would be inside writingarticles about longevity and listeningto a gramophone recording ofAlexander Finlaison’s PresidentialAddress. So when SIAS appointed meeditor of The Actuary magazine inJanuary 2005, it was the fulfilment ofa boyhood dream. A dream fromwhich I am shortly, however, about towake, because my tenure comes to anend in December. I shall therefore tellyou a bit about the role in the hopethat it will encourage you to apply forit. It is a very satisfying role, and I willbe reluctant to relinquish the £85,000per annum salary that attaches to it,but all things must pass.The most challenging part of editingthis magazine is writing this columneach month. The difficulty isthinking of a subject that is sufficiently general, bearingin mind that we have become a very far-flung profession(although there are some who would fling usfurther). We have practitioners in pensions, life insurance,general insurance, investment, internationalbenefits consulting, healthcare consulting, banking,and ‘risk management’. Also, 40% of our readers arebased overseas – mainly in South Africa, Ireland, Australia,and India – and presumably would not welcometoo strong a UK focus in the editorial.The other sections that the editor ‘does’ include theintroduction on the contents page – around 200 wordssummarising the rest of the magazine – and editingthe letters. The latter usually involves some basic subeditingand thinking of titles; most correspondentstitle their letters ‘Letter to The Actuary’ which, whilepertinent, might begin to pall if all the letters were thustitled.While the editor does not write the rest of the magazine,he or she reads it before it is published andmakes amendments where necessary. In this you canreally get as involved as you wish – you can flay thedrafts to pieces with a blue pencil, or sign everythingoff without amendment. But since you must shoulderpart if not all of the blame if anything goes wrong, youought at least to read carefully. I like to browse throughthe draft articles each month, after our features editorshave knocked them into shape, asking myself a fewbasic questions. Is the opening paragraph arresting?Is the conclusion conclusive? Are there any potentiallylibellous statements in any of the articles? If not,should I put some in myself?The news pages are compiled by our news editor andby the boards of the Actuarial Profession. The best bitis ‘From the world of general insurance’, in which themonth’s various disasters are dissected in meticulousactuarial fashion. You wonder what the Book of Exoduswould read like if the GI Board had been tasked withwriting it:‘Last month witnessed the turning to blood of all theworld’s rivers, accompanied by numerous swarms offrogs, lice, and locusts, and sheets of flame from theheavens. There was then darkness followed by slow,painful, lingering death. Nine-tenths of the populationof the Earth perished… Insurable loss estimatesare not yet available.’As to the time commitment, I would reckon to spendfrom a half to a whole day a week working on themagazine, but the workload and deadlines can, withinlimits, flex to accommodate your other commitments.In short, being editor on this magazine is great funand is hugely rewarding, albeit unpaid (the £85k claimabove was not strictly correct). So if you fancy doingit, please give me a call. If we don’t get any applications,then all the actuarial reference numbers are putinto a hat and one is selected at random.