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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

The Facinstituticulty of Actuaries

I read with interest Shane Whelan’s article in the November issue about restructuring the Faculty and Institute. He certainly makes a very valid observation about ‘the current duplicate Institute and Faculty’. However, his argument for dividing the shared roles of the two organisations into those of a professional body and a learned society is damaged by the very example he cites, the Royal Statistical Society.

That society combines both roles, its website declaring ‘we are both a learned and a professional society’. It sets its own examinations, leading to a graduate diploma. Holders of the diploma or an equivalent degree may, after a period of professional experience, apply for the professional status of chartered statistician. At the same time there is also room for those who are interested in statistics but do not wish to become professionally qualified. Members of this group pay a lower annual subscription.

Thus, following that example, there is no reason why there should not be one actuarial body combining both functions. In practice that decision has already been taken. The reality is that the Actuarial Profession, to use the name which has been adopted by stealth, is one body with one set of professional examinations, one group of committees and working parties, one set of subscription rates, and two presidents. We should stop deluding ourselves that there are two actuarial organisations based in the United Kingdom and acknowledge that the Faculty has been reabsorbed into the Institute from which it broke away on geographical grounds a long time ago. The 150th anniversary of that split would seem to be a fitting time to complete the merger by tidying up the few remaining loose ends.

Shane Whelan writes in reply:

I accept John’s point that the Royal Statistical Society is not the best example of a ‘pure’ learned society. The RSS is now in a position similar to that of our profession 40 years ago, with a code of conduct just a few pages long and a membership and subscription rate that reflects its emphasis as a learned society (only 1,700 of its 6,500 members have a professional designation and the annual subscription is an enviable basic rate of £70 rising by £57 with the highest professional designation of CStat).

Neither do I disagree with his assertion that there is just one actuarial profession in the UK, with some loose ends. My point is that the Institute and Faculty have historically played an international role in promoting actuarial studies. This international role could be atrophied by the emerging UK actuarial profession. So, through my proposed division of labour between the two organisations and the new use of the brands FIA and FFA, I have a vision quite contrary to John’s. I picture the Faculty casting off its owlish ways to arise phoenix-like on its 150th anniversary to fulfil globally its original purpose of ‘promoting the studies necessary for those practising the profession’.