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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

The Motto Review

You cannot hope to bribe or twist(Thank God!) the British journalist.But, seeing what the man will doUnbribed, there’s no occasion to.Welcome to the January/February issue of The Actuary, the first of 2005 and the first under this editor; time, like an ever-rolling stream, has borne Matthew Edwards away. Borne him away to the Editorial Advisory Panel, that is. I must thank Matthew on behalf of The Actuary and its readers for his sterling editorship of this magazine over the past two years. I am sure we have all enjoyed his erudite and entertaining articles in which he has discoursed upon, among others, the analogical actuary, the bibliophilic actuary, the choriambic actuary, the abductive actuary, the philoparametric actuary, the martial actuary, the catallactic actuary, the infernal actuary, the over-endowed actuary and, most recently, the actuary and The Actuary.There are two reasons for starting this article with the Humbert Wolfe poem above. First, conflicts of interest are topical in the actuarial profession, and I wanted to affirm my independence and incorruptibility in the role of editor of this magazine. Any brown paper envelopes that I receive containing bundles of cash will be returned instantly. The envelopes will, at any rate. I say nothing of the cash. Second, Wolfe’s poem could form the basis of a new motto for the magazine, as it has been said that our current one – ‘The magazine of the actuarial profession’ – is prosaic. So what about:You cannot tempt with briberyThe good old honest actuary.His work you will appreciate!(Until you see his charge-out rate.)This would be topical given the salary reviews on pages TK and TK which suggest that actuaries are currently lining their pockets at an unprecedented pace. However, it would be unseemly and sordid to discuss money in our motto; and best, perhaps, to let sleeping dogs lie. Something more factual and less fractious is called for. Such as:You cannot taint with briberies(Thank God!) the honest actuaries.They provide commercial, financial, and prudential advice on the management of liabilities and assets, especially where long term planning and management are critical (cont on page 94).That is better, although a purist might quibble with the meter. Perhaps we should briefly review what other magazines use as their mottoes.The Lawyer magazine doesn’t have a motto. This may be for risk-management reasons; imagine the loss of credibility should The Lawyer be taken to court for running unsupported claims in its motto. Its editor should have his stripes snipped off and his licence revoked. There is nothing of the shrinking violet, however, about Legal Week, which proudly claims: ‘PPA Award Winner 2002, 2003, 2004’. This motto bespeaks confidence and self-assuredness. Legal Week is not just a contender; it is a certified winner. You feel that if magazines had handshakes, Legal Week would grip you like a vice and stare unblinkingly into your eyes as your fingers turned slowly to white. It might even slap you on the back.The conspicuously lower-case management today has the motto ‘Not just business as usual’. This negation of the cliché ‘business as usual’ suggests a magazine that has no time for received wisdom or conventional practices (such as the use of capital letters). Even before you have turned the page, you know something about what the magazine stands for, which is exactly what a motto is designed to do. Another interesting case is Knowledge Management, which has the motto ‘The magazine for the knowledge-enabled enterprise’. The mission of this magazine, we feel, must be to boldly knowledge-enable where no magazine has knowledge-enabled before. But we must ask the question, is knowledge enablement necessarily a good thing for an enterprise? If you type ‘knowledge-enabled’ into a search engine, you find various discussions of ‘knowledge-enabled mass destruction’. That is the very last thing any self-respecting businessman wishes upon his enterprise.But our magazine is different from those discussed above, in that it is a trade press journal and doesn’t have any competitors. There is no need to tempt in new readers with slick word-play or a list of awards won. A factual description such as ‘the magazine of the actuarial profession’ will do. It is, if you will forgive my franglais, a motto juste. You are welcome, however, to write in and suggest new mottoes. If you struggle for ideas, try borrowing existing ones and give them an actuarial twist. See, for example, what you can do with those of Aeroplane Magazine and Homes & Antiques, which are ‘History in the air’ and ‘Where classic meets contemporary’ respectively.Suggestions such as ‘Finger in the air’ and ‘Where antiquated meets modern’ will be ruthlessly suppressed.