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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

The right to vote

I recently learned that Joint Council proposes that the membership votes on whether the Institute and Faculty should be merged into one body.

Being a fellow of the Institute I have also been offered, and have accepted, the opportunity to vote in a ballot to determine whether one of our students should be awarded fellowship status without completing the exams.

These are two important decisions which, if they result in affirmative majorities, I believe will change the face of the Actuarial Profession as we know it.

A merged professional body would look and feel very different to the Institute and Faculty. I know that there are people reading this that will be horrifi ed at the prospect of a merger, or takeover, as it may even be seen by some. Others may see the cost savings and other benefits achieved by a merger as sensible. We are pleased to have managed to gather some thoughts from both camps in this edition.

Turning to the other decision I am faced with this month, my view is that the Andrew Smith ballot is as critical as a potential merger, as it could result in the rare event of a member becoming a fellow by an alternative route other examination (all fellows were admitted this way before there were exams). If this happens, the Profession must be careful to distinguish between this case and others and ensure that it does not become anything other than a once-in-a-generation occurrence.

I believe that the debate is on a matter of principle rather than at a personal level. Andrew has contributed an enormous amount to the profession, including The Actuary, and the Institute has stated that this is a one-off case. I do, however, have two concerns with the ballot process itself. One, if a merger takes place, the result of this ballot could affect current members of the Faculty as well as the Institute. In light of this, I would argue it unfair to exclude Faculty members’ views on whether a student should be elected to fellow without completing the exams.

Secondly, I feel that the students’ perspective on this matter is crucial, as they are the members who could quite possibly end up in a similar position to Andrew and so their thoughts on this may have a different slant to current fellows. It is regrettable, therefore, that no steps were taken to find out the students’ view.

By the time that this edition of the magazine is distributed, the deadline for returning proxy voting forms in respect of Andrew will have passed. The timing of the vote announcement and deadline is unfortunate as there has been no opportunity for the magazine to host a debate on the matter.

This is disappointing as The Actuary is one of the key methods by which members of the Profession can express and share their views. If you couldn’t vote but felt that your view should have been taken into account, I would urge you to let the Profession know as soon as possible.

New team members
The editorial team is expanding and I am delighted to announce that Amy Guna of Grant Thornton will be joining us next month as social editor, and Matthew Fewster from JP Morgan and Finn Clawson from Hewitt Associates will be taking on the Arts page. If you have any comments or suggestions for either of these sections, please let me know.

Margaret de Valois