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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Younger Members’ Convention

As you may already know, the Younger
Members’ Convention, the first of its type in
the UK, is taking place shortly. The cynics
among you may ask, ‘What’s the point of a convention aimed at younger people?’. You may think it’s just an actuarial version of Club 18-30, involving an excuse to get away from the office for two days and party. I’ll come back to the party later on but, being serious for a moment, we think the convention is a good place for members who are beginning to find their actuarial feet to embark on the road of lifelong learning.

Gearing towards learning
So why have an event of this type? Many conventions have traditionally, albeit unintentionally, geared themselves towards more experienced actuaries, so many recent qualifiers find losing their ‘CPD virginity’ a bit of an anticlimax. Conferences focus almost entirely on specific technical areas, often at a deep level. Most nearly/newly qualified actuaries want to learn about a subject, not discuss its intricacies with someone who has been specialising in it since before they were born. Also, sometimes they’re afraid to ask questions for fear of looking inadequate in front of the actuarial gurus. The events planned for the Younger Members’ Convention are geared to, and run by, younger members and each session will have a short presentation followed by a longer question-and-answer session, so everyone will get actively involved and should come away satisfied.

Wide variety
It is a multi-disciplinary event, so pensions actuaries will rub shoulders with life, general, health, and investment actuaries. This emphasises that we are one united profession. There is going to be a wide variety of styles of session, too, including workshops, plenaries and a debate. The timetable has been carefully structured so that everyone attends two technical sessions in their own practice area plus another two in any specialism. A selection of the workshops on offer are:

– Au revoir MFR MFR and its replacement A chance for the pensions specialists to have their say on MFR, such as its effect, whether it has served its purpose, and what its replacement should look like.

– Panning for silver the implications of an ageing population Ageing is having an effect on many areas of actuarial involvement; this workshop will cover the opportunities and challenges presented by population trends and some of the causes: longevity and medical advances. Also check out the session Who wants to live forever impact of mortality improvements which considers ageing from a pensions perspective.

– Tulips, lemmings, and irrational investors Just to prove that we think actuaries should appreciate the human aspect of things, this session considers behavioural finance. This will cover the emotional side of investment.

– How the love canal and silicone breasts nearly destroyed Lloyd’s will cover topics such as asbestos, pollution, and the implications for the insurance industry. It will be interesting to see what visual aids will be used

– What’s it really like to work in wider fields is being run by a panel of actuaries working outside traditional areas who will tell you, indeed, what it’s like to work in wider fields.

The softer skills
Not only technical subjects are covered: we wanted a convention that also looks at the softer skills such as management and decision making. These skills are rarely covered at conventions, if at all, yet they form an essential part of an actuary’s life. For example, for the session Step into my shoes, two human resources professionals will discuss the interactions between people.
We are thrilled that both presidents, Jeremy Goford and Tom Ross, are giving us their support and taking the time to come along to open the conference with a plenary session discussing their past, our present, and your future. This is a golden opportunity to see both presidents in action and for participants to discuss any burning issues.
And last, but by no means least, the entertainment on Monday night shows that we think actuaries should have fun as well. There will be a table quiz during dinner to get delegates in the mood, followed by the ‘Extravaganza of TV games and family favourites’, which promises to be an amusing and exciting event with Giant Jenga and six-lane Scalextric.

A template
It’s been exciting to set up a new event like this, which will be a template for what we all hope is going to be a regular annual event. There is a definite need for an event designed for younger members of the profession and there has been a lot of enthusiasm. A similar event held in New Zealand was a resounding success and, as we have been overwhelmed with enquiries and applications, we have high hopes that this event will be just as successful.