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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

It’s your profession – get involved!

After failing to get elected to Council for the second time, it could be said that I’ll do my chances next year no good by encouraging more members to stand. However, I want to demonstrate how you can get involved and influence the development of your profession, while on the face of it failing to get elected to your profession’s council.

We are currently going through an important time in all areas of the profession. In life insurance we have the introduction of CP195; in pensions, the Pensions Bill and the statement of funding objectives; and the profession is having its structure and operation reviewed by Sir Derek Morris. In the midst of this, the government is reviewing the operation of the savings market within the UK. Do any of these issues have an impact on the way you work and how your career will develop? If so, do you want to help the profession address these issues?

On the other hand, how many times have you heard the actuarial exams criticised, the view the profession takes criticised, or the general perception of actuaries criticised? I am not just talking about the criticism levelled by other professions, but about the criticism levelled by other actuaries!

Making a difference

Whether it’s getting involved in the profession to help guide it through the important issues it faces, or to help the profession’s image to change and public perception to improve – you may feel like a small fish in a big pond, unable to have any significant influence. You could not be more wrong.

After establishing myself first in the life insurance industry and subsequently in the investment consulting industry, I felt that I needed to be more involved in the profession at a strategic level and decided to stand for Council in 2003. My initial thought was that in order to get involved in the profession at board level, as opposed to being on a working party, I would need to get elected to Council. What I did not realise at the time was how much the profession values the commitment shown by actuaries to get involved in the profession’s working. After all, we have over 5,000 fellows and the skill set within our profession is immense.

Council members and board members are not remunerated by the profession for the time they spend on professional issues. However, most employers of actuaries are supportive of such work both for the development of the individual concerned and the benefit that the employer gets from having its employees belonging to such a well-respected profession as ours. There is, however, a relatively small proportion of the profession who choose to commit time to the development and workings of the profession per se.

Joining the board

I did not get elected to Council in 2003. However, less than a week after the Council election I was asked if I would serve on the Finance & Investment Board. This was the board that I was hoping to get involved in if I got elected to Council and so I was delighted to be asked to be a member of the board. As a result of this, and indirectly as a result of standing for Council, the following has happened:

  • We have undertaken a survey into the potential use of credit ratings by pensions actuaries when assessing the solvency of the sponsoring employer of a defined benefit pension scheme. This survey will be followed up by a networking evening in early 2005, when ideas for using the methods of credit rating agencies to help pension scheme actuaries will be discussed.
  • I have commenced a review of the knowledge portal on the Finance & Investment part of the profession’s website and would welcome any ideas, comments, or criticisms from fellows and students alike.
  • I am now responsible for chairing the 2005 Finance & Investment conference following the successful 2004 conference in Brussels, chaired by Alan Rubenstein.

This is in addition to being involved in other issues concerning the finance and investment arena as well as being the Institute’s representative on the ACA Investment Committee and the ACA’s representative on the UK Investment Performance Committee of the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF).

Getting involved

We are part of a professional body that relies on the support and time that its members are willing to provide. The profession is not in the position to refuse volunteers when they make themselves known, especially those who are willing to give the time needed to serve on council. I expect to become increasingly involved in the profession and have been given every encouragement to do so, regardless of the fact that I have not been elected to Council either in 2003 or, more recently, in 2004.

And finally, before you think I have time on my hands to kill, think again. As an investment consultant who is married with three kids, time is at a premium. However, it is possible to be successful in a commercial environment, have a good home life, and still make a valuable contribution to your profession – but that is a different story.

After all, if nobody were willing to get involved, what would happen to our profession?