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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Membership survey 2005

In April, the Internal Relations Committee (IRC) released an online survey to all members of the profession. The aim of the survey was to get feedback on the services offered by the profession, both in terms of use and importance.
As part of a wider review of the profession’s financial circumstances, it was felt by the committee that such a survey would provide valuable insight into those services that are core to the membership.
It was your chance to get across your views on the services provided by the profession.
The survey was conducted electronically, targeting 16,000 members in the UK and overseas, from which we received over 1,700 replies such a response rate is extremely encouraging and well above average for such an approach.

Current services
The profession’s current services were rated on a scale of 14 where 4 is very high (use) and essential (importance) and the results are shown in figure 1.
The same four services appear at the top of both lists, ie they are the most used and perceived as the most important, with accreditation/certification scoring highest on both counts.
Education, PCS, and technical guidance also appeared at the top of both lists. In fact, all of the ethics-related services featured scored highly.
All of the services received a higher score for their importance than for use, perhaps indicative that not all services are used by all of the members all of the time. Obvious examples of this would be education (post-qualification) and disciplinary procedures (thankfully!).
If we turn now to the services seen as being of less use or importance, providing new business/career opportunities scored lowest in both lists. Although used quite a lot, networking opportunities were not seen as being of high importance. Volunteering was also low in the ratings a case of apathy, or of actuaries having less spare time?

Information sources
A very similar ranking on both use and importance, with the profession’s website, The Actuary magazine and e-News bulletin coming out on top (see figure 2). The libraries, library services, and despatch brought up the rear. Obviously, physical use of the library is only of use to a limited number of members, but perhaps more use could be made of library services.

Room for improvements
As can be seen from table 2, there was increasing support for electronic forms of communication and less paper-based despatches. General comments about the services members would wish to see modified saw a number of themes emerging, particularly around:
– education and the examination process;
– provision of information via the profession’s website and other online sources;
– customer services; and
– support to members overseas.
11% of members felt no improvements were necessary.
Reasons for becoming an actuary
The lure of a professional qualification and the opportunity to use mathematical and other relevant skills were the top reasons, with salary coming much lower down the list than would perhaps have been expected (table 3).
However, special mention must go to one member who became an actuary because his mother-in-law wanted him to have a reputable profession!

Reasons for staying an actuary
Many people enjoy their work and find it challenging, and are proud to be part of the profession. However many people replied that the qualification was simply a requirement for their job. Again, salary was lower down the list than might be expected, as was inertia (table 4).

Value for money
The overall results of the survey show the very significant value you place on the profession’s core services: to educate and accredit its members and to maintain ethical standards.
In other areas, the profession’s chief executive, Caroline Instance, and the senior management team are reviewing with their staff where processes or activities can be enhanced to provide a better, more cost-effective service to you. A number of important initiatives, for example, in the way the profession administers the examination process, are already under way.
Finally, we would like to thank all of you who took the time to take part in this survey without you these pages would be blank! The only way to make a difference is to speak up.