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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Press comment on Morris: journalist, heal thyself

As might have been expected from the fact that the Mor-
ris Review was released on budget day, the UK press devoted almost all financial space to consideration of the budget, and comments about the Morris Review were lacking in quantity and quality. ‘Eating ourselves to an early grave?’ was the most interesting press comment published on day ‘M+1’ that involved references to actuaries. No, it wasn’t referring to Gordon Brown’s appetite for taxation, but to rising obesity in America (the article appeared in the Atlanta Journal).
The Daily Telegraph referred to Morris as ‘a radical shake-up of the actuarial profession’, so one wonders how they’d have described the FSA’s recent reforms of the insurance sector. The Guardian referred to ‘proposals to sweep away self-regulation’ and gave some interesting historical background involving ‘actuaries who value pension fund liabilities for insurance companies’, a dotcom crash, and a 200-page report by Sir Derek (we were only able to count 160 pages, but this may reflect our outdated deterministic enumeration algorithm).
Most disappointing of all if only because of our ‘actual vs expected’ way of looking at life was the comment of the Financial Times. This started with the witty and original ‘they find accountancy too exciting’ gem and followed a ‘physician, heal thyself’ slant. After a sound summary of the report’s main points, and a pat on the back to us for having introduced ‘significant updates of the educational syllabus’ (presumably the FT’s journalists haven’t attended the ‘business awareness module’), the comment finishes with the following interesting points:
‘A satisfactory solution here requires more than reformed actuaries. Pension funds need well-informed and robust trustees who are prepared to demand separate actuarial advice on behalf of fund members if necessary. One message of the Morris Report is: actuary, heal thyself. But this will only be possible under pressure from well-informed and gritty customers, who will also need to raise their game.’
If you’re an actuary, a customer, or (most of all) a journalist, then heal thyself. Physicians can presumably have a rest.