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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

The profession needs you!

Let’s face it, you’re busy enough already. There’s plenty to do at work, especially if you want to get that promotion, and it would be nice to see the family/boyfriend/girlfriend in the evening, at least occasionally. So why on earth should you undertake yet another commitment?

Small steps with big footprints
Nobody is denying that the pressures on actuaries are substantial, and growing. But giving up a small amount of your time each month could make a big difference. Volunteering not only helps the profession as it copes with today’s pressures , but it also offers volunteers some tangible benefits in return.

So what contribution could you make? There are a number of ways in which you could get involved, from sitting on various boards and committees, to carrying out cutting-edge research in areas of actuarial science that interest you. Or you could help out with education or careers work, take part in the activities of the local actuarial societies around the country, or promote the work of the profession in some other way. Many of these activities would require an occasional commitment from you of just a few hours.

Helping the profession
How would that help the profession? Actuaries, in common with the other professions, are facing a number of challenges at the moment. Thinking through and dealing with the ever-increasing burden of legislation and regulation is one key area. Another is the particular test of Sir Derek Morris’s review, which will probably recommend changes to the way that we do things when it reports next year. These mean that we need help from members, not just to keep on top of the quantity of work as it comes in, but to give us clarity and quality of thinking, too. We especially need and welcome fresh contributions from younger actuaries. Volunteering is certainly NOT reserved for those who have retired from their day jobs!

How do volunteers benefit?
But how would you gain from doing any of this? There are a number of ways:

Those people who put their shoulders to the wheel in this way find themselves far closer to a variety of professional issues. Learning more about issues, more deeply and more quickly than competitors or colleagues do, directly helps the volunteer’s career in the longer term. Enlightened companies actively encourage volunteering, since they understand the enhanced personal development opportunities that they provide their staff. An employee from my own company recently said: ‘Volunteering has given me the opportunity to apply the business knowledge and experience I have acquired throughout my career in new areas. I have also developed my training and coaching skills. It has been a valuable learning experience.’ There is no doubt that the profession offers similar opportunities to its members when they volunteer.
There will inevitably be a number of important and useful networking opportunities resulting from the formal meetings you will take part in and the informal contacts you will make.
There is the enormous satisfaction of knowing you have really done something to advance the profession and its membership.
Anyone wishing to volunteer their time and skills on behalf of the profession should visit the website at www.actuaries.org.uk/link/members/volunteer.html. The website contains contact details so that you can get in touch to offer your help.

Matthew Cann why I decided to volunteer
When I finally qualified in 2002, like everyone else finishing the examination treadmill, I suddenly had plenty of spare time to fill, at least in theory. However, my young children (now four after the birth of twins earlier this year!) also staked large claims on my non-office hours.

Some things, such as marking student assignments, were simply beyond the time I had available. But I did feel able to join the Manchester Actuarial Society as my company’s committee member. Through this came the opportunity to join the profession’s Internal Relations Committee (IRC). The IRC is concerned with the profession’s website, changes to Council voting structures, publicising the profession’s five-year plan, and supporting the various regional societies. IRC is made up of volunteer members and the profession’s communications team. We hope that you took part in the recent survey that we devised, ‘issues facing the profession’.

The time commitment is not onerous, as we work mainly through fortnightly conference calls and we meet in person only twice a year.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed serving on the IRC. It looks good on my CV and gives me some important contacts for the future. It also provides me with the chance to influence the profession’s communications, a task which I find both interesting and satisfying.

Sophia Singleton
I went along to the Younger Member’s Convention last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. So when I was given the opportunity to join the organising committee for the 2004 convention I thought it would be a great way of getting involved in the profession and also having some fun.

To reflect the convention’s target population, the members of the organising committee are mainly younger members representing each of the main actuarial disciplines. Having worked in pensions for over seven years, I had found that my exposure to the different areas of the profession was to some extent limited. Being on the committee has given me the opportunity to meet people from various disciplines and firms and as a result I have learned a lot about the issues that they are facing. It has also given me the chance to influence the content of this popular convention.

The committee is assisted by members of the profession who are based at Staple Inn. Their involvement has helped me to understand at first hand some of the things that are going on centrally in the profession.

Being on the committee has involved approximately 30 hours of my time over the last year, mainly attending committee meetings. In return for this small time commitment I have benefited a lot and I’m looking forward to what promises to be a lively convention in December.

Kathryn Morgan chairs the Internal Relations Committee