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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Riding the winds of change

Joseph Mills takes inspiration from entrepreneur Elon Musk and explores the actuarial world’s future possibilities



If you too are now some way into you CT exams, then I can really sympathise with the panic of ensuring you pass just the right combination of exams prior to Curriculum 2019. But I also think it has come at an opportune time. 

With every issue of The Actuary, and any other profession-related news for that matter, it is possible to see the changing landscape of actuarial science – one which I am still struggling to get my head around, so please do forgive my naivety where appropriate in this month’s introspection – I am sure there will be plenty.

I recently watched multiple interviews and TED talks with the world’s real-life Tony Stark; Elon Musk – a man with boundless ambition, who dreams of more than most are capable of, and is more capable than most can dream of being. The reason for this is that I work in motor insurance, where there is great opportunity yet great risk. Where being agile, bold and confident are equally as important as the time when you need to be steady, soft and cautious. 

In previous issues, many a writer has discussed machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and, of course, autonomous vehicles. Design concepts today are becoming more and more akin to that driven by Detective Spooner in the film I, Robot, as well as the perception and concerns of autonomy, AI and robotics. 

Elon Musk, when asked what his motivation was behind what he is trying to achieve, put his view as: “I just try to think about the future and not be sad.” 

In the same interview, Musk talked about why such a large part of his focus is on SpaceX, his project to get into space, as well as other sci-fi-themed ventures, when there are already so many issues with the world now as it is.

To paraphrase his response, he focused on the fact that exploring things should not just be out of immediate reaction and necessity. Subjects such as global warming and fossil fuel, transport, civilisation bound to earth alone – the list goes on – are all going to be issues necessary to address in the future, so why not think about them now?

For me, autonomy, AI, technological advancements in vehicles, route to sale, product offering, regulations are all going to change. There are even apps we can download onto a smartphone that can get you insurance cover in 60 seconds and where you can also make a claim and receive payment within minutes. 

Irrespective of whether or not all of these take off, tomorrow will be different to today. It is not a sad prospect. To embrace changes, I need to shape my career to tackle whatever future hurdles I am to face.

The IFoA is recognising that many changes are to come across the whole actuarial field. And it is invigorating that the next fresh-faced FIAs, CAct/AIAs and CAAs are likely to bring a different calibre of actuary to the table. This shift in the profession will be helpful and a necessity to the markets in the years to come. 

Many have touched upon the same topics above. But I’ve got to take my hat off to the Institute. It is saving the profession before we all go off to do some online courses and become data scientists.

Actuaries are the type of people to face the future. And if Elon Musk’s explorations are anything to go by, it’s a future that will get your adrenaline going! 

Joseph Mills is joint student editor