Charles Cowling describes how the actuarial profession is moving forward, with recent initiatives at the IFoA helping to ensure it maintains its relevance and sustainability.
This is an exciting time to be sitting on our Council. Our profession is entering a period of transformative change. This is clear, from the increasingly globalised membership and the relentless pace of technological advances to the ever more diverse fields in which our members work.
Over the past year, I have been privileged to be able to listen to, consult on and discuss the way the profession is evolving with members at all stages of their careers. I have listened to students who are just starting out on their journey to becoming qualified actuaries and analysts. I have also heard from IFoA Fellows with decades of experience gained at the highest levels of our industry. One thing comes through loud and clear from these discussions: members feel enormous pride in being actuaries and belonging to our global actuarial community.
Surely few other professions can claim such an engaged and committed membership. Every year, thousands of actuaries come together to extend the boundaries of actuarial science, contribute to the education of the next generation of professionals, and guide our professional body, thereby ensuring its continued relevance and sustainability.
This pride in our profession, and the desire to ensure the next generation of actuarial professionals have the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly changing professional landscape, have shaped our focus on our need to be 'Fit for the Future'.
Ensuring we are Fit for the Future connects several current initiatives in the profession. These all share the common goal of ensuring we continue to have the skills and outlook to remain at the heart of modern business practice. We are facing rapid technological development as well as increasing globalisation. These factors combine to create an unprecedented pace of industrial and societal change. We therefore need to take steps now to ensure our members have the skills, qualifications and support they need to succeed.
Central to how Council is developing its focus on Fit for the Future is the feedback we have gained from employers. They have told us about how they see their markets changing. They have also stressed the importance of the skills and competencies they need to be successful and to ensure the future sustainability of the actuarial profession.
This feedback highlighted:
- Being relevant and valued in the modern business context
- Responding to the needs of an increasingly global marketplace
- Ensuring actuaries remain in demand
- Continuing to attract the best talent into our profession
- Ensuring our qualifications are fit for purpose
- Developing a rigorous regulatory framework that meets the needs of both the public and employers
- Creating wider employment opportunities for actuaries in new fields and new geographies, and
- Pushing forward with innovative ways of doing things.
In response to this feedback, Council has agreed to reposition 'Associate' as the initial qualification as a professional actuary.
Associates have been able to refer to themselves as 'Actuaries' for some time. They have also had full voting rights in the IFoA. To support this change, we have shared our belief that introducing 'Chartered Actuary' (CAct) as an alternative designation for Associate would enhance the status of a qualified actuary at this level. Uppermost in Council's mind at all times has been the need to ensure that Fellows continue to be seen as highly experienced professionals, with expertise and skills beyond the core competencies of an Associate. This distinction will continue to be made clear in all that we do. To demonstrate this, in our recent consultation on the possible introduction of a Chartered designation, we outlined our thinking that Fellows would be entitled to call themselves a Chartered Actuary as well as an FIA or FFA. This emphasises that our Fellowship is something that is achieved and awarded beyond the Chartered Actuary level. There will be no diminution in the requirements for Fellowship, and all existing professional certifications, such as Practising Certificates, will continue to be available only to Fellows with suitable experience and expertise.
Our Council believes that only by bringing together the passion and pride our members feel in their profession, together with a modernised and refreshed qualification structure, will we meet the evolving needs of future employment. Only then will we be best-placed to benefit from the opportunities of the 21st century, and remain truly Fit for the Future.
Charles Cowling is a member of the IFoA Council.