Louise Pryor and Colin Dutkiewicz describe how the IFoA COVID-19 Action Taskforce is coordinating a pandemic response for actuaries and the public good
If there’s ever been a time when we need actuarial skills, it’s surely now, as countries across the world battle a new disease and an economic crisis looms.
The abrupt arrival of the disease, the global scale of the crisis and the need to develop better thinking and modelling on the short, medium and long-term demographic and economic impacts presented such a pressing need that we had to enable a professional body to be a part of the response. The IFoA COVID-19 Action Taskforce (ICAT) is the name of this new, nimble structure.
The working practices of ICAT are evolving as we collectively find solutions so we can produce outputs at speed.
ICAT workstreams (there are more than 90, covering issues such as mortality, changing considerations for health, life and travel insurance, impacts on cyber risk, impact on risk transfer trends, and so on) are coalescing around issues that are most relevant to our members and where actuarial science can make the biggest impact. These workstreams are based on suggestions from existing IFoA practice boards, working parties and member interest groups, as well as individual members, and are effectively ICAT’s agile equivalent of working parties.
They are not all necessarily going to last for months or years, and not all will produce academic papers or research reports. Some may simply identify questions that should be asked, while others might produce blogs, podcasts or magazine articles. It’s up to them.
Above all, their product will be focused and timely. We’re relying on the professionalism of our volunteers, most of whom are IFoA members and are thus signed up to the Actuaries’ Code and aware of the standards we need to work to. On this basis, our quality assurance processes can be agile, allowing us to be bold and swift.
Outputs for actuarial peers and the public good
We want to create value for our IFoA peers and other actuaries. We will be looking to originate insights and guidance that enables them to do their jobs during a situation that is unprecedented in modern times.
We also want to serve the public interest. Some ICAT workstreams will be targeted in that direction, seeking to apply actuarial insights to issues of public policy, look at the design and resourcing of services and infrastructure under different scenarios, and working with the IFoA executive to influence public discourse and government.
ICAT’s work will also look beyond the UK. This is a global crisis and no country can be free from it until all countries have it under control. We have connected with associations in several global regions to enhance our international perspective.
Following our call for volunteers in April, more than 550 people from 49 countries stepped up – from undergraduate students to chief actuaries, academics and retired members. We are ensuring that ICAT can benefit from the diversity of perspectives and skills this range of volunteers brings – from actuarial expertise and industry knowledge to organisational skills and social media know-how. The sudden 100% digital age facilitates this inclusion by making meeting access and contribution accessible to all.
These volunteers have already shown commitment and readiness to operate in a new way, with outputs including the reports Impact on new business in health and care and Supporting protection insurance and savings customers, and national COVID-19 narratives analysing the crisis in more than 25 countries.
Outputs are available on the IFoA’s Pandemics Hub (bit.ly/2XSLDCT) and are promoted across IFoA social media.