When we started discussing the 2021 IFoA’s Thought Leadership Series and how we could position it in support of our purpose – that is, to be the voice of actuaries, and to support, develop and be the voice of our members – we knew member involvement had to be at its heart, not least because thought leadership is often described as being when one person’s thoughts are used to lead others.
We also knew that there was a danger of overthinking what we needed to do to establish this thought leadership.
Ironically, faced with a global pandemic, we were free to approach the series with greater speed, agility, imagination and courage than we have perhaps been known for in the past: the first chapter in this initial series was up and running within a month of us formalising what we were going to do. It has been inspiring to see our members step in to lead the debate and, in turn, inspire many more actuaries (as well as those beyond the profession) to think differently about the future. The true legacy of the work will be in its impact.
On a practical level, we delivered 42 events across this first series, with close to 8,000 attendees. I hope you enjoyed our line-up of decision-makers and influencers, who challenged historical perspectives on climate risk and impact investing, finance for public interest, growth mindsets, mathematical futures and the actuarial profession, among other things. We are especially indebted to Patrick Poon for his generous sponsorship of the Presidential Speaker Series and the opportunities it has created.
Members often remind me how important it is to them that the IFoA has views on the bigger issues of the day, pushing the boundaries of what actuaries think about and helping them to reflect and become better actuaries.
It is evident from the feedback we have had that this first series has lit a lot of fires. Our second series will fan those flames, and I am confident we will see the benefits in the profession over time, supporting the public interest.
Stephen Mann is the chiesf executive of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries