Sarah Mathieson, head of research and knowledge at the IFoA speaks about furthering actuarial science
When we talk about research at the IFoA, what does this actually involve?
The IFoA's five-year strategy published in 2011 included a reinvigoration of the Learned Society through "advancing all matters relevant to actuarial science". The IFoA's research is about developing our subject, within both traditional actuarial fields and newer areas, to ensure that actuarial science continues to remain relevant and sustainable in the long term.
Central to research at the IFoA is the 70-odd working parties and their 600-700 volunteers, who are researching topics ranging from genetics to risk culture, as well as a range of research projects that the IFoA commissions from third parties. Research projects also often involve partnering with other organisations. For example, we are about to embark on a project with the highly-respected Institute of Fiscal Studies.
How is the IFoA's research used and accessed?
The outlets that our members are probably most familiar with are the sessional meeting programme, the IFoA's residential conferences and other thought leadership events. They provide members with CPD opportunities but also offer a forum to discuss and develop the subject further. All sessional meeting papers, conference papers and many other research papers are stored on our website. Sessional meetings are also filmed and can be viewed online for free, wherever you are in the world (offering CPD). See: tinyurl.com/q3ed7do
Some research can find its way into one of our two journals - the British Actuarial Journal (BAJ) and Annals of Actuarial Science (AAS) - which IFoA members can access for free ( tinyurl.com/7ldtz9t).
The IFoA also uses its research to support its public interest role through informing public policy development. The IFoA advocates evidence-based policy making. We use our intellectual capital of research outputs and analysis to provide that evidence. Examples of this include referencing our research in consultation responses to government and regulators, as well as using it at meetings with civil servants and politicians.
What is the role of the research and knowledge team?
Our team help to make some of this happen through project managing the commissioned research, supporting the sessional meeting process and managing the production of the journals. We also work with the Awards Committee and manage most of the IFoA's prizes and awards, which celebrate success and excellence in our actuarial community. Kay Henderson (research programme manager), John Anderson (research project manager), Chiara McCormack (research project manager), Lorraine Atherton (research and knowledge assistant) have all joined the team recently.
As well as dissemination through events and publications, our librarians, David Hood and David Raymont, offer a comprehensive information service for the development of new research. Kevin McIver (research relationship manager) is also developing relationships with the wider actuarial research community, particularly with universities, to support the exchange of ideas and sustain the development of actuarial science together. The team also supports the Actuarial Research Centre (ARC), which was set up as a joint initiative between the IFoA and the Scottish Financial Risk Academy (SFRA) to support a small number of actuarial science PhD studentships.
What's happening in the team over the coming months?
An exciting development will be the establishment of the new Research and Thought Leadership Board (RTLB), which will provide a single focal point for research across the IFoA.
After recruiting two PhD students into the ARC last year, we also hope to have two or three new students commence their studies at the ARC over the coming months. Towards the end of the year, the IFoA will also be opening an exhibition at the Royal Society in London on longevity, the impact that the work of Royal Society Fellows has had on life expectancy and the role of actuaries in measuring longevity.
How can members and other people get involved?
If you have completed some research, consider presenting at a sessional meeting, which also includes publication of your research in the BAJ. The AAS also welcomes submissions as a peer-reviewed journal.
Join or set up a working party at: tinyurl.com/d2q3pbq
From time to time, we require volunteers for review panels for the commissioned research projects and new members for the journal editorial teams. Most of these opportunities can be undertaken from anywhere in the world so don't be put off if you are not UK-based. If you would like to find out more or be kept up to date via our research e-newsletter, please email [email protected]