In very recent years, the actuarial community in Northern Ireland has grown considerably in strength and numbers. The launch of the actuarial science and risk management degree in 2007 at Queen's University Belfast has significantly heightened awareness and interest in the profession, as well as increasing appetites for an actuarial career in Northern Ireland.
It became clear that our own regional society was both necessary and appropriate and, in 2012, the Society of Northern Ireland Actuaries (SoNIA) was launched to provide training and professional development for local actuaries and actuarial students. SoNIA was initially set up and arranged through Queen's University Belfast and it maintains strong ties with the university. The committee set up to run SoNIA includes both student and lecturer representatives from the actuarial science and risk management course as well as representatives from many of the actuarial firms operating in Northern Ireland.
Our membership base does, for the most part, work or study in and around Belfast, with pension consultancies being the major player at the moment. However, we are drawn towards all things actuarial, and our past events have covered a wide range of diverse and interesting topics.
Aims and objectives
The main objective of SoNIA is to create a platform for actuaries and actuarial students to develop professionally, widen their knowledge of current actuarial issues and, overall, get to know one another thereby creating a close-knit and supportive actuarial community.
To encourage the participation of our own 'actuaries of the future' we offer free membership to students on the actuarial science and risk management course at Queen's and in doing so provide a link between university learning and day-to-day actuarial work and professional responsibilities (particularly useful for students seeking work placements and future employment).
A representative of SoNIA is always present at the Student Consultative Forum (SCF) meetings to ensure the views of our members are heard.
We would encourage our colleagues from the UK, Ireland and further afield to get in touch with a SoNIA committee member if you happen to be in the area when we have an event planned - we would be delighted to invite you along.
SoNIA holds events five or six times each year, offering members an opportunity to discuss and debate the latest issues in the delivery of actuarial services. Recent events have covered a wide range of topics, including the 'Implications of the Scottish independence referendum' and 'Budget 2014 - what next for pensions?'.
Springboard for development
SoNIA has proved to be an excellent platform for discussion and debate on current issues in the profession and to strengthen the local actuarial community, not to mention providing a chance for our members to get quality continuing professional development locally.
The IFoA and, in particular, regions manager Tess Joyce continue to be an invaluable source of support for SoNIA, keeping us up to date with the operations of similar regional actuarial societies and by providing a platform to market SoNIA.
We will be marking the beginning of our fourth year with a sessional research event led by the IFoA at Queen's University Belfast in January 2015.
For further details, visit: bit.ly/1oUcaog