In May this year, a Council meeting was held overseas for the first time in the 170-year history of the UK profession
In May this year, a Council meeting was held overseas for the first time in the 170-year history of the UK profession. Most Council members were there in person when Colin Wilson convened the historic meeting in Hong Kong on the eve of the IFoA's Asia conference. The meeting ran from 4pm until 10pm local time to accommodate the remaining Council members on video link from the UK.
The overseas location was recognition of the growing international membership of the IFoA, with more than 40% of all members and 60% of all students based outside the UK. As a Council, we're very aware of our responsibility to understand the expectations of all our members and students, no matter where you are based.
That's exactly what we sought to do during our time in the Far East. En route to the Council meeting, we split into two groups; one visiting Beijing, the other Singapore. We held 14 meetings across both these locations, spending time with actuarial employers and educators, industry associations and regulators, as well as hosting events for IFoA members and students.
The Council meeting itself had a strong international flavour as we considered how to further enhance communication across the globe and reviewed our current examination system alongside others around the world.
After the Council meeting, we spent two days at the Asia Conference, put together by Stuart Leckie and his committee. We heard from many luminaries with strong Hong Kong associations, including Dr Moses Cheng of the Independent Insurance Authority, AIA's Mark Saunders and Nobel-Laureate Professor Sir James Mirrlees. Some Council members also ran sessions at the conference.
It was a stimulating and exhausting week, giving a sense of the profession in the region that no quantity of Council papers could.
The Council visit was an extension to an ongoing programme of international engagement, encompassing involvement with international and national actuarial bodies as well as organising and supporting events across various continents. Our local representative offices are a fundamental part of that engagement and it was encouraging to see firsthand how effective they are. As a Council, we'd also like to see more members outside the UK standing and being elected to Council.
By the time you read this, we'll know how successful this has been this year. If you're interested in standing in future, please contact the IFoA's corporate secretary, Kimberley Russell ([email protected]), who will be able to put you in touch with a member of the Council.
Overall, the trip was a significant investment for the profession and the individuals involved. However, it's clear that members in all territories benefit financially from economies of scale as the profession grows. A less tangible but more compelling benefit was reinforcing the IFoA's leadership role within a vibrant international community of actuaries who are able to share ideas and experience across frontiers.
Key take-aways from the visit
- A reinforcement of the esteem in which the IFoA is held overseas
- A greater appreciation of the international pipeline of talent entering the profession
- A heightened sense of responsibility towards members and students based outside the UK.
Report by John Taylor