Philip Scott advocates the good work of the practice executive committee
During the past few months I have had to absorb a vast quantity of material as part of my presidency and, worryingly, I have started to think in acronyms. The Profession has a raft of them - PREC, POB, MB, ARC, PACC... the list goes on and on.
One in particular has been much on my mind. PEC stands for practice executive committee and each actuarial practice area has one. So there are PECs for pensions, enterprise risk management, finance and investment, general insurance, health and care as well as life insurance.
They support and oversee the aims and development of their specialism and champion the interests of practice area members. PECs are leaders for their practice area, upholding their reputation and developing the actuarial brand.
In particular, they have responsibility for supporting public interest, promoting awareness of, and confidence in, their work. This involves identifying and addressing emerging issues and relevant 'hot topics'. A recent example is the work being carried out by the pensions PEC to help develop robust long-term private pension provision.
This work often includes developing new financial products to meet the changing needs of consumers, looking forward to 2020 and beyond. In doing this they, and all of us who have influence in that area, need to consider what changes are likely in investment conditions and the profile of the individuals who are buying such products. More important, they must ensure that any new products meet the tighter regulatory standards of the future. We have had enough financial mis-selling scandals and we are all aware that it is far easier to get something right first time than to have to revisit and correct.
All PECs aim to foster a sense of community within their own practice constituency but they also have a key role in providing encouragement and development of actuarial careers within their practice area.
In relation to this, PECs and their sub-committees work with colleagues in education to provide input into each exam syllabus and core reading programme. The provision of opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD) is a key responsibility for all PECs, together with planning the content for annual residential conferences, research papers and hot topic events.
Increasingly, because of their technical expertise, PECs are sought for input into a wide range of consultation responses, and there is a real shift in their outlook as the Profession moves further into the international arena.
The PECs are now undertaking a review that will update and streamline existing terms of reference to ensure they align with our strategy, take account of any shift in responsibility associated with changes to the structure of the organisation and reflect the current practices of the committees.
As part of this review, I shall be supporting the work already undertaken by the PECs and will be joining meetings to facilitate a discussion on how best to continue to promote their work.
The PECs are all run by volunteers, currently over 270 of them, who give generously of their time and effort to support the Profession. Some excellent work is being done within the PECs, particularly in the sub-committees. I want to find out how I and the Executive can support these valuable volunteers and the PECs in achieving their goals. We need to do all we can to help them to help the Profession.
I also applaud the work done by the panels of experts who assist the PECs in their work. These volunteers who sit on our practice area and topic-specific panels form a professional support service for members who require assistance on the interpretation of professional or technical guidance.
We live in a rapidly changing world and the actuarial profession is far better placed than most to adapt and respond to such changes. The Profession, through the good work of the PECs, can aim to act in the public interest to ensure that future financial products are fit for their ultimate purpose.