In his first editorial as president, David Hare believes it is time for actuaries to assert their expertise
I am thrilled to be writing this first article to you as president of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA). As I said at the President's Annual Address on 24 June, I had no idea when I qualified as an actuary that, 25 years later, I would be speaking to our members and stakeholders as president. I am humbled to have been elected and welcome the opportunity to help drive forward the IFoA's agenda, both in the UK and internationally.
In recent years, the IFoA has begun to feel very different from the two separate bodies we once had. There is a real sense of energy about the organisation, among both volunteers and staff, which is infectious. We have a strong executive team, led by chief executive Derek Cribb, that is well placed to advance the work of dedicated volunteers and staff, without whom the organisation would not be able to support its members and other stakeholders. I have been struck by the staff's professionalism and commitment to members, and the spread of actuarial influence, which was one of the key reasons I was willing to be considered for president.
I must also mention the value that I place on those who volunteer for the IFoA in whatever capacity. You all play an immense part in ensuring that we continue to provide an excellent and relevant service to each other, to the rest of the members, and to the many stakeholders and others whom we seek to influence. I look forward to meeting as many of our existing volunteers as possible over the next year, and welcoming more as opportunities arise.
Speaking of opportunities, my predecessor as president, Philip Scott, together with Council, established a great new brand for us with a set of values that will help us to build on our successes:
> community - we want to be part of the action, sharing technical expertise and knowledge where actuaries can add value;
> integrity - we want to be known for doing the right thing in the public interest; and
> progress - we are an international organisation that wants to be part of developing actuarial influence.
These values are about growing our reputation and the trust of our audiences. In order to do that, the work of the IFoA must be relevant - and seen to be so.
The three previous presidents of the IFoA all made their mark. Ronnie Bowie was a change champion and oversaw the merger of the Institute with the Faculty. Jane Curtis focused on financial illiteracy, education and regulation and helped forge great links with government. Philip Scott highlighted the advantages of a good brand and knowing what we stand for as an organisation, as well as the importance of recognising our customers' needs.
The role of the president is no longer to set the strategy for the professional body - the Council is responsible for that. The president's role is to act as a proactive ambassador for the organisation and to help add colour to the implementation of Council's strategy.
As the fourth president of the IFoA, my aim is to complement our strategy by making sure that the relevance of what the IFoA and each of its members does is well understood.
As explained in my presidential address, I want the organisation to feel relevant to us and I want it to go without saying that being a member of the IFoA is actually helpful to our careers and the work we do. My address was filmed on the day and is now available to view on the IFoA's website at www.actuaries.org.uk.
I also want the work of our volunteers to be recognised more as fundamental to the impact of the IFoA, and for them to feel appreciated by the rest of us for the time and effort they give. I am keen that volunteers can see the relevance of what they do for the IFoA and how their input supports the bigger picture.
Sadly, it is no secret that often the work of actuaries is misunderstood or liable to conjecture and, as a result, the value of what we do is not appreciated as well as it might be. So, as an organisation that is doing more and more, it is important that our stakeholders and the public gain a better understanding of what we do and why it is relevant to them.
Our proactive public affairs activity, building on our volunteer-led research and consultation responses, will be fundamental to achieving this.
In short, I want to 'ramp up our relevance'.
The IFoA is an international organisation with members spread far and wide, and a professional heritage that dates back over 160 years. With all that talent and experience, and our commitment to working in the public interest, we can help our members and our stakeholders grapple with many of the key issues that are relevant as the world changes.
Most of all, I want our members and volunteers to be proud to be associated with the IFoA , and appreciate that being part of a community means that we can be stronger and more relevant than the sum of all the parts.