Actuaries should develop a balanced approach to create a good legacy, says Deepak Jobanputra
At a recent dinner of leading finance specialists I was rather (un)surprised to be described as an oxymoron. When I asked the 'culprit' to explain, the response came back as "an actuary that has a personality and can communicate". I lean towards viewing this as more of a compliment than an insult.
The stereotypical view of actuaries continues to prevail, despite great progress made in this area, not least by the profession's focus on the introduction of communications as part of the qualification process. As members of the profession we are all ambassadors to the outside world and while the 'actuary' label conveys intellect and professionalism it also carries the stigma of introversion. This latter 'quality' in itself need not be viewed as a negative trait. I do believe, however, that it is important for actuaries to dispel many of these historic myths.
Our president this month discusses how actuaries must evolve to maintain a leadership position. He states the high intellect required to qualify as an actuary suggests it should not be beyond our reach to develop the areas of soft skills that are increasingly important in the modern working environment. He goes on to mention it wouldn't require a personality transplant to achieve these skills.
In this issue, we have an interview with the highly respected ex-chancellor, Alistair Darling, covering a range of economic issues. There is reference to the UK government's 'Help to Buy' scheme, which is described by Darling as likely to lead to another "housing bubble".
I would recommend reading this month's review of 'X&Y' on our Arts pages, featuring a highly engaging interview with Marcus du Sautoy. I have often reflected on the merits of balance, and blending our left-brained mathematical traits with those of the right-brained creativity said to dominate the Arts.
I hope this leads to some positive discussion on ways to improve our professionalism. We are debtors to our profession and we must aim to improve and create a legacy for the future.