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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

President's comment: Credit where credit’s due

David Hare praises the achievements of volunteers and the executive and says recognition often goes a long way

David Hare

“What you measure is what you get”, or so they say. I think the same goes for what you recognise and celebrate, particularly in a work context. There’s nothing like appreciation and praise to bring the best out in people – whether they be colleagues, family, or even yourself! I have seen a number of achievements by volunteers and the executive during my presidency that deserve recognition.

In February, I had the pleasure of chairing the inaugural IFoA Awards Dinner. It was a lovely event at which family and friends, and a good number of Council members and the IFoA senior executives, came together with a large number of prize winners – including best student performance in various exam papers; best papers at certain events; and a Finlaison medal-winner – to celebrate their achievements. I do hope the next immediate-past president gets invited to the next one!

In March, Martin Potter, the IFoA Scottish Board Leader, and Nick O’Hara, of the IFoA Public Affairs team, took the lead in organising a debate in Edinburgh on the impact of the Scottish referendum on financial services. By the time you read this, the event will have taken place. Whatever the outcome of the referendum it seems there will be an impact on Scottish financial services.

Martin and Nick secured an illustrious panel of speakers, which included Bill Jamieson of The Scotsman, Liam McArthur MSP and Greg McClymont, Shadow Pensions Minister. Debates such as this are lively occasions, well-attended, good for raising our public profile and demonstrate how actuaries can provide practical answers for the challenges and opportunities ahead. I’m keen to congratulate Martin and Nick and all the others who helped make this such a success.

A great deal happens behind the scenes, thanks to the hard work of volunteers and the executive, to make our education processes run smoothly and effectively. 

In 2013 we saw a record 26,864 exam entries - including more members than ever before studying for the CERA qualification. In order to improve efficiency and speed up the evaluation process, the availability of online assessments was increased, a new membership database was initiated and an on-screen marking project for three subjects was piloted. Later this year, the new Certified Actuarial Analyst qualification exams will be launched and an international student forum developed that will bring together student representatives from all corners of the globe.Operational failings in these areas could have significant reputational damage for the IFoA – hence the importance of the high quality work that is done on our behalf.

Member support has also been busy updating and improving IFoA services. In the past year you may have noticed the IFoA’s new brand roll out across the organisation, reinforcing our identity and values to the wider world. The new Resource and Environment Board was launched, and the development of risk management was supported further to encourage members to explore non-traditional areas of work. New careers material and a volunteer induction pack were introduced. End of year reviews for the Practice Boards were brought in, enabling them to publicise their achievements to the wider membership. The accessibility of volunteering roles was also improved and as a result there have been more opportunities, and more people stepping forward to join the pool of talented volunteers. Improved communications played a key role in this, and over the next year there are plans to build on the success of the digital strategy with more online networks and tools for exchanging ideas and creative thoughts. None of this could have been achieved without the work of our marvellous volunteers. 

I recently spoke about what the future holds for actuaries at the Global Conference of Actuaries (GCA) in Mumbai, organised by the Institute of Actuaries of India. I was fortunate enough to have the honour of presenting prizes to young school students who had excelled in mathematics and statistics. These children hailed from the slums of Mumbai but their mathematical talents had been spotted at an early age, with the help of the Institute of Actuaries of India and they were given extra tuition. Thanks to this program, they now have opportunities far beyond the reach of their early expectations. It was really memorable to be given a chance to speak to them, see their enthusiasm, and perhaps encourage them to make the most of the opportunity they had been given.

This is the thought that I would like to leave you with – that we all have the ability to achieve and that a little recognition can work wonders in motivating us to get there.