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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

The final curtain

David Hare says it is vital actuaries recognise that what they do now will affect their future 

David Hare

In this my last article as president of the IFoA I want to reflect on what we have achieved over the past 12 months and highlight some of the issues that have emerged that we will continue to work on if we are to remain relevant in this ever-changing world.

At the start of my presidential term, one of my primary aims has been to raise awareness of the relevance of the IFoA, of actuaries, and the relevance of the world on the work of the IFoA and its members. 

Supported by a committed and enthusiastic network of some 3,000 volunteers, stretching from Birmingham to Beijing, we have taken positive steps forward to raise the profile of the IFoA and the offering we provide our members no matter where they are located. What is clear though is that this is just the start. We need to continue our work to make the IFoA and our high quality qualifications more relevant to our members and to the environments within which they work. 

As I said in the March issue of The Actuary: “I want us to experience that being a member of the IFoA is helpful to our careers, the work that we do and the issues we are grappling with.” If we continue along this path, we will succeed in reaching this goal – in ramping up our relevance!

 Great strides have been made in our public affairs work with significant contributions to the pensions and Scottish independence debates at home, and we continue to work closely with our sister organisations around the globe to promote the development of actuaries and actuarial science.

No review of the past 12 months would be complete without mention of the Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA) qualification. I am extremely proud of the work we have done in this area, demonstrating that the IFoA is an innovative and forward-thinking organisation that is leading the way in responding to changes in the market. 

As a public interest body we are providing real thought leadership through our research and links with universities around the world. A wide variety of themes is being researched and key collaborative projects have been established with external partners. 

The Actuarial Research Centre (ARC), now in its second year, is sponsoring five PhD students to deliver academic research that has commercial application. In addition, through new initiatives such as the Sir Edward Johnstone prize for the best graduating student in actuarial science in South East Asia, we aim to continue to attract, recognise and reward the brightest students coming through our ranks.

Being president is hard work. It has been a truly fantastic, enjoyable yet exhausting experience, which would not have been possible without the understanding and support of my family, friends and colleagues. 

I have met actuaries at all stages of their careers and I have been particularly struck by the enthusiasm of students and new qualifiers. 

As president, I get to meet people I would never usually see. I have met senior regulators both in the UK and overseas, and attended functions that I normally would not have the pleasure of attending. 

Being president is not a one-man show – it’s a team effort. So I would like to thank all those on Council who elected me, the current Council and the executive staff who have supported me, and the loyal network of committed volunteers who dedicate their valuable time to the IFoA.

Lastly, at a recent event, I found myself in conversation with a senior executive from a major financial services organisation. He was telling me, with pride, how his firm’s financial strength was continuing to benefit from risk management decisions made 20 years ago. 

It reminded me of the work I did in the early 1990s on the then Faculty of Actuaries Bonus and Valuation Research Group. We were undertaking stochastic modelling of with-profits offices and experimenting with various new business and bonus rate scenarios.

We coined the phrase the ‘flywheel effect’ to refer to how the outcomes in later years of many of the projections were dominated by the nature and amount of the liabilities assumed to be taken on in the early years. So you see, what you do today really can affect things years in the future. 

As with the presidency, I hope I have sown the seeds of the importance of being relevant. 

I leave you with a question – what decisions should you, your firm or the IFoA be making now that, in 20 years’ time, will enable others to reap the benefits that you or we will have sown?