[Skip to content]

Sign up for our daily newsletter
The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

A diverse year ahead

Nick Salter champions the IFoA’s global presence, and the range of skills actuaries can bring to many areas

Nick Salter - President's comment

Let me open my first article as president of the IFoA by expressing a warm and heartfelt hello to all members and other readers of The Actuary. I look forward to meeting many of you over the next 12 months, at events both inside and outside of the UK. I am eager to hear about what you are doing and the challenges that you face, and I hope that you can take the time, whether in writing or in person, to share your experiences with me. 

The actuarial profession faces a great many challenges, and over the past year David Hare has addressed some of these under the theme of ‘relevance’. Looking ahead at my year as president, I would very much like for us all to consider ‘diversity’. This may sound like a very different theme to David’s but actually it has a lot in common, and I shall be building on the great work that David has started.

We are an international global body with a diverse membership around the world that is getting more diverse by the day. My aim is to help the IFoA further harness the talents and expertise of our global membership within our fantastic team of volunteers who provide intellectual capacity and leadership across the organisation. No-one should feel that 

they cannot offer their talents to the profession by virtue of their geographical location or background.

To use David’s phrase, this will help to ensure our ‘relevance’ as an organisation to all our members, and to advance our profession forward around the world. However, this is not all that I mean by diversity.

What is the actuarial skill set? I have been undertaking some work to define this, which I look forward to sharing with you all soon. However, for the purpose of this article I think I am able to summarise it as: actuaries understand risk. We take complex data and create insightful analysis that helps our clients and employers to make difficult decisions and informed business choices. 

We do this within a clearly defined ethical and professional framework to which we are all accountable. 

Put like that, it is clear that this is a valuable, regulated skill set that can be applied to many roles and types of organisation. Yet actuaries are known not for the skills that they have, but the areas where those skills are applied. This is something I would like to help the actuarial profession to tackle. 

Working outside of silos is already happening of course. The Resource and Environment Board is producing insights that feed into the many areas, traditional 

and non-traditional, that actuaries work in. Recent research by the Pensions and Long-term Care Working Party utilised expertise from the health, life and pensions sectors. 

A growing number of our members are already applying their skills to a range of roles and organisations that are not traditionally actuarial, leading the way and highlighting that the actuarial skill set has broad application. 

There are many ways that this can be encouraged if members work in partnership with their professional body to do so. For example, better communication of the skills that we have as actuaries within our organisations, or perhaps by applying for roles that aren’t traditionally ‘actuarial’. Also, the ability to illustrate the value that assigning those skills to non-traditional areas brings – through research for instance. And indeed by using our CPD requirements to learn about work being undertaken outside of our silos – are there techniques that colleagues working in other sectors are utilising that could benefit you in your role? 

I will be working with the Executive and Council to help promote diversity in this way over the next year. As I mentioned earlier, I will be taking the time to meet members of regional societies, to learn more about the challenges that you face, and to hear your thoughts about how we can progress diversity as a professional body. I would urge that if we want to move forward as a profession, and remain ‘relevant’, we must all strive to consider diversity and help to change the perception of actuaries. 

Read more from Nick Salter, in his interview with The Actuary editor Kelvin Chamunorwa