Diversity in research is key to professional survival, says Nick Salter
Research and thought leadership are crucial to the long-term sustainability of the actuarial profession. Because of the hard work of those member volunteers who put in the time and effort to undertake such work, we have built up a strong knowledge bank for the benefit of a diverse range of interested parties: from our members to others in society such as academics and public policy makers.
Research informs what we do as practitioners and how we do it.
It drives our communications with policy makers and provides the evidence base and voice of the IFoA. It helps to improve our professional standards and fulfil our royal charter obligations.
I believe that my theme of diversity is relevant to our research efforts in two areas. Firstly, by working across practice areas we will strengthen our actuarial expertise by encouraging greater diversity in the subject matter that we explore.
Secondly, by adopting a global outlook on research topics, we can ensure that our high quality work remains relevant to the global issues affecting our members no matter where they are located around the world.
To help to facilitate this progression our new Research and Thought Leadership Committee (RTLC) has been established. It was designed to complement the commissioning of research by the practice boards, either directly or through working parties.
We encourage cross-practice analysis and identify any gaps in our research programme where we need intellectual capital to further actuarial science or inform the key public policy debates of the day. Themes it has identified for further investigation include new economics and cyber risk.
Some of you may have noticed that we recently advertised for a lay chair for the RTLC and the selection process is underway. It is expected that the successful candidate will bring an external and different perspective to actuarial science, complementing the expertise of our members and broadening the focus of the committee.
The IFoA already sponsors and co-sponsors research by external bodies and academics to bring other perspectives to our knowledge bank. The Actuarial Research Centre, the Limits to Growth Research from 2013 and sponsored research by the Pensions Policy Institute are all examples of this. We also encourage these external influences to join us at the many events that we run to aid our members in accessing the latest thinking on a variety of relevant topics, from dementia to holistic balance sheets.
By including these within our research and thought leadership programme we are encouraging access to diverse thinking and a broader range of research.
I would encourage all of you to remain up to date on all these developments not only for the area in which you practice, but also other areas.
There is real value in the work that is produced in all of the practice areas, and it is encouraging to see more and more cross-practice research being produced - like the recent examination of the social care cap by the Pensions and Long Term Care Working Party.
Our research is disseminated in a variety of ways: through the media, member newsletters, the website and at events. We will be running three key events, all of which offer members access to a diverse breadth of thinking on key topic areas.
From 15-17 September, we are hosting the International Mortality and Longevity Symposium in Birmingham. Academics, policy and decision makers and members from around the world will hear from sharp thinkers with expertise on mortality and longevity.
The GIRO conference is being held at the Celtic Manor resort in Wales from 23-26 September. This year's theme is innovation and, in addition to the sharing of research and experience, there will be consideration and discussion of future opportunities for the roles of actuaries.
We also have our autumn lecture on 1 October in Edinburgh, where one of our
newly-elected Honorary Fellows, professor Carol Jagger, will share her research and insights on healthy and unhealthy life expectancy. I am keen that we all undertake continuing professional development because we want to stay up-to-date and develop our own knowledge banks, and not because it is a requirement or a chore.
There are plenty of opportunities to get access to the research output. Sharing knowledge and research across sectors and regions is beneficial to us all. Encouraging further diversity in this way will, I hope you all agree, be of even greater benefit.