Increasing globalisation means sharing actuarial knowledge and practice, says Nick Salter
The world is getting smaller, so they say, and this applies as much to actuaries as it does to anyone else, as 42% of our members live or work outside of the UK and this figure continues to grow. So what do we do for, and with, our members worldwide as part of our royal charter requirement to promote actuarial science? How can we make engaging with other international bodies good not only for our members outside the UK but also for the 58% of our members working and living here?
Last month, we hosted in London one of the biannual International Actuarial Association (IAA) meetings. Representatives from many of the 65 actuarial member associations from around the world came together to discuss best practice, and ways they can collaborate to take forward actuarial science in areas such as education, regulation, financial risk, accounting and actuarial standards. The mission of the IAA - as the worldwide organisation of actuarial associations - is to represent the actuarial profession and promote its role, and to promote professionalism by developing education standards and encouraging research.
A strong IAA is crucial for the profession. We think it is an important way to gain influence and develop commonality with other associations with the aim of raising the profile of the work actuaries do. As understanding of actuarial work grows throughout the world, so too will demand for actuarial services. This will benefit actuaries whether in the UK or overseas and is consistent with my desire, as I stated in my presidential address, to widen the understanding of the value that actuarial input can bring to business issues, not just in our traditional fields.
International collaborations can also help associations learn from each other. A prime example of this is Australia and South Africa being well ahead of the UK in their involvement with banking institutions. This is an area into which some UK actuaries are diversifying, and lessons can be learned from these other countries that can then help us in the UK to broaden our skill set and move into non-traditional industry sectors.
Our strategy for international membership is to work alongside other developing associations, sharing knowledge and best practice. It is important to note that we are striving to be an inclusive body that works towards the public good, rather than an organisation focused on growing our international membership for the sake of it.
An example of our strategy coming to life is with the introduction of the new Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA) qualification. It is designed to provide a technical level skill for people working alongside actuaries and also for those working in wider financial services who may want to diversify their skills base. By allowing those working in the global actuarial industry the opportunity to gain a professional qualification that requires continued professional development and a code of conduct, it will help the growth of actuarial science and the members of actuarial associations around the world.
These are exciting times for the CAA as the first exam was sat at the end of August and it will be interesting to see how the qualification and its reach will develop over time. We have seen a lot of interest from other actuarial associations around the world in learning how the qualification fits in with our existing membership structure and whether something similar could be suitable for them.
One of the aspirations for our profession is a continuation of the initiative introduced by my predecessor, David Hare, which was for us to be relevant to the changing needs of the world in which we work, and I believe our international efforts and the continuing development of our qualifications such as the CAA can help us achieve this.
Increasing globalisation means no country is an island, and continuing to broaden our reach outside our borders will ensure that the IFoA, and its members, retains relevance and influence in a future world. The IFoA will serve its members best, whether they be in the UK or overseas, by ensuring that it has influence and contact globally.
One last thing to note is the result of the Scottish Referendum. Our Scottish Board did some excellent work, playing an active role in informing the debate with both the Scottish and UK governments. The resulting
No vote means that we now have more certainty on the way forward, which is very welcome. There is much more work to be done, however, and I can confirm that the IFoA will continue to work with Westminster and Holyrood in seeking out relevant areas to contribute to issues in the public interest where we can add real value.