I was delighted to have my attention drawn to Darryl Boulton's article Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (The Actuary, February). The idea that actuaries "can do things other than insurance" - and, more important, that the next generation should be confident in that ability - was central to the restructure of Australian actuarial education in the mid-1990s. This was based on the recognition that there was an "actuarial control cycle" at the core of what we do. Understanding the philosophy of the control cycle (widely recognised by engineers and previously - in a specific application - the subject of a seminal paper by Jeremy Goford) enables actuaries to address a wide variety of problems in a multitude of contexts.
Readers of The Actuary may be interested to know that there is a standard textbook, used in Australia and North America and in enlightened corners of the UK, that uses the actuarial control cycle to explain fundamental actuarial concepts. As it happens, the second edition, published in 2010, illustrates each of these concepts with reference to a coffee shop.
Dare I now start to hope for a decent 'long black' next time I'm in the UK?
Richard Lyon 6 March