Nick Salter comes to the end of his presidential year and reflects on how many people are involved in making a difference
"Have you enjoyed your time as president?"
As my term moves towards its end this month, this question really makes me stop and think about what we've accomplished in the past year, and whether I've achieved the things I had hoped when preparing my presidential address 12 months ago.
What I was aware of then, and what this past year has reinforced for me, is that the role of president isn't just a one-off post that you enter into with a set of goals that are ticked off as you go through the year (...brilliant, that's diversity done then, tick).
It's more like a relay race, where each of us passes the baton onto the next with the overall aim of completing the race by team effort, rather than through one individual. Each president comes with their own ideas and we place these on the starting line, hoping that those who hold the post after us are able to help see them through to fruition.
However, when I think of the journey that we at the IFoA are on, it's more like carrying the Olympic torch for a time as it makes its way around the world. This gives everyone who volunteers the opportunity to carry the torch and to contribute in a small way to something monumental.
Being one of these Olympic volunteers is a way for people with a love of sport to participate in a great event. I am no athlete, but you don't have to be to carry the torch. The level of volunteer engagement that we benefit from at the IFoA in all areas shows how much our members care about the profession and the furthering of actuarial science.
Since I have been on the presidential team, we have moved from David Hare's theme of relevance to my theme of diversity and are now moving on to Fiona Morrison's (of which she will tell you more in the next issue) - each of us passing the torch onto the next.
I'm also delighted that Colin Wilson has been elected to pick up the torch from Fiona in a year's time. I look forward to seeing the continuing flow of great talent take up the reins in the future.
Another question that I have been asked is: "How is the next president selected?". This is simple - council members are elected by the entire qualified membership of the IFoA, and it is then up to council to select the next president. That person would usually come from within council (and therefore be an elected member), but it also has the ability to co-opt an individual who is not currently on council if there is a particular need.
I'm pleased to see that we have also elected four Honorary Fellows this year: Thomas Béhar, Karel Goossens, Andrew D Smith, and Dave Pelletier. We now have over 100 Honorary Fellows from all over the world who are leaders in their fields. They range from business to academia to government, and other public bodies - a diversified lot - all going some way to take actuarial science forward.
So what have I accomplished? My colleague's question made me worry that the answer might be: 'Not much'. So I decided to write down what we have done in my leg of the relay race.
When I reach the end of my term we should have a diversity action plan to take forward, which is very encouraging. We've had continued success with the Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA) qualification in the UK, and many emerging markets around the world. A huge endorsement for the CAA has been received from the World Bank too, suggesting we are helping to fill a gap in the market around the globe.
It seems we are becoming more diverse in a number of ways. Our student and member numbers are growing around the world, and the gender balance both for qualified and student members continues to become more, well, balanced. Actuaries are being recognised in a number of non-traditional areas, such as banking, and receiving significant praise from industry leaders too.
During the past year we have also carried on David's theme of ensuring we become more relevant - updating our education strategy; creating the CAA in response to business needs; and updating the qualification hierarchy, which sees the 'associate' designation as something to achieve in itself. As president, it's been great to play a part in carrying on what others have started.
So have I enjoyed it? I'm glad to say that, yes, I have. It has been a challenge, but the support from those around me has meant the pressures of having to be 'presidential' have been fun, and I think we have achieved many things too. As I hand the torch over to Fiona to carry forward, I know that it will be in good hands.