Derek Cribb welcomes Fiona Morrisons promote theme to counteract actuaries negative self-image
As we move into a new sessional year, I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to Nick Salter for all of his work as president of the IFoA. Giving one's time to lead the profession while heading up a busy consultancy must have been challenging, but Nick took on the role with aplomb. He focused our attention on many important matters, not least on diversity as his presidential theme. Nick, please accept our congratulations and thanks for a successful year.
As Nick becomes immediate past-president, I am delighted to welcome on board Fiona Morrison as our new president. Fiona has a lifetime of volunteering experience and a real passion for the profession. As she explains in her first column for this magazine, she is taking 'promote' as her presidential theme, ensuring that we all work together as volunteers and staff to promote the value of the actuarial skillset, the wider fields in which actuaries could work, and the value of sound regulation.
The importance of promoting actuarial skills to a wider audience has led me to think about the results of our latest stakeholder perception audit, an exercise undertaken annually for us by ComRes, which surveys stakeholders who are important to the success and sustainability of the IFoA to gauge their views about the actuarial profession. We will publish the full results of the survey on the IFoA website soon.
Interestingly, a strong theme in this year's audit was that the people who hold the most negative views of actuaries are actuaries themselves. They have a sound reputation among employers and regulators: the Morris Review of the profession following the closure of Equitable Life was not mentioned once by external stakeholders in the latest survey results. It is only actuaries who are still talking about it.
It's a vicious circle - actuaries lacking confidence in their abilities can mean that they do not push themselves forward, therefore their value and the quality of their work is not promoted and understood more widely. This is why I welcome Fiona's 'promote' theme. I am incredibly proud of the ComRes results, which demonstrate just how far the profession has come. But actuaries must have confidence in themselves for us to continue moving forward. Retelling the old jokes about introverted actuaries perpetuates a negative image. Take pride in belonging to a profession that has a positive reputation amongst stakeholders for "expertise, professionalism and being highly qualified".