President of the IFoA Fiona Morrison sets out plans for an education review and talks about speaking out for the profession
I struggled to write this month's article. It's not that there isn't much to write about as I embark on my presidential year. On the contrary, there is so much I want to share and seek your help and support with to promote this great profession of ours.
I have found myself distracted, not by the day job or my new responsibilities; though I am quickly finding out how Nick Salter must have felt trying to juggle a career and his presidential duties. No, the real problem has been all the sport that is currently jamming the airwaves.
As a keen sportswoman, I feel like a child in a sweet shop. Do I watch the rowing at Henley, the women's World Cup in Canada, the tennis at Wimbledon or the Ashes? Decisions, decisions...
But all these activities on TV reminded me of a couple of points I made in my presidential address, and that is the importance of teamwork and creating a lasting legacy for the profession.
The Lionesses became the first England football team of either gender to reach a World Cup semi-final since Sir Bobby Robson's side reached the last four at Italia 90. While falling at the last hurdle to a cruel injury-time own-goal was a massive disappointment, I found the reaction of teammates rallying around their devastated colleague, Laura Bassett, and the supportive reaction on social media from the rest of the footballing fraternity praising the team for their phenomenal achievement quite inspiring. For me, that's what the best teams do. Together they succeed and inspire, and in times of trouble and disappointment they are resilient and united.
Although the women's team did not lift the World Cup this time around, for me they won a much bigger prize. What they achieved for the game back here in the UK is to have created a lasting legacy. Their captain, Steph Houghton, summed it up nicely in her post-match media interviews when she said that the team's aim before heading out to the World Cup was to inspire a nation.
I think Steph and her team achieved their aim, and, in many ways, as I said in my presidential address, that is what I want us to achieve as actuaries. In fact, I would go further and say that it is incumbent on us to create a lasting legacy that attracts the brightest and best talent to join our profession. But we can only do that if we ensure that we are delivering qualifications that give actuaries the skills and knowledge and expertise that industry wants.
To help us achieve this we have started an education review that will report during my presidency. I look forward to sharing with you the results of that review, along with the results of the wider strategy refresh we are undertaking.
Although making sure that we have robust and relevant foundations in place is critical to the long-term sustainability of our profession, that is just one part of the equation. We also need to raise our heads above the parapet about promoting actuaries and the actuarial skill set if we are going to maintain demand for what we do and branch out and seek new opportunities.
I am conscious that, for many of us, speaking out does not come naturally and takes us out of our comfort zone. But it is clear to me that no matter how powerful our messages for our clients, employers, policymakers or the media, if we don't present them well, we aren't making the most of all our hard work. That is why the IFoA is putting me through the wringer with a round of media training so that I can, with confidence, stick my head above the parapet and give the IFoA a voice in the media, promoting our insight, research and thought leadership.
How we deliver our message is also important, so I was delighted to see the IFoA embracing innovation when, for the first time, we live-streamed over the internet the spring thought leadership lecture, opening it up to a much wider audience from around the globe.
I like to think the Royal Henley Regatta followed our lead when, for the first time, they live-streamed the event this year. The Regatta attracted over a quarter of a million viewers online - now there's a challenge for the autumn lecture!