In recent issues, there has been much talk of actuaries getting more involved in wider fields, and numerous articles saying: We can do this because we understand risk, we can think long term, and can build clever spreadsheets, without recognition of the fact that these skills are not unique to actuaries.
In the March issue (bit.ly/21x1UoI), Derek Cribb reported that HR directors may not be enamoured by the idea of getting actuaries involved outside their core areas, and he sees this as a communication issue. I beg to differ, because I believe the profession needs to deal first with some core facts.
Actuaries are very well paid and effectively priced out of most other work. Even on our own website we say: "Average graduate salaries in the recruitment market are £33k", and go on to explain that the range goes up to a basic salary of £222k. Young people who have worked hard to qualify, and have been enticed into the profession by the salaries on offer, are unlikely to want to move into wider fields for less money.
Actuaries are technically focused and not encouraged to work outside their immediate field of specialism. Our training and ongoing CPD is mainly about technical competence. This is reinforced by the Actuaries' Code, which effectively restricts professionals from any activity where they don't already have the required expertise. Broadening out seems to be seen as a risk to professional standards.
The recent introduction of APS X2 states quite clearly that members must consider whether to apply Work Review to actuarial work for which they are responsible. For someone moving into wider fields and using their actuarial skills (and hence doing actuarial work), this effectively requires them to hold their hand up and say "I can't do this job by myself. You need two of us". The combination of the above three aspects of being an actuary seems to present a significant professional restriction of the extent to which actuaries will move into wider fields. This is not a communication issue.
Martin Pike FIA
14 March 2016