Derek Cribb explains why continuing professional development plays a key role in reaching your own goals and opportunities
This is a question you might ask yourself once a year - perhaps when making new year's resolutions, or when you are going through an annual review at work.
Where do you see yourself in one year?
In five years? Too often we forget we already have the tools to help us achieve our ambitions. Our continuing professional development (CPD) helps us develop the broader skills to get us to these goals, rather than just being something that takes up 15-30 hours a year; a chore to get through in order to continue to be called a qualified member of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.
A worthwhile endeavour
These 15-30 hours may feel burdensome when you are trying to fit your CPD into an already busy professional and personal schedule. However, when looking at the overall picture, it's not a lot of time to spend investing in your future.
When you do the maths, 30 hours per year represents less than 2% of your annual working hours. I don't think that is too much time to put towards ensuring your skills are relevant to the most up-to-date thinking, and that you are continuing to develop professionally. In my view, spending 2% of your time to ensure the other 98% is spent to its optimum isn't a high price to pay.
The IFoA strives to create really innovative, groundbreaking CPD that, at its core, focuses on developing and enhancing your technical and professional skills. Content is designed to reflect the real challenges actuaries face on a day-to-day basis and provides support in addressing the issues.
I am always surprised when I hear comments that our CPD requirements are too restrictive. This in my view is to misconceive its overarching purpose in embedding lifelong learning and development. The CPD scheme provides the encouragement and opportunity to develop your potential as more rounded professionals. Staying up to date with relevant areas of specialism is of course important, and why we have such a strong interest from members in area-specific conferences, where attendees can get the latest information, research and thinking.
However, developing your professional, including 'softer', skills at a broader level should also be a key focus when thinking about CPD. Not only will this enhance your skills in your current role but it will also benefit your future career, as the lessons learned will undoubtedly be transferable. In this way, the CPD scheme can help support you if you seek to move into new areas of business, as well as developing your competencies for your current role.
It's reassuring news that the Financial Reporting Council's survey last year, on the perceptions of actuarial quality, shows that the profession is held in high regard by stakeholders.
Of those surveyed, 96% were fairly or very confident in the integrity of the profession. This is a ringing endorsement and is, in no small part, down to the focus our members place on continuing to develop their professionalism and ethical standards.
The series of videos we have produced over the past few years to assist members in meeting their professional skills training requirements are a case in point. They include engaging content that helps actuaries deal with the real issues they are facing day-to-day.
This year, the video content has moved away from focusing on a particular theme, such as whistleblowing or conflicts of interest, with the new content covering a broader range of professional issues.
All are designed to illustrate how the Actuaries' Code can help in dealing with some of the challenges you may face both in your personal and professional lives, and as a guide to making sound ethical decisions when faced with difficult professional dilemmas.
Seize the day
The key to staying current is to not get stuck in a rut. Continuous learning throughout our working lives, supported by the principles embedded in our CPD scheme, is one of the key things we should all prioritise.
So take the opportunity to develop your broader skills, push yourself out of your comfort zone and invest for the future. Seize the opportunity to progress. Your profession gives you the tools you need, but only you can determine how you will use them.