In her final commentary, Fiona Morrison remains passionate in continuing to promote the value of the actuarial skillset
I can't quite believe that I am sitting here penning my very last presidential article for The Actuary magazine. It is fair to say that my year has sailed by, and I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing with you some of the things that are important to me as a person, as an actuary and as your president.
I recall that, as I was preparing for my presidential year, I likened the role to that of the skipper of a boat, whose job it is to keep the vessel on the right heading by making small course corrections to optimise the voyage. As a qualified coastal skipper, I wondered what my nudges on the boat's wheel might be, and how they might support the IFoA on its voyage.
For those of you who are regular readers of this column, you will be all too familiar with my passion for promoting the actuarial skillset. Like presidents before me, I have tried to shine the spotlight on this particular issue that I think is important to the profession, and which builds on the foundations laid by my predecessors. Equally, I hope that I have given focus to an issue that others who follow me into leadership roles within the IFoA will recognise as crucial to our long-term sustainability.
One thing that has struck me, as I have met many of you at various meetings, conferences and award ceremonies, is your passion and enthusiasm for our profession. It is this passion and belief that I not only share but also find infectious and motivating.
For me, this goes to the heart of my presidential theme of 'promote'. Yes, I firmly believe that we need to promote the value that actuaries can make to business, government and society.
But this isn't about a president using a word as a focus for public speaking engagements. No, it is much more than that. It is about you, our members, acting as ambassadors for this great profession of ours. It is about promoting the value of actuaries, and about seeking out new opportunities in which to apply your actuarial skills.
I know it sounds a little trite, but you are the future. I firmly believe that everyone, no matter what stage they are at in their career - whether just starting out as a student, or nearing the end of their professional life - has a valuable role to play in promoting the profession and the value of the actuarial skillset.
To help us achieve this, we need a narrative. We need to be able to articulate to the outside world what actuarial science is, what this means for us as practitioners and, crucially, what it means for the users and potential users of our skills and services.
Creating this narrative is something that we have begun to develop by engaging with the wider membership, and I look forward to seeing the output of that work over the coming months, and for it to become a familiar part of our everyday parlance.
For me, central to this narrative is the fact that, as actuaries, we are experts in understanding financial risk. More precisely, we take the long view to support long-term, sustainable decisions; we understand both sides of the balance sheet; we understand the importance of numbers - but, more than this, we know how to communicate the implications of numbers in a business context.
When I've talked with members, many say that they aren't a 'typical' actuary, because they can communicate. One suggested a fine for any actuary who refers to us as not being able to communicate! Don't worry, I do not propose taking this proposal to Council or the Regulation Board, but it does highlight for me a bigger point.
Not so long ago, we would spend a great deal of our time doing the complex calculations, but now computing power frees us up to focus on the 'so what' and communicating it. That is what we are good at, and that is what we all need to promote.
So what does all this mean in reality?
It enables us to shine the spotlight on uncertainty, and to highlight the opportunities, as well as the risks, in business decisions.
It has been both an honour and a privilege to serve as your president. I have relished the opportunity of shining the spotlight on how we, as a community, can and must promote the actuarial skillset. But this is a spotlight that we cannot afford to switch off.
We all have a duty and a responsibility to keep the spotlight on promotion to help ensure the long-term sustainability and relevance of the profession to business, government and society.
Fiona Morrison is the president of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries