Derek Cribb welcomes the new Council members and says that the EU referendum result provides opportunities for actuaries
By the time you read this, a few weeks will have passed since the IFoA Council elections; the names of those elected were announced in last month's issue. Let me begin this article by welcoming our new Council members and those that have been re-elected. I look forward to working with you all over the coming months.
I am also delighted to welcome Colin Wilson as our new president, and post-AGM, we were privileged to hear him deliver his first keynote speech, setting out his themes and planned focus for his presidential year. The speech is available to watch on our website, and I encourage all of you to invest your time in viewing it.
The same day as the IFoA held its annual AGM and presidential address, the historic EU referendum took place. As with the IFoA Council elections, it is never possible to predict voting outcomes; the referendum result surprised many and has led to a considerable change in the political and economic landscape. This has also created an opportunity for public interest professional bodies like us and our members.
Our newly published strategy re-emphasises a vision whereby "We will serve the public interest by ensuring that, where there is uncertainty of future financial outcomes, actuaries are trusted and sought after for their valued analysis and authority". It strikes me that rarely has there been a time of greater uncertainty. Now is the time for us to live up to the vision. Now is the time for the IFoA to use our insights in the public interest. Now is the time for our members to use their professional skills and training to stand out as beacons of wisdom and authority.
While the consequences for the general populace may seem unclear, there is potentially a vast amount of opportunity lying open for our members if we focus on what the needs of our clients are, and as always, what serves the public interest. I don't think anyone working in Whitehall or in business underestimates the challenges that lie ahead as the nation works through the consequences of the referendum. But what is clear to me is that there is always the possibility of finding opportunity from uncertainty, and this plays right to the heart of the actuarial skillset.
But what are the implications for the IFoA as we head into unchartered waters and consider the repercussions for all the laws, resolutions and arrangements that have been set up in our industry across the whole of the continent over decades?
What has not changed is that risk, financial uncertainty, EU regulation and financial markets are relevant to all members of the profession and all of society, whether directly or indirectly.
As a global professional body, our members work in over 100 countries, and are experienced in the application of actuarial science in a number of business and national contexts. What this reinforces is that for those who may be worried about the future, or need help assessing the consequences of policy outcomes, our members are well placed to provide the expertise to assist and advise, and we have the tools that public or private business needs to work through the issues. This is an opportunity we cannot ignore, and the possibilities for discussion on these prospects are endless.
There are more questions and arguments that could be raised when delving deeper into the significance of the referendum result on our industry. What will it mean for the 2,000 IFoA members who work in other EU countries? What will happen to many of the overseas companies in which our members work, which have established a presence in the UK as a passport into other EU states? There will be many more questions like this that we need to think through, not just as a country but also as a professional body.
Politically, the results show that some of the devolved nations had a majority aspiration to remain in the EU. If this should lead to a call for independence in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the following questions arise: How would this affect us as a representative organisation with strong ties within those two nations and in the event of such a change? Could there be further opportunity for discussion on new services to members and clients?
The responsibility of the IFoA is to keep asking these questions and challenging the advent of change in society by keeping our members informed and engaged. This is a new dawn for the UK; now is the time for us all to deliver on our strategic vision.
Derek Cribb is the chief executive of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries