Our strategy recognises that actuaries are a small but global community who are at their strongest when working together. Globally, there are around 70,000 qualified actuaries, but more than five million qualified accountants and a similar number of lawyers.
Why is this relevant? Bluntly, numbers matter. Whether we are concerned about operational economies of scale, and the consequent impact on membership costs, or whether it's about building external awareness of the value the profession brings, there is strength in numbers.
But it's not necessarily about growing the global profession, or even growing the IFoA. While both are important, we also gain by taking a leading role in encouraging and enabling the global profession to work together. Collaboration is key to building a sustainable future, working with our sister organisations for the benefit of all.
We have had some great successes in recent years through such collaboration. The Certified Actuarial Analyst joint venture with the Society of Actuaries, signed only a year ago, has seen the number of candidates continue to grow across the world. The IFoA's 2016 'Brian Hey Prize' was awarded to the joint IFoA/Casualty Actuarial Society International Pricing Research Working Party. Our Asia conference attracts papers and attendees from actuaries of all societies; the final plenary panel this year consisting of the presidents of five different actuarial associations.
Collaboration among the actuarial bodies is part of a delicate balance; global competition for members can drive better levels of support and service, but we must be careful that such competition does not become destructive and undermine the profession as a whole.
My key message with Martin Noble (chair of the General Insurance Practice Board), as we presented to the Casualty Actuarial Society Board in November, was the importance of working together as a strategic aim. The successes to date should only be a pathway to greater success in the future. The opportunity for more joined-up research, pre- and post-qualification education, external promotional activity and building awareness across all actuarial bodies cannot be overstated.
We will continue to actively seek out opportunities to work with sister associations, to build a greater force for actuarial good. Benefits of scale for the IFoA and the global profession will be delivered through both organic growth and deeper strategic alliances.
We must also look beyond our own profession when seeking to progress through collaboration; our members do not work in glorious isolation but as members of multidisciplinary teams.
We overlap with many other fields that have their own well established professions: medicine, accounting, governance, investments, insurance and banking to name but a few. By selecting the right partnerships, we can enhance not only the services our members receive, and the profile of the actuarial profession, but also the reputation of all professions. With the advancement of technology and ever-more intense competition, the entire 'professional' concept is at significant risk.
I believe that strong professions are in the public interest and we must play our part in demonstrating their value.
Derek Cribb is the chief executive of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries