During the past year or so I have spoken about how much the world, the actuarial profession and the IFoA have changed throughout my career. I’ve seen fax take over from telex, only to be displaced by email and the web. Instant messaging and video calls are normal, rather than sci-fi fantasies.
Spreadsheets appeared, dominated, and now compete with more powerful data analytic tools. It really is a different world today, and yesterday’s skillset isn’t adequate to deal with it.
The IFoA is on its way to becoming a digital-first organisation, and we are seeing the results. And what results they are! Free online events are a boon to all our members, wherever they are based. Video calls enable different ways of working and wider participation for our working groups. We have moved to online, open-book exams. And, under the bonnet, improved internal systems are supporting online account management for all of us and online personal and professional development submissions for students.
There are more changes coming. We’re using technology to improve not only interactions between the IFoA and members, but also connections between members and others – for example, we’re currently operating pilot online digital communities for banking and data science, and are planning to start more later in the year.
Technology is also changing actuarial work. For example, data science presents both opportunities and challenges. The data analytics enabled by expanding computing power and data storage provide new ways for actuaries to provide insights in traditional actuarial fields, as well as in new sectors and industries. However, some of our traditional advantages are being eroded as sheer computing power can compensate for our expertise and depth of understanding.
I don’t know what the next developments will be, but the world will continue to change and I’m optimistic that actuaries will face up to the challenges and embrace the opportunities. I’m confident that the IFoA will continue to support us as we do so.
Louise Pryor is the president of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries