Remaining Relevant…

This article has been prepared on a plane to Hong Kong for a meet and greet with members and the CPD tour. By the time you read this the tour around Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore will have well and truly been completed. I must say that it is a struggle to work out what to tell members when there is such a delay between events occurring and them being reported in the magazine. Hopefully you don’t find the content irrelevant by the time it gets to you – actually, hopefully you don’t find it irrelevant regardless!

Our 2013 President, John Newman, included decisions that Council had made in his updates and I intend to do that throughout this year. A problem here is that our first meeting is not scheduled for another week (at the time of writing) and therefore there is not much to report.

Daniel Smith - Alf Pollard Book Launch
Daniel Smith – Alf Pollard Book Launch

What I can report is that Council held a productive ’strategy‘ day in early February where we discussed the Institute’s role in Asia and how we (or indeed whether we should) service Asian-based members. This was a more focussed discussion than first intended, which was to discuss our servicing of members outside of Sydney, as it was considered that a solution to our Asian-based members would form a good basis for servicing other members outside of Sydney and it is an area that we have struggled to adequately address to date.

I’ve had a number of people query how Council is ‘getting on’ and I can happily report that the Asia-strategy discussion was well worth the time. All Councillors (bar the one unable to attend – apologies again Stephen) contributed to the day and each felt that the time spent, if nothing else, helped develop a constructive working relationship between the group. I am looking forward to working with a Council that understands the need to work as a team whilst maintaining the ability for each Councillor to have their own views and, as such, reduce the potential for ‘group think’.

Back to the strategy day. What will come of the day? As is the case with many strategy days the outcomes aren’t immediately obvious. Council agreed that the Institute should remain committed to providing services to our members in Asia and that more work needs to be done to understand what services are useful and what can be improved – a gap analysis if you like.

Two taskforces have been initiated which will separately look into the CPD and member services provided to Asian-based members, and the manner in which we provide education services to Asian-based students. The discussions throughout the day have helped to provide structured terms of reference for the taskforces.

I hope that I have more to report in relation to this by the end of the year!

On other matters, so far I’ve attended a handful of events as President. It has been humbling to receive the positive reception that has greeted me at these events and I certainly look forward to that continuing! Not all has gone to plan and the initial moments in Adelaide highlighted a misunderstanding between the Institute staff and the members’ desires. Daniel, welcome to the first official meeting with members as President! All I can say is apologies and issue noted – we will provide the CPD tour event in future.

I’ll finish with a potential example of my ignorance but also of the potential lack interest in Institute matters from many of our members.

Daniel Smith with presenter Matthew Michalewicz - Australasia CPD Tour
Daniel Smith with presenter Matthew Michalewicz – Australasia CPD Tour

In my Presidential address – which you have all watched and read to your children at bedtime – I commented that the video version of the address was open to discussion at the various member forums and Presidential dinners around the country.


At this stage I’ve found that to be true with one glaring omission – Sydney. To be honest this astounded me. There isn’t a specific President’s dinner in Sydney. This is NOT due to the incompetence of Institute staff but rather due to a lack of commitment from members to attend dinners/events held previously relating to the Presidential address. I know some people will argue vehemently against that last point but the reality is that we struggle to get 50 people willing to commit to a function to hear the President speak – that’s not a great return given the more than 1,000 Fellows based in the Sydney area. I haven’t spoken to Estelle Pearson yet (and deliberately have not given her a copy of this article to review given the following comment) but I’m sure she’d appreciate the opportunity to host a President’s Dinner in Sydney in 2015. The dinners held in other states provide a great opportunity to catch up with mates and ridicule the current President so I’m guaranteed to be there in 2015 if such an event is to be held in Sydney.

On a serious note, as a profession it is important that we provide forums for members to comment and seek feedback from Council on its initiatives and, at the moment (from where I sit at least), this appears to be missing in Sydney.

I’m interested to hear your views. let me you know how you think the Institute and Council is going and where we need to improve –

CPD: Actuaries Institute Members can claim two CPD points for every hour of reading articles on Actuaries Digital.