Doctor Who?

After a brutal power struggle, Dr Bruce has usurped Gae for the Irony Throne. Well, perhaps less a brutal struggle and more the case of Gae stepping down and the Institute desperately turning to the nearest hack.

Dr Bruce will bring a fresh Gen-Y perspective to the Actuaries magazine: obliviously pretentious while infuriatingly distracted.

Dr Bruce is uniquely qualified to give advice on all aspects of modern actuarial life. He has observed people with years of experience. Also, he has recently completed his doctoral thesis in Being Sensitive at an online-only University and has other similarly useful qualifications such as CERA.

DEAR PRESIDENT DR BRUCE,

I am outraged by the extravagance shown by the Actuaries Institute in moving to more luxurious premises. How can our Institute justify its excesses? – I reject the Premise(s)

Good advice in situations like this is for you to write a strongly-worded letter. Mission accomplished. However, there is a page to be filled and the magazine has already blown its monthly budget for Americanised stock photos with contrived demographics. Thus, you’ll get something that angry letters seldom deserve: a response.

The Institute space is a reflection of the Institute’s pace, and it is this pace of expansion that draws the ire of many members. There was a time when a modest Institute was enough to afford actuaries a very high standard of living. Now it seems to take an army to defend our privileges.

Some common complaints against our Institute lack consistency: membership is too expensive; and members do not get to meet like they once did; and the new premises with larger meeting facilities are excessive.

Regardless, I sympathise with your complaint. Our Institute may ‘justify its excesses’ by noting that the staff-to-member ratio has remained steady and so the growth is just reflective of the membership. This has merit but you do not find this satisfying. Indeed, it is a bold strategy to placate the angry members by pointing to the massive growth in the number of Fellows.

The popular advice for those who’d like to see change is to get more involved. This advice serves our Institute well: there is nothing like a committee to dull one’s enthusiasm. I endorse this advice. The Institute staff weekend spa retreat helped me change many of my positions on Institute extravagance. I now believe that the Institute hasn’t any fat left to cut, or exfoliate.

You seem ready for battle but you should be pragmatic. You are not going to win the hearts and minds of the membership on the topic of square-footage. Peace of mind will come from engaging in battles of practical consequence. You should divert your energies to a populist cause such as promoting actuaries in new frontiers where they can produce comparable results for a price that says “well, they must be better”.

Although your anger could be redirected to be productive, the Institute should still respond to the concerns you have. As a start, they should hire more branding experts to tone down their communication with members to give the illusion of modesty.

For example, why is every meeting scheduled in the Institute Library? This gives the impression that the Institute facilities equal those of the Cluedo mansion. Tea in the conservatory, anybody? (Spoiler: it was the lead piping and there is no prize for guessing which council member was the casualty.) ‘Cramped Meeting Room 2’ is a more appropriate title to placate the masses.

The modesty rebranding may have already started if the dry egg salad sandwiches that get dished up at lunch meetings are any indication. I digress.

I envy your enthusiasm to take on City Hall. Australia loves an underdog. We comfort ourselves that it is not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, but the size of the fight in the dog (and the legal ramifications for organised dogfighting). But that is not to say that your enthusiasm is well placed. The willingness to fight is a powerful commodity that can be better channelled into something greater than floor space. For example, eradicating malaria or origami.

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

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