Looking Back or Looking Forward - President’s Column

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2016 is coming to an end, as well as President Lindsay Smartt's appointment at the Actuaries Institute. In this final column, he reflects on the past year and also shares his hopes for 2017. 

As I write on this final occasion as your President, and it’s that time for looking ahead at the new year that is almost upon us, I first of all want to take a moment to look back over the year.

At the start of the year I undertook to work on:

  • the standing and prospects of the profession;
  • the quality and relevance of services the Actuaries Institute provides to Members;
  • the quality of leadership and decision making by Council; and
  • engagement with Members – not least through further increasing transparency.

For the standing of the profession, I selected themes of:

  • Relevance;
  • Sustainability; and
  • Community – our place in business and society, both in Australia and globally.

The profession has continued to engage in public policy with numerous submissions to government, regulators and other interested stakeholders.  One key submission was to APRA on the review of the role of the Appointed Actuary.  We have published further Green Papers on The Impact of Big Data on the Future of Insurance and Unlocking Housing Wealth – options to meet retirement needs which followed last year’s very successful White Paper For Richer, For Poorer Retirement Incomes.

I hosted four media lunches, attended by many of Australia’s top financial journalists.  Our insights into key areas of public interest in which actuaries work – particularly superannuation, insurance and big data and analytics – were appreciated, as we come from an objective perspective.

These activities serve to further build the standing of the profession and enhance its relevance in business and society.

The Actuaries Institute held a number of significant seminars and meetings, which attracted top speakers, good interest and attendance.  One particular event was a hands-on workshop in data analytics.  We also facilitated another MOOC and Kaggle competition in this rapidly growing field, which is emerging as a major practice area for actuaries.

Council has in my view worked very well this year and has had continued momentum in being more transparent.  Feedback both within and from outside of Council suggests that Council is focused at the right level – being strategic and looking after and promoting members’ interests and the standing of the profession.

The year has taken me to member events in seven Australian states and territories and seven countries (across Asia, New Zealand and UK).  On each occasion, I enjoyed hearing of the wide variety of situations and areas in which members work.  I also took the opportunity to encourage feedback and questions as we strive to improve services for members, wherever they work.  I was again reminded of the large number of volunteers (including many outside Australia) who contribute to the Institute.  Thank you.

Another part of our actuarial community is based outside Australia.  Our engagement with the international community is only increasing in its importance.  Even over the 12 short months in the role of President I have observed growing international developments and the importance of being engaged effectively with our international colleagues from other actuarial associations.

I have taken part in various international meetings and conferences where I have, through speeches, presentations and other engagements, sought to contribute to international developments and also to wave the flag for Australia.  These opportunities again reminded me of the importance of contributing globally and being involved and cooperating in this part of the actuarial community.

During 2016, a number of reviews have commenced.  Some will continue beyond 2017 while others are due to report in the first half of next year.

  • Code of Professional Conduct
  • Disciplinary Scheme
  • Education Review – which now includes CAA (Certified Actuarial Analyst) Global

While each of these is important, the Education Review, which includes a thorough examination of our qualification education process and business model, will be transformational.  In order for the profession to be sustainable, it is crucial that we have a modern and suitable qualification education system and process.  The report is due to Council in Q1 2017.

At the International Actuarial Association Meetings which I attended in Cape Town in November, the importance of the newly announced CAA Global joint venture between the UK Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and the US Society of Actuaries was further reinforced.  Council has already commenced consideration of how this will impact the Actuaries Institute and what involvement we consider to be in our members’ best interests.

As I look back on my seven year term on Council, much has changed over that period.  I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity of serving as President.  Many members, including former presidents, have been generous in their counsel, support and feedback.  I have found this year as President to be challenging at times but thoroughly enjoyable, enriching and also one of learning.  I thank the Council, the Presidential Committee, David Bell and the team at HQ, and the many colleagues and volunteers who have all contributed.  2016 has been another successful year for the Actuaries Institute and its financial position and operating budget are sound.

I also want to add a special thank you to my wife, Sue, who has been a wonderful support to me in fulfilling all that is involved in the role of President.

Whilst Looking Back is important and instructive, the value comes by Looking Forward with appropriate strategies and decision-making.  Finalising the Education Review, considering CAA Global and implementing any proposed changes will be very significant for the Institute.

As Jenny Lyon, steps into the role of President for 2017 and Nicolette Rubinsztein joins John Evans on the Presidential Committee, we are assured of excellent leadership going forward.  I wish Jenny well as President in 2017.

I continue to welcome your feedback on this column or any other matter.

Finally, I wish you and your families a very happy Christmas and every success in 2017.

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2017 President Jenny Lyon and 2016 President Lindsay Smartt at the Presidential Medal Handover

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About the author

Lindsay Smartt

Lindsay Smartt is 2016 President of the Actuaries Institute, a Non-Executive Company Director and also consults in risk and strategy. He sits on the Boards of the four Westpac / BT Financial Group insurance subsidiaries and is a member of their Board Audit Committees (chair) and Risk Committees. Lindsay has held various senior executive positions including as Chief Risk Officer, Deputy CFO and a number of Appointed Actuary roles (including one in Hong Kong), having worked in large financial institutions, global reinsurers and consultancies (including his own).

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