In her first column as CEO of the Actuaries Institute, Elayne Grace reflects on this fast-paced world and her vision for the profession and the Institute.
It is great to be writing my first column as CEO of the Actuaries Institute. It is a privilege to lead the organisation that represents the Australian Actuarial profession, which has origins tracing back to 1897. Thank you for all the supportive and ‘best wishes’ emails I have received since my appointment.
Like all of you, I want to ensure we build a strong actuarial profession that continues to remain in high demand; a modern, outward looking profession that is known for its cutting-edge data analytics, trusted insights and commercial strategy, extending past its thought leadership and historical regulatory roles. We need to stay relevant!
We live in an agile, competitive world with no expectation of any slow-down. In an era when machines can out-perform human beings at tasks, Richard and Daniel Susskind predict ‘increasingly capable systems’ will bring a fundamental change in the way that the ‘practical expertise’ of specialists is made available in society and argue that professions’ opaqueness and affordability will be challenged (The Future of the Professions).
Business and society are undergoing significant changes. Common features include:
- Economies are seeing low growth and increased savings focus.
- Consumer expectations and distrust are increasing.
- Increased demand for strong STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) skills but competition is also increasing.
- Consolidation of financial services and regulatory harmonisation.
- Continuing rise of Asia.
It seems that Australian actuaries are already adapting to these new forces, increasingly working in a diverse number of areas. Long known for their regulatory roles, Actuaries are moving into broader management roles in financial services. In a recent survey 47% of 777 responses said that <50% of their job involved APRA regulatory considerations and 24% had none at all.
There is an ever-rising number of actuaries working in data analytics. 11% of all students compared to 5% of the total profession cite data analytics as their primary practice area and 20% when secondary practice area is included. We are also seeing increasing numbers of actuaries working with both Federal and State governments, whether it be through investment valuation work or the NDIS.
What makes a ‘profession’?
What does it mean for the identity of our profession as we broaden our practice areas? The word ‘profession’ means different things to different people. It is derived from the notion of an occupation that one ‘professes’ to be skilled in, any type of work that needs special training or a particular skill, often one that is respected because it involves a high level of education. But at its core, it’s meant to be an indicator of trust and expertise. Rachel Botsman* challenges us all in this new era to ask compelling questions about how trust is built, managed, lost and repaired, in an environment where the trust in governments, business, and other institutions is at an all-time low.
In order, for the Actuaries Institute to meet the challenge of best serving the profession, it is important that we:
- Position the Institute to anticipate future changes in the role of actuaries, the global actuarial profession and economic trends to better assess our delivery of services to members.
- Build our brand and community by developing and promoting the unique actuarial value proposition and our thought leadership status.
- Build more targeted life-long learning and a respected, education system that focuses on the capabilities required in the future.
- Improve our delivery of services by extending our relationships with employers of actuaries, universities and other actuarial associations.
- Drive value for members through a high performing culture, increased analysis of Institute activities, improved governance and effective resource targeting.
We are a small profession so scale is an issue but the contribution of our volunteers is immense. They are the backbone of the profession that keep our education, lifelong learning, practice excellence, professional standards, communication, events, public policy and thought leadership so strong.
I have been lucky over the last five years to have worked closely on public policy and thought leadership with some of the most highly respected senior Actuaries. I have also been greatly impressed by the quality of the younger members coming up through the profession through my interactions with the Commercial Actuarial Practice and Professionalism courses. Last week I got to experience the immense joy, pride and relief of our newest fellows at the Sydney Graduation Dinner.
The Actuarial profession is a great one. Yes, there are challenges but with challenges come great opportunities. And I have an unshakeable belief that the value of the Actuarial profession can only increase, in a world with increasing importance attributed to both conduct and extracting valuable insights from ever increasing information.
I look forward to continuing to work with you all. I am also keen to get your views on both the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead and I look forward to meeting you on the Presidential Tour throughout Australia and Asia or at the CEO luncheons.
Register for an upcoming Presidential dinner with John Evans or Asia Tour dinner with CEO Elayne Grace and guests.
Dates for your city are below:
*Rachel Botsman – ‘Who can you trust?’
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