COVID-19 Working Group – what has been useful and what else do members need?

In response to the ongoing pandemic situation, the Institute formed a COVID-19 Working Group, led by Jennifer Lang. Over the past 10 months, the working group has produced a number of resources to support actuaries in their roles. The Pandemic Resource Centre houses articles, Pandemic Briefings, discussion forums and useful links that inform members and the wider community of the impacts of the pandemic.

Last month we asked the membership what resources they had found helpful to support their work through the pandemic this year, and what else they would like to see from the Institute.

Who answered the survey?

We received 108 responses to our survey (2% of the profession!). Respondents were older on average and more likely to be Fellows, compared with the profile of the membership. We received responses from members across all practice areas.

While we’ve all been personally affected by COVID and associated lock-downs, 78% of respondents also confirmed that COVID considerations have been directly relevant to their professional work.

Which resources did members use and find helpful throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?

You told us that you’ve used a combination of publicly available information and Actuaries Institute information.

The most common publicly available sources you’ve used include:

  • Government webpages (e.g. State health, ABS)
  • Daily news (e.g. ABC, Fin Review)
  • In house materials provided by members’ employers
  • Worldometer and other tracking sites.

 

Most respondents accessed the following Actuaries Institute COVID-19 resources:

  1. Actuaries Digital Articles were the most cited resources as being accessed (85% of respondents) and 95% of those who accessed these resources rated these as 3 or more out of 5 (1 not helpful, 5 very helpful).
  2. Pandemic briefing notes were the next most cited resource, with specific positive feedback about the Business Interruptions briefing note. 97% of those who accessed these resources rated these as 3 or more out of 5. Those who didn’t access these briefings said the content wasn’t relevant to them.
  3. General information from the Pandemic Resource Centre was the next used resource, with 93% of those who accessed these resources rated these as 3 or more out of 5. Comments indicated that the wide range of topics was useful, and that the information was quickly consumable.
  4. The COVID Weekly roundup was also accessed by 71% of respondents, who indicated that these were particularly interesting in the early days of the pandemic. Some suggested that they become less relevant as time progressed but the areas that were quoted as most useful were the following (in descending order)
    1. Australian case statistics and trends (71% agreed helpful)
    2. Regulatory and government activity (62%)
    3. Global case statistics and trends (59%)
    4. Industry activity (55%)
    5. Medical research (36%)
  5. Webinars were also accessed by over half of the respondents, with mixed feedback depending on how relevant the topics were to individuals.
  6. Pandemic Resource Centre Discussion Forums were used by a small number (40) of respondents with some people saying they couldn’t gain access or chose not to participate.

 

Did non-actuaries and/or management find the Institute’s COVID working group materials useful?

While the majority of respondents (73%) indicated that they were NOT aware of any other professionals finding the WG materials useful, there were several respondents who suggested that it was very helpful to have Actuaries Institute information to share with colleagues.

Some respondents also indicated that some Directors and other executives in their companies found the materials useful.

We also asked what else members would find helpful to support them in their roles.

Responses included:

  • Additional guidance / forums / surveys around assumption setting, stress testing, modelling, capital impacts, etc.
  • Mortality research, and other research such as long term COVID impacts, indirect impact of COVID (e.g. unemployment) on insurance / financial services.
  • Continued advocacy to government (especially regarding superannuation).
  • More practice related content, not just medical /science.
  • Smaller group discussions in addition to the existing larger webinars/ briefings.

 

Based on these responses it sounds like you want more practice area guidance, access to research and advocacy, and we will be working with the working group subgroups and the practice committees to work out the best way to do that in 2021. It also appears that members prefer to digest information via articles and briefing notes, and we will keep this in mind when planning future communications.

We also heard that members hope that the Institute will continue to raise the profile of the profession. Actuaries are seen by many to be unbiased and transparent and well-placed to publish evidence-based commentary.

Overall, the feedback on the work that the Actuaries Institute and the COVID working group has done this year was very positive. Members indicated that the work of the Institute has been fast, helpful, proactive, details and organised.

Are you interested contributing to the Institute’s COVID-19 response?

The COVID 19 working group comprises volunteer members who themselves have juggled pandemic-induced challenges such as homeschooling children and hunting for toilet paper through lock-down this year. If you are interested in contributing to the continued activities of this group into 2021, please get in touch with myself or Jennifer Lang.

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

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