The frog in the water - the future of the actuarial profession

The frog in the water - the future of the actuarial profession

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Speakers: Lesley Traverso, Jules Gribble

The actuarial profession, globally, is at a cross roads. It can continue down a 'safe' and narrow path of relying on the 'statutory castle' to provide guaranteed employment for actuaries. This carries the risk of self-justifying the typical 'technical' stereotype with the consequent risk of increasingly becoming a 'compliance' oriented profession. Alternatively, the professional can look outward and explicitly emphasise its considerable and unique set of transferable skills to provide a strong professional value proposition to a wide range of users. Further, the professional bodies need to come clear on the value proposition it puts forward to its current and future members.

Many of the specific technical skills actuaries have are shared with other technical service providers. This overlap is increasing with time and technology. The actuarial profession needs to more clearly articulate the reasons why actuaries can continue to provide value and services that others do not. This draws on both the breadth of the training that actuaries receive and the core professional characteristics they bring to their work. Actuaries should communicate frankly with their clients in their language, provide value through giving timely, unbiased, relevant and practical advice (and alternatives) to inform and support decision making, and behaving ethically, professionally, and openly while being aware of and protecting the public interest.

Users of actuarial services should include but not be limited to the traditional users of actuarial services. Reflecting on the Australian experience we contend the profession needs to take a bolder outward looking stance and avoid the fate of the frog that stayed in the over-heating water.

We provide a paradigm in which these issues can be made explicit, discussed and then addressed. We suggest there is a clear need for such discussions to commence before the water gets too hot.

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