August 2020 marks ten years since the merger of the Institute of Actuaries of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Faculty of Actuaries in Scotland – and the formation of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA).
The merger was a historic reunion for the actuarial profession in Britain, healing a professional schism dating back to 1856. Though the body that emerged from the merger was always intended to serve members, the profession and the public interest beyond Britain’s borders.
Since the 1990s, the two bodies had shared some functions, so an eventual merger may have seemed an inevitability. But in 2009 a merger proposal failed to gain the required level of majority of votes from members in both bodies.
Efforts to secure the merger were led by presidential teams in both organisations, including Ronnie Bowie as the last president of the Faculty and the first of the IFoA, Nigel Masters as last President of the Institute, Jane Curtis, who was proposed as the second president of the IFoA and the first female President of either body, as well as the then chief executive, Caroline Instance.
Learning the lessons of the 2009 merger attempt, the vote was secured at a 2010 special meeting of the membership in May 2010 for application to receive Privy Council approval of the new body (and ceasing of the Faculty) effective from 1 August 2010.
Ronnie Bowie said: “Although it’s a decade since the merger, it feels like only yesterday. And that may be because, in the three years between 2008 and 2011, preparing for the merger was the dominant thing in my professional life.
“Back in 2008, it seemed obvious to me that merger was the right thing. In many ways we were already a single professional body. We had a single set of exams, we had one executive and one management board. But we had two councils and two names. And that mattered, because the rest of the world, and even our sister actuarial bodies, didn’t know where to come for an authoritative voice.
“Our members understood this. They told us that they wanted a voice, where the actuarial voice was too often silent, even though with all our skills and experience, we had an important contribution to make.
“And so it has turned out. If I look today at the influence we have, actuaries appearing on radio and television, and the number of times today that the actuarial opinion is sought, it is light years away from where it was a decade ago.
“So I look back on the merger with an enormous amount of satisfaction and pride. That vision that we had ten years ago has turned into a reality.”