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The professions must adapt to a changing landscape

As Winston Churchill famously said, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see”. This was the view taken at the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) latest event in its Professionalism Lecture Series, held at London’s Grand Connaught Rooms on October 11th 2017. The panel discussion, chaired by Tesco Bank CEO and long-time IFoA member Benny Higgins, was entitled “Can Professional Regulation and Organisational Culture prepare us better for the next Financial Crisis?”

The panel consisted of IFoA President Marjorie Ngwenya, banking industry heavyweight Lady Susan Rice CBE and Dr Daniel Susskind, co-author of The Future of the Professions. They provided lively debate at a well-attended event, with 250 people in the audience and 440 groups and individuals joining via the livestream.

The panel discussed the way the world is changing, requiring actuaries - and all professions - to adapt their technical skillset. Those in the professions need to be ready to embrace technology and move into different roles and fields. Panellists acknowledged that there is much value placed in professional judgement but that judgement must also adapt and remain relevant as ways of working change.

Benny Higgins
Benny Higgins FIA

Benny Higgins said, "In every walk of life customers need to be served professionally. The role of acknowledged professions is critical. But the skills required and the manner in which customers are served are evolving and could change dramatically. The impact of artificial intelligence could be one of a number of catalysts. The challenge for all professions is to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape."

Marjorie Ngwenya talked about this being an exciting time to be an actuary. “I believe the actuarial profession is one that learns from the past and works to be future-proof - by adapting and by embracing innovation and change. The hallmark of actuaries is the combination of technical skillset and ethical and professional values; and the professional judgement to apply both in the interests of their clients. Actuaries command trust not because of their technical competence, but because of their integrity and public accountability.” Ngwenya went on to explain that the evidence of the financial crisis shows that the need for professional values and judgement will continue if we are to maintain the public trust.

As an organisation and the professional regulator, it’s important that we at the IFoA ensure our own code of conduct reflects the realities of today’s workplace. The Actuaries’ Code applies to all our members and is designed to support them in maintaining the very high standards of professionalism with which they are associated. We are currently undertaking a consultation process on proposed changes. We encourage you to read the proposals and share your views. The deadline for responses is 17 January 2018.