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Regulating in the public interest

In this blog, Neil Buckley, the IFoA’s newly appointed Chair of Regulation Board, talks about his vision as he starts his term

Neil BuckleyI will start with a brief introduction. I am Neil Buckley and I am delighted to have been appointed as the new Chair of the Regulation Board. My background is as a lawyer and a regulator. Latterly, I have brought these experiences together as the Chief Executive of the Legal Services Board (LSB), the oversight regulator for the legal profession in England and Wales.

Regulating in the public interest has been the key endeavour of all the jobs I have had for the last twenty years. At the LSB I have been responsible for the regulation of the professions of which I am a member (I am a non practising Barrister and Solicitor). At the heart of this role is setting standards, as well as ensuring compliance with them, to promote a strong and diverse profession that supports the rule of law and increases access to justice. 

I am also a lay Council Member of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) which regulates Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians and pharmacy premises across England, Wales and Scotland. The GPhC aims to protect the public and give them assurance that they will receive safe and effective care when using pharmacy services.

At the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) there are a number of areas that I wish to focus upon as I take up this role. First and foremost as the new Chair I want to ensure that the Regulation Board continues to be ‘well led’. In this regard I would like to thank Des Hudson for his stewardship of the Board for the last six years. I will of course bring my own ideas to what it means for a Board to be ‘well led’. A number of those ideas link to other principles that I believe are key to independent public interest regulation. They are accountability and assurance.

Regulation in the public interest means being accountable to the public as well as to the profession. An underpinning for accountability to these groups is transparency both in relation to decision making processes and the substantive decision itself. This is a subject on which I am sure the Regulation Board will wish to consider what more can it do.

Assurance covers many areas. Two are vital for confidence in independent regulation. The first is that standards that have been set are being met (and action taken if this is not the case). The second is assurance that regulation is truly independent and in the public interest.

Again, these are subjects over which the Board will need to deliberate in the coming months. These discussions will be driven in part by proposals, stemming from the Kingman Review, relating to the future regulatory framework for the actuarial profession. How to secure accountability and assurance are issues that are central to those discussions.

I would also add another principle to guide me in my time as Chair; that is aspiration.

The month that I start this exciting new role, July 2019, marks two key anniversaries. The first will be the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. The second will be the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. You might wonder what connection there can be between the patrons of a gay bar in New York being arrested for protesting about harassment and two men stepping onto the surface of the moon.

One connection is courage. The people behind these landmark events overcame their fears and undertook actions that were so significant that they inspire us today. They also changed the world. As a man married to a man I know that those bar patrons started a chain of events that continue to have impact today. The moon landing similarly showed us that we could ‘reach for the stars’ and not just dream about them but go there.

As the new Regulation Board Chair these anniversaries encourage me to ensure that as a Board we have a vision and determination to achieve the optimal outcomes for the actuarial profession and the public. We should also be bold in ensuring we take the right decisions. 

I look forward to meeting many of you during my time as Chair and to deepening my knowledge and understanding of the actuarial profession and the important work you all do.