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The general duty to communicate appropriately

8.1 Principle 6 of the Code provides that: Members must communicate appropriately.”

8.2 Members are expected to present information in a way that is accurate, impartial and in accordance with relevant professional standards  so that users who are relying on that information can both understand the context of the information and be clear about the message being conveyed.  Communication is, therefore, a key part of a Member’s role.  In order for Members to ensure that their communications (both written and oral) are appropriate, understanding the purpose and nature of their instruction is key.  

Judging what is appropriate

8.3 Appropriate communication is very often a matter of putting oneself in the place of the intended audience.  For example: 

  • Is the communication courteous and professional? 
  • Are recommendations or options to be considered and the implications of each set out clearly?
  • Is it clear what you are asking of the user where you are requesting something from them?   
  • Will they be able to navigate easily to the sections that are most relevant to their needs?
  • Will they understand the basis on which estimates and calculations have been made, and the appropriate degree of confidence in the results?  
  • Above all, is the document fit for purpose, and appropriate for the use to which it is to be put?  

Answering these questions requires not just good judgement and a high standard of written communication, but also a degree of imagination and empathy.


Taking responsibility for your work

8.4 Amplification 6.2 requires that Members show clearly that they take responsibility for their work.  It is essential to the trust in which the profession is held that there is clear accountability for any work carried out by Members.  It would not be appropriate therefore for communications to users to be presented anonymously, especially where they are likely to influence or be relied upon by the user.

8.5 It may sometimes be the case that the person taking ultimate responsibility for work has not themselves carried out the bulk of the work.  In cases like this, the person taking responsibility for the work will need to ensure that they have fully understood what has been done and have carried out any relevant checks before signing the work.

8.6 Users are entitled to expect that the Member who has carried out a piece of work is satisfied that the information being provided is suitable and accurate.  Members are expected to ensure that they are never knowingly associated with misleading information. 


Social and other media 

8.7 This section details some of the considerations Members may wish to have in mind when using social media. Much of the guidance would however apply equally to Members’ communications using other types of media, for example television or the printed press.

8.8 When used appropriately social media can be an extremely useful tool which allows Members to communicate quickly and effectively with other Members as well as the wider public.  Discussion forums and social networking sites enable Members to reach a larger audience than they might otherwise be able to and are a way for Members to share ideas and develop professional working relationships.  While the use of social media is therefore encouraged, its many benefits need to be balanced against the risk that it can sometimes pose to a Member’s professional reputation if used inappropriately.

8.9 Members can put their professional reputation and membership of the IFoA at risk if they act in a way on social media that is unprofessional or unlawful.  This might include (but is not limited to): 

  • sharing confidential information inappropriately - often there will be legal requirements prohibiting the disclosure of certain personal and sensitive information whether online or otherwise; 
  • posting inappropriate comments about others (including users and other Members); 
  • using inappropriate language; 
  • implicating oneself in unprofessional or unlawful conduct or encouraging others to behave unprofessionally or unlawfully; 
  • posting comments that are bullying or threatening; and
  • posting anything that may be viewed as inappropriately discriminatory or that incites hatred or such discrimination. 

8.10 Information shared online can be copied and passed on much more quickly than by any other means and potentially to a much wider audience.  Once something is published online it is no longer private.  What is more, once shared, information published online can remain in the public domain for a very long time.  It is important, therefore, that before posting anything online, Members carefully consider the content of what they are posting and how it might be perceived by others. 


Communications in personal life

8.11 Nothing in this Guidance is intended to discourage Members from communicating through social media, however, it is important to remember that even when posting in personal forums, others may be aware that you are a Member of the IFoA and any information you provide or opinions you express may be judged in that light of that. This is particularly true where you identify yourself as being a Member in those forums.  It is also worth remembering that the publication of information on social media carries the same obligations as for other types of communications and you therefore need to take care not to engage in any conduct online that threatens your ability to comply with your requirements under the Code or impact on any of your other professional obligations.

8.12 If you are unsure whether something you are considering posting online is appropriate, think about what the impact might be if the information once shared is then disseminated widely. Remember that there can be consequences.  It is not only the information that you post directly that has the potential to call into question your professionalism; endorsing someone else’s point of view on a public post also has the potential to impact on how others perceive you.  If in doubt, it is probably safer not to post than to post something you are unsure about and then regret it later.  

8.13 When engaging in online discussion, be aware that the views you express may provoke a response; it is important to be open to the opinions of others and to treat others with respect, even if they are disagreeing with your view.

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Events calendar

  • SIAS Event: Navigating Organisational Politics Positively

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    3 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The term 'office politics' usually has a lot of negative connotations and indeed an inability to be able to navigate an organisation's formal processes and interact effectively with others at work can have far reaching adverse consequences.

  • Spaces available

    Public scrutiny of what investment funds deliver for consumers continues to be high profile, with the FCA’s Asset Management Market Study requiring fund managers to make (and publish) an annual assessment of value for authorised funds from the end of 2019.

  • Reimagining ageing

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7Q
    14 June 2019

    Spaces available

    Reimagining ageing, hosted by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, in partnership with the ILC

  • Spaces available

    Increasing global concern over the impact of climate change has recently led to public scrutiny over the adequacy of existing risk management practices by insurance firms and pension schemes in dealing with these challenges, that potentially impact both individual actuaries and the IFOA generally.

     

  • Pensions Conference 2019

    Bristol Marriott Hotel City Centre, 2 Lower Castle Street, Old Market, Bristol, BS1 3AD
    18-19 June 2019
    Spaces available

    Covering current topics and industry trends, the conference also includes a pre-conference evening dinner (18 June) giving you the opportunity to develop your network. 

  • KSS event – FinTech and The Actuarial Profession

    EY, Atria One, 144 Morrison Street, Edinburgh
    19 June 2019

    Spaces available

    This KSS talk from FinTech Scotland's CEO will explore the mission to create an integrated Fintech ecosystem through provision of funding, support, infrastructure and talent that recognises and responds to the needs of all stakeholders - and the overarching aim for Scotland to be one of the top 5 Fintech global leaders by 2020.

    To book your place, please email Barry_Shannon@standardlife.com 

  • Current Issues in General Insurance (CIGI) 2019

    Inmarsat, 99 City Road, London, EC1Y 1BJ
    19 June 2019

    Spaces available

    CIGI is a well-established one-day seminar designed to increase awareness and encourage discussion on a variety of topical issues across the general insurance industry. 

    There will be an excellent and diverse line-up of speakers to provide a variety of perspectives and challenge covering technical and professional areas. 

  • Cass Event – New Thinking about Deferred Annuities

    Cass Business School, Executive Education Facilities 200 Aldersgate St, London EC1A 4HD
    21 June 2019

    Spaces available

    Our motivation for discussing this important subject comes from some exciting recent research which has analysed the impact of behavioural factors on the decision to purchase an annuity. This work has shown that behavioural factors can explain the well-known low demand for immediate annuities but this research also identifies an important opportunity in relation to deferred annuities (DA). The research suggests that these factors lead to positive incentives to purchase a DA and that, for longer deferred periods, a DA could be an attractive product for both consumers and insurers.

  • IFoA/SAS Joint Professional Skills Training – Singapore

    Room 903, NTUC Centre, Level 9, One Marina Boulevard, Singapore 018989
    25 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and Singapore Actuarial Society (SAS) are organising a joint Professional Skills Training (PST) in Singapore. This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Life, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • AGM and Presidential Address 2019 + Volunteer and Member Drinks Reception

    The Hub  Castlehill Edinburgh EH1 2NE
    26 June 2019

    Spaces available

    Notice is hereby given that the ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the INSTITUTE AND FACULTY OF ACTUARIES will be held at The Hub, Edinburgh on Wednesday 26 June 2019 at 16.30 (Preceded by tea from 16.00) and followed by a PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS given by John Taylor.

  • IFAM event - Actuarial Teachers’ & Researchers’ Conference 2019

    Institute for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics Department of Mathematical  Sciences The University of Liverpool Mathematical Sciences Building Peach Street Liverpool, L69 7ZL
    27 June 2019 - 29 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics (IFAM) at the University of Liverpool is pleased to host the 2019 Actuarial Teachers’ and Researchers’ Conference from 27-28 June 2019. This annual two-day event has been running annually now for many years, each time hosted by a different university, and provides all those interested in actuarial research and education a great opportunity to share their ideas and catch up on the latest developments.

  • IFoA/ASM Joint Professional Skills Training – Kuala Lumpur

    Menara AIA, Auditorium, 99 Jalan Ampang, 50450, Kuala Lumpur
    28 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM) are organising a joint Professional Skills Training (PST) in Kuala Lumpur. This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Life, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • SIAS: The Impact of Air Pollution on Health and Life Expectancy

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    2 July 2019

    Spaces available

    Air pollution has gained increasing attention lately. Nicola Oliver, head of longevity and mortality research for Medical Intelligence, will discuss not only the impacts of air pollution on health and life expectancy but also how as an industry we should be addressing it.

  • GIRO Conference 2019

    EICC, The Exchange, 150 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8EE
    24-26 September 2019
    Spaces available

    GIRO is attended annually by over 800 delegates and speakers who are keen to discuss key topics such as Pricing, Reserving, Modelling and the future of the insurance industry. GIRO 2018 was a huge success and we have opened bookings early for what we hope will be another brilliant conference at the EICC in Edinburgh this year.