PFS Consulting

Are Actuaries still relevant?

This paper summarises a recent paper co-authored by Jules Gribble. It considers how continuing professional education, a core component of maintaining professional currency and relevance, needs to be reassessed and revised to address professionals evolving needs in a rapidly changing world.

The Actuaries’ Institute Council recently established a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Committee to review professional development activities and their delivery to members.  CPD is an expression of the professional curiosity and purpose inherent in our roles and obligation to provide high quality professional services. CPD should therefore be embraced and enjoyed as an integral part of our careers. This committee is reviewing how CPD can become more relevant to members and better support them to manage and progress their own learning. We seek a wide range of inputs to get a balanced perspective and better understand member’s CPD needs, particularly in an environment where there is a vast range of CPD material available from the Institute and other providers.

Effective CPD should be tailored to your individual needs and have a definitive, outcomes focused purpose. The Lowther and MacMillan papers referenced below point out a few ways to make CPD authentic. Having good structures enables actuaries to be deliberate and strategic in the personal development. We intend to build on the current CPD processes to make them supportive and user friendly, to better organise material to make them easier to navigate and expand access to new material (including from other providers). We also want to expand the range of delivery options to support better access and utilisation. All this should support your changing needs as your career develops. We need your input and views to do this effectively, so encourage you to participate in an upcoming survey on how our CPD programs can be improved.

The CPD review takes a broad view, considering both technical and professional skills. Professional skills include the range of skills needed to enable translation of the technical skills into recommendations to support decision makers and drive actions and outcomes.

These include skills such as communication, networking, influencing, critical problem solving and reasoning, people management, negotiating, commercial awareness, constructive decision making and ethical behaviour. Many of these skills are not specific to actuaries and so could conceivably be sourced from broader corporate CPD offerings.

In Australia, as globally, we are seeing major shifts in the business environment and in community expectations.  The impact of the February 2018 Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (the Hayne Report) will drive significant changes in expectations of appropriate professional behaviours. This is already being seen in increased supervisory activity from both APRA and ASIC. A benefit of these changes is the opportunity for actuaries to improve their profile as thought leaders and add real value to the community. The recently developed Climate Index shows how actuaries can demonstrate this added value.

The Institute recognises the need for an increased focus on the professional skills of actuaries and wants to understand how this can be further enhanced. This should create shared benefits; for individuals it will develop their capability and careers; for businesses, they should see improved contributions to business outcomes; and for the profession we want to see continued growth and increased recognition of the value the profession can add in traditional and emerging practice areas.

The actuarial profession has always been held in high regard in terms of professionalism, ethics, quality and integrity. Effective CPD protects the profession, actively supports it maintaining its reputation, and supports its members developing along their career paths.

To ensure the profession’s ongoing relevance in a rapidly changing professional world, we believe that now is a good time to review and enhance CPD approaches, delivery and content.

All members will soon be asked to participate in a CPD survey to provide input on how the review of CPD may progress. We encourage you to respond and share your views. The papers referred to and other material that provide more background can be found on the Actuarial Society of South Africa’s website.

To learn more about the work that PFS Consulting does please contact Jules Gribble.

Background: This paper is based on the article by Jules Gribble, Lesley Traverso and Caroline Stevenson published in Actuaries Digital in February 2020. Jules chairs the current Institute Council’s Continuing Professional Devlopment Committee.