On the actuarial tortoise and the nimbler hare

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I was very struck by the cover page of this month Actuary magazine and the editor Dan Georgescu’s comments on combining the traits of the actuarial tortoise and nimbler hare. There has been a lot of celebration of our responsiveness and speed in the Covid-19 crisis. But let us not forget deep reflection, profound thought and erudite analysis that are central to our profession.

In Aesop’s fable, it is the actuarial tortoise that wins the day. As I discussed in my previous posting on Tip 41, leadership effectiveness depends on context and timing.

In the May issue of The Actuary, we read about the many examples of how actuaries around the world are responding to the many challenges surrounding the profession. And we are living in a time of unprecedented change.

Even before the seismic events that unfolded across the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pressing need for the actuarial profession to evolve and rediscover its sense of purpose was clear. By raising our sights to the horizon, we can understand the changes shaping our professional lives to adapt better and flourish.

There is a revolution in economic thinking that aims to create a more sustainable world to avoid the tragedy of the commons and tragedy of the horizons. The actuarial profession will need to dig deep into our resources change the conversation in months and years ahead.

We debated the centrality of adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to problem-solving. The IFoA’s VSMD (Vision Skillsets Mindsets Domains) strategy, our desire to rekindle thought leadership in the profession, and our public interest role are coalescing in a powerful way.

We cannot rush in with the solutions.

We need to engage and listen to the people. We need to pay attention to context. We need to identify the right opportunities for intervention. We need the requisite time.

In some of these challenges, thought and reflection are more important than quick responses.

Judgment of timing and context is critical.

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