Tilling The Soil

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In the August issue of The Actuary, I penned my thoughts on the importance of being bolder. Below is the excerpt.

There is a broad agreement that the IFoA and the profession needs to be more agile and respond to changes faster, more courageously and more imaginatively. A senior actuary described the IFoA as ‘treacle’; I think Ira Progoff’s metaphor, that “under the pressure of events, our lives have become hard-packed like soil” that has not been tilled for many years, is appropriate. I invite all of us to till the soil, so we can flourish on our own ground.

In my presidential address, I made much of the DNA of the actuary, because it describes what unites us as a group across many domains and geographies. We must not drift away from this ground.

Frank Redington was brilliant in identifying our four quintessential values (accuracy, cautiousness, consistency and reticence) so comprehensively – and he asked us to create room for impulse and imagination. For me, this means taking measured risks and doing things that we do not dare to because of our innate cautiousness. I hope we pluck up the courage to take a stand on the many social issues of our time. We can be bolder, and not converge on consensus positions.

Recently, an interviewee explained how she thought about diversity. She said it is our capacity to allow and encourage perspectives that are totally different from our own (or the majority’s), because of the different context brought by a different person’s life story, nature, circumstance or condition. I think that captures it.