United in Our Diversity: The Profession Meets in South Africa

McLaughlin Last month I was one of 1580 members of our profession worldwide who attended the International Congress of Actuaries in Cape Town, South Africa. The theme of the five-day event was “United in Our Diversity,” and a diverse group it was, with 101 countries represented. (As an interesting side note, the largest contingent of attendees was from Denmark!)

You could ask each of the attendees what they learned from the event, and each will have their own themes that sum up their experience, but here are a few things I learned and observed:

Actuaries were encouraged to speak up! The keynote speakers encouraged us as a profession to make our voices heard on matters of public interest. Our training makes us well qualified to communicate and educate the public around issues such as mortality, social insurance and risk.

The quality of the “scientific” presentations was very high. The technical papers covering actuarial topics (called “scientific”) in general were reviewed for quality prior to their acceptance for the program. This additional step in the process tended to produce higher quality presentations, an approach that perhaps the SOA should consider for our meetings.

There is a great deal of excitement surrounding the global CERA credential. Now that the treaty has been signed, the signatory organizations held an informal board meeting to discuss the formation of a Verein (an Association) and the approval of additional organizations to offer the CERA credential. The SOA has set a great example, and now actuaries around the world will benefit from our experience.

The importance of enterprise risk management is recognized not only in North America, but throughout the world. People worldwide are realizing that actuarial skills extend beyond insurance and pensions. At this meeting, the International Actuarial Association began forming its own risk management section in order to explore and share information on ERM worldwide.

Our profession is becoming truly global in nature. This was a great opportunity to have a dialogue on common issues that affect actuaries worldwide. The unofficial theme of the event was characterized by the African concept of ubuntu, which emphasizes community, sharing and generosity—or, how “we benefit each other.”

Finding more ways for the members of our profession worldwide to learn from each other will benefit all of us! What do you think are the most important issues affecting our profession worldwide, and how can we address those issues?

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One response to "United in Our Diversity: The Profession Meets in South Africa"

  • Shirla-Ann Davis says:

    I personally think very highly of this profession because of the thinks that it allows us to do. Because of this I was kind of bothered by the fact that if you tell someone you are an actuary they most times have no idea what that is. I think we should speak out more and put ourselves out there for more public posts.

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