Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Actuarial profession and the Risk Function - from 'land grab' to 'colonisation'?

Back in the early days of this Blog I used to post frequently on the Solvency II-sponsored creep towards Risk functions in insurers being 'Chiefed' by members of the actuarial profession as a matter of course rather than choice (here, here and here for a start). It was even a thread in a presentation I delivered to ILAG in late 2012 around areas of control function crossover, in particular that the actuarial profession was acknowledging that there were professional deficiencies in their ability to address the basics of an actuarial function under Solvency II, yet preferred the ambition of conquering a newer (less arduous?) space ahead of remedying them.

Whilst a quant is no doubt a decent fit for such a task, it was an evident snub to the nascent Risk Management 'profession', who took umbridge at the implication of such compulsion from the UK regulator in April 2011, though with seemingly little impact. However, limits to the amount of time and money bodies such as the IRM and FERMA can throw at developing a one-size-fits-all Risk Management qualification package that can appeal to quants and non-quants alike, plus some furious inter-squabbling in the ISO 31000 world, are certainly not lending any credence to "Risk Management" as a profession in its own right as we stand.

Risk and Actuarial professions - 'Poles' apart?
Over in Ireland, the opportunity for the Actuarial profession to secure an additional control function has been pursued so rabidly that the SAI incoming and outgoing presidents were recently able to congratulate themselves on having busted into "the new frontier" of Risk, and are now moving on into "colonisation mode" (p2)! In the UK, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries already seem to consider that area of influence secured judging by the new president's remarks recently, indicating a desire to influence more mainstream debates than those around risk management systems and corporate governance.

The UK and Ireland don't appear to be the only ones afflicted by the perception of compulsory quants in Risk functions. Munich Re's excellent Knowledge Series delivers a Germanic take that there is "no doubt" that professional mathematicians will be needed for tomorrow's Risk functions.

When considering the history of the Actuarial profession (beautifully summarised here), there should be no reason why Risk Management cannot achieve a similar position given time, regardless of the disparity in existing approaches from representative bodies. A modular qualification which can prepare a 'risk professional' for their favoured activity (insurance buying/continuity management/financial risk/op risk/ERM) is surely an ambition which those bodies can harbour in concert? My concern would naturally be that I probably don't have another 50-100 years to wait for the that convergence to happen and enhance my own career prospects!

Or maybe I do - does anyone know an expert in longevity?

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