Actuaries, are you prepared for the future?

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Barry Shannon, Senior Risk Manager at Standard Life and member of the Scottish Board of the IFoA, asks whether the profession is prepared for the financial future.

The role of an actuary has often been described as “to make financial sense of the future”. As individuals, we might tend to focus on the “financial sense” aspect of our role.  But how prepared are we for the future?  The rapidly evolving fields of Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Financial Technology (FinTech) are expanding technological boundaries at a fast pace and offer exciting opportunities for the profession.

Whether we like it or not, we – and anyone with a smartphone – are all part of the recent boom in data gathering that will form the building blocks of future developments.  To take full advantage of the future we should be prepared to embrace these emerging fields.


Preparing the profession for the future

The IFoA has been encouraging members to engage with the future through a number of working parties and initiatives, like the Risk Management in a Digital World working party.  This working party was established to form views and recommendations to assist actuarial practitioners in risk management considerations relating to operating in a digital world and has delivered initial findings at IFoA conferences throughout 2018.

The IFoA has also been addressing the emergent field of Data Science, with the 2017 Autumn Lecture exploring Data Science and its potential for Actuaries.  The IFoA will host its first ever virtual conference exploring Data Science: Opportunities for Actuaries in Spring 2019.


Focus on FinTech

FinTech is an emerging industry that uses new technology to enhance activities in finance and aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services in the future.  The FinTech sector is growing fast and there are now more than 80 FinTech focused small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) based in Scotland alone, according to FinTech Scotland (a joint initiative by a number of financial services firms, the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish Government).