I don’t know what I don’t know

A member splatted against the relentless forehead of a streamlined, efficient, simplified and clarified IFoA

So the proposals which I wrote about last month have been reconsidered by the newly elected Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) Council on 15 October, where they agreed some tweaks to the original proposals as follows:

Council devised and ultimately voted for revised measures based on the member feedback it had received on the previously approved reforms. You told us that you wanted the new President and Council (2023-2024) to reconsider the reforms and we agreed this at our meeting on 1 September 2023. You told us that you wanted better communication and more engagement and we have embarked on one of the biggest member engagement exercises in our history which will continue next year into the role of Council. You told us that you were uncomfortable with the idea that actuaries would be in the minority on the board. We have responded by changing the makeup of the new IFoA Board so that it will continue to have a majority of actuaries. You told us that you wanted safeguards to ensure the IFoA Board could be held to account and that a “bad board” could not self-perpetuate. We have responded by ensuring that appointments of members and independents to the IFoA Board will need to be ratified by Council on first appointment and every 3 years for the remainder of their term.

So am I happy now? The answer is no in some respects and I don’t know in others. No I am not happy that a member vote still seems to be proposed for 2026, giving this proposal the inside track to becoming the final permanent governance structure by only asking for a vote after most of us will have become quite hazy about what went before it.

I don’t know because we are still not going to be given sight of any part of the DAC Beachcroft report to which these proposals are supposed to be a response. We are therefore being asked to completely trust the description of what was in it by the very people trying to sell us their proposals. That is a big ask in my view.

However it is also difficult to raise any formal objections to the proposed amendment to Regulations 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12 and 13 in this state of enforced ignorance. I will therefore be raising the concerns I have set out here by contacting the Corporate Secretary at the IFoA. If you feel that you can go further and formally object on the basis of what you have or have not been told, then those objections should be raised by 30 January to be considered.

Perhaps I am making too much of what I don’t know, but I was struck by the references here to any future consultation being confined to the role of Council, with the rest of the governance structure seemingly regarded as done and dusted. Also if you watch to the end of the little video there, you are confronted with this message:

Is our ability to continue to self-regulate at all really under threat? I would have expected to be told rather more about why this is before being asked for my views in a member organisation such as the IFoA.

I accept that many of the IFoA’s functions may need a more streamlined system to run them effectively. There are many different alternative structures which we could consider to achieve this. But these proposals are about changing the very nature of the IFoA and that requires full disclosure to members about why we are doing this and a chance to vote before we do so in my view. More than a tweak, in other words.

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