We understandably all have our thoughts occupied by the global crisis caused by COVID-19 and particularly the extraordinary response by public servants and key workers generally in the UK.
Whatever certainties we might have understood before the crisis have been rigorously shaken by the events of 2020 and, for now at least, we all appreciate even more the global risks that can very quickly threaten even the most economically advanced societies.
The risk landscape has undoubtedly been changed and our emergence into what has frequently been dubbed the 'new normal' will also be challenging across a number of themes both economic and social.
It has fallen to the actuaries in the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) at this time to renew the strategy that guides our planning and development into this particular uncertain future over the next 5 years.
For 100 years now, actuaries in GAD have worked across government and the wider public sector. They have employed their particularly specialised skillsets in an evolving and expanding range of domains from social security through public and state pensions to insurance, risk and modelling.
Our mission is 'to improve the stewardship of public sector finances by supporting effective decision-making and robust financial reporting through actuarial analysis, modelling and advice'.
In the broadest senses, actuaries can be described as problem solvers and strategic thinkers with a deep understanding of financial systems. We generally come from a mathematical and statistical background and are rigorously trained to a very high professional standard in our areas of expertise.
GAD 2025 Strategy
Albert Einstein described mathematics as the 'poetry of logical ideas' and the GAD 2025 Strategy looks forward to the continued deployment of our specialist skills on an ever more demanding range of problems for our clients whose demands always come first with us.
A major theme of our 2025 Strategy is the anticipation of that future demand and the maintenance of and investment in our 'fitness for the future' in order to meet it.
This means the continued modernisation of our approach, the development of efficiencies in repeatable work and the innovative use of data analytics and artificial intelligence where this can add value and extra insight to our assignments. Our relatively small team of around 200 actuaries, analysts, business professionals and trainees are committed to developing their skills as part of this theme.
Increasingly we’re using the latest statistical and analytical software to analyse what can often be massive datasets. And our proven expertise in managing large projects with multiple stakeholders is a useful by-product of engaging our services.
Skills, values and objectives
Our strategy also includes a specific theme of inclusivity aligned to the overall leadership position of the Civil Service generally and features particularly challenging objectives.
Good mathematicians are already a scarce resource and we want to ensure that we are open to all who wish to make use of these skills in public service. Indeed, we have added 'inclusive' to our other departmental values of 'expert', 'innovative' and 'collaborative'.
Trusted civil servants
Actuaries are part of the Analysis Function coalition which is recognised across government alongside other government professions.
Unlike other groups in this coalition, we actuaries are not as embedded in individual government departments but operate on a fee-charging basis to the two-thirds of central departments and other public bodies with which GAD has a business relationship. This model means that the specialist resource is available from trusted civil servants when and where it is needed most.
As such and because we are few in number, we can often fly under the radar. But, as another famous mathematician Alan Turing once said, “Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things that no one can imagine”.