The Presidential Address celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Institute of Actuaries by recalling speeches and press comments from the time of its foundation in 1848, and goes on to draw parallels between the issues of the day and those facing the profession in 1998. Foremost of these, there is a continuing emphasis on the public interest; it remains important for the Institute to be a learned society, and educational requirements have continued to be a central part of the profession's activities. The need for the profession to become more deeply involved in investment research is identified. A particular issue highlighted in the address is the constraint placed on the profession's growth and breadth by heavy reliance on self-study; much greater involvement of the universities is recommended.
In 1848, as in 1998, the potential for actuaries to use their skills in fields beyond life assurance was recognised, but the address notes that the opportunity to become involved in banking has never been properly grasped.
The leading role of the United Kingdom in the international development of the actuarial profession has continued throughout the history of the Institute, and recent developments in the International Actuarial Association are noted.
The need to educate clients and the wider public in what it is that actuaries do and how they go about it is the remaining major theme.
The final section identifies some current issues needing urgent attention, including the need to influence the shape of national and international accounting standards.