Roger Bevan, a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, one of our associates, has written for The Actuary magazine about widening the ethics debate and how actuaries play an important role in ensuring the financial soundness and profitability of their clients, but also need to bear in mind the ethical implications of their advice.
Roger says “I believe we need to widen the ethics debate and consider more rigorously the ethical aspects of decision making that may impact a business. Do the perpetrators if unethical business practices consider the potential implications for their companies in terms of the financial cost, damaged reputations and loss of trust in the management, for example, VW in relation to the emissions test?… The decision-making process needs to identify the potential ethical issues that may affect all stakeholders, including shareholders, customers, suppliers, staff, legislators, environmental agencies, media etc. There needs to be a change in thinking in order to meet the rapidly increasing governance expectations, with ethics training for everyone. This must not be regarded as a tick box exercise, but a clear process with an audit trail is needed to protect the business from the ethical pitfalls that have affected others.”
He talks about his involvement at the University of Kent where he lectures in actuarial science, incorporating material on the ethics debate, along with his experiences as a trainer with Elgood.
“At Elgood we have found that getting people together brings alive the ethical issues, enabling them to experience the effect of their decisions on a business. They can relate management and ethical considerations to their own businesses, giving them new ideas about processes to follow. Participants can also practice and self-assess their business acumen, communication and influencing skills, as encouraged by our profession.”
Roger writes as a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries but the same arguments and call to widen the ethics debate can be applied to all professions and those seeking to be professional in their management role.