PROFILE: Editorials: Edition: March / May 2020

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Actuaries to the rescue

An offer to the public sector that it cannot refuse.

Lusani Mulaudzi, newly-inducted president of the Actuarial Society of SA, is a man with a mission. An amiable 37-year old of demonstrable drive and appropriate experience, he’s determined to find ways that actuaries “make a difference to SA”. That’s why he accepted the ASSA position: “Given our country’s challenges and opportunities, we have the resources to help lead and find creative solutions. We aren’t bean counters. With the depth of data available for analysis, we can offer insightful solutions by bringing our specialist skills into the discussions.” As president, he’ll head ASSA’s initiative to encourage involvement of members in public-sector issues. These members, he points out, are well-trained in risk management. They normally serve on the audit and risk committees of life insurers and banks. “We’re confident that these skills can be usefully applied at the level of a government department or state entity to assist in managing risks and advising on turnaround strategies,” he offers. He’s no stranger to this area. Part-time, he played a role in formulating ASSA’s public-interest strategy and coordinating its research projects. Full-time, he’s chief executive of Grassroot Impact Solutions that he started with a partner in 2017. It focuses on enterprise advisory and training as well as health-risk consulting for medical schemes, health providers and government entities. In his inaugural address, Mulaudzi emphasised an all-hands-on-deck call for actuaries to help SA regain lost ground. He pointed to the creation of a specialist portfolio within the society to promote context-based solutions insuch areas of public policy as National Health Insurance, an amendment to the Road Accident schemes bill which deals with settlement of claims against the state as a result of wrongful medical treatment, and funding of free university education.

A consulting actuary himself – Mulaudzi is an ASSA fellow who holds a postgraduate diploma and a BCom Hons in actuarial science, both from Stellenbosch University – his related passion is to urge matriculants who earned maths distinctions carefully to choose their degrees. This is obviously with a view to them not dropping out. He notes that only 4 415 (2%) of last year’s matrics got over 80% for maths, against almost 7 000 three years ago and almost 6 000 two years ago: “As long as SA’s pipeline of future problem solvers continues to deliver a declining trickle of competent maths learners, we cannot expect SA to achieve a meaningful growth trajectory.” Most of the professions that require skills to solve SA’s critical challenges require degrees in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Of these, he believes that maths is the base requirement. “But a distinction in matric maths rarely translates to a distinction in university maths,” he cautions. “The gap between matric maths and Maths 1 at university is substantial, resulting in many students failing Maths 1 giving up their studies and further reducing the pool for STEM degrees.” Talk of challenges. Mulaudzi does: “Countries unable to meet the demands of the fourth industrial revolution will suffer declining economic growth and social development.” More’s the pity then that at end-2019 ASSA had only 2 767 registered student members potentially, after the 10 years it takes for full qualification, to complement its present membership of 1 696 fellows and associates. They can nonetheless pack a powerful punch, properly used for technical support in public-sector areas that desperately need it. Mulaudzi is proud that ASSA has members willing and able to serve.