The Staple Inn Actuarial Society was originally founded in 1910 as the Institute of Actuaries Students’ Society. Back then, there was very little support for those wanting to become an actuary. For many subjects, there were no correspondence courses or even recommended reading lists. Not surprisingly, demand arose for a forum where students could discuss their ideas and further their knowledge. Hence, in November 1910, the Institute of Actuaries Students’ Society was officially born. William Palin Elderton (later Sir) was appointed the first chairman of the Society.
The original objectives of the Society included helping students prepare for exams and equipping them with the practical knowledge that is essential to being an actuary. Thankfully, actuarial education has come a long way in the past 100 years, so there is now less need for the Society to directly support students in the preparation of exams. Instead, the Society today aims to supplement the technical and softer skills students gain from taking exams, offer a valued opportunity for qualified actuaries to continue their professional development, and also act as the regional actuarial society for London and South East England.
As time went by, the “Institute of Actuaries Students’ Society” name seemed to less adequately capture what the Society was increasingly about; by now it was focusing on the interests of the Profession’s younger members more generally, not just students, and also acting as the London regional actuarial society. Therefore, in 1986 the Society changed its name, drawing inspiration from its home, Staple Inn, to form what we now know as the Staple Inn Actuarial Society (SIAS).
SIAS has produced a number of publications throughout its history. The first was the Journal of the Institute of Actuaries Students’ Society (JSS), which was initially published to collate papers and other content from the Society’s early meetings. These were considered useful material for students preparing for their exams at the time.
In 1947 the first edition of Random Muse was published, the Society’s first foray into a more light-hearted publication, including puzzles and humorous stories alongside more serious fare. However, the magazine came to an end after 18 months and 13 issues, before being resurrected one last time for the Society’s golden jubilee in 1960.
The desire for a magazine to communicate with members was not lost, however, and in 1978 a new publication was introduced called Fiasco. This new magazine was anything but, and quickly became a great success. Its ability to communicate very effectively with the Society’s membership also did not go unnoticed by the Profession’s public relations committee.
In 1990 SIAS re-launched the magazine, but now with the support of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA), to reach the Profession’s entire membership whilst acting as a more efficient medium of communication for the IFoA. From then on the magazine was known as The Actuary. Until 2015, the magazine was owned and published by SIAS with content developed and edited independently of the IFoA.
In 2015, SIAS agreed to sell the magazine to the IFoA. Click here for more details on the sale of The Actuary.
Today the Society has a busy social calendar, with 10 or so social events each year. The highlights usually include a boat party on the Thames, a poker tournament and the Annual Ball (or Dinner). The last of these is another long-running tradition, with the first Annual Supper initiated in 1929 when 73 members gathered after the AGM.
Today the supper has grown into an event in its own right, with over 700 members attending each year. Many of the early suppers would play host to very popular amateur dramatics productions and reviews after the dinner. More recently the dinners have tended to adopt a theme, resulting in some excellent examples of fancy dress.
‘Programme events‘ have always been one of the main tools to achieve the educational goals of the Society. The meetings have always begun with one or two speakers providing opening remarks, usually referring to a paper or presentation they have prepared on an actuarial or related subject. Following this, the discussion is opened up to the floor. Younger members of the Society are actively encouraged to participate in the discussion, and the Society offers a bottle of champagne after each event for the best contributions each from a current student and a recently qualified actuary. The events are also typically followed by an opportunity to network over drinks with other members at Staple Inn or a nearby location.
Click here for a calendar of SIAS’s upcoming social events and programme talks.
Despite undergoing some design changes in recent years, the Society’s logo is still is made up of the same three “graphs” as its predecessors. The bottom graph illustrates growth with compound interest, the middle is a typical graph of mortality rates, and the top represents the trajectory of a tankard of ale from beer mat to mouth!