Angoel (angoel) wrote,

Thinking Aloud[1] - Professionals and the Public

This morning, I had some free time[2], and I thought I'd review my professionalism notes. These were notes which I'd made in the course I was sent on shortly after I'd qualified as an actuary, and I wished to condense them down into something more manageable than the scribbled notes that I'd created at the time.

When looking through them, there was one area of professional responsibility which caught my attention - an area of professional responsibility which was in the process of being added to the general guidance, and which apparently is found amongst the responsibilities of other professional bodies, namely to work in the interest of your client and the public interest.

Now serving the public interest seem to suffer from two problems - the first is that you may end up with generally divided loyalties and not be certain which stool to stand on, and the second is that what's in the public interest is hard enough for the government to know, so a single professional standing alone doesn't really stand a chance. Instead, what seems to happen in practice, is that the professional body takes over the role of worrying about the public interest while the individual professional does the job they're appointed to do[3].

In general, this doesn't seem entirely satisfactory to me. While it's nice that professions claim they serve the public interest - certainly better than explicitly not doing so, there's an element of self-aggrandisation about it. An element of one-upmanship, as if the union of dustmen couldn't put serving the public interest into their charter, and suggest litter collection improvements to the government. More a PR stunt than a policy.

It's a shame, really. Having people working in the public interest would be nice. It just can't be done.

[1] Musings which are not fully formed and thus probably not correct - but which I'm inflicting on the world incomplete anyway. Feel free to attempt to realign my thoughts.
[2] Gained by skiving off my regular exercise classes, but that's another story.
[3] There's a cross-over to the civil service there, too. Generally they're supposed to be working for the good of the country. Individually, they do their job and hope the good of the country is served.
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