Advancing Opportunities for the Profession

My three biggest priorities for the coming year

James M. Glickman

Photograph: Hyon Smith


The following is an excerpt from James M. Glickman’s presidential luncheon speech at the 2018 SOA Annual Meeting & Exhibit. Read the speech in its entirety.


I want to thank all of you for the honor bestowed upon me to serve as your 70th Society of Actuaries (SOA) president. I would like to discuss my three biggest priorities for this coming year.

1. Improve Relationships

My first and most important priority is continuing and expanding the progress the SOA has achieved in improving our relationships with other actuarial organizations, especially those in North America. We must seek out more opportunities to collaborate and cooperate, whenever possible, and always go out of our way to avoid conflicts.

2. Enhance the Member Experience

My second priority is to look for new ways to improve each member’s experience. One new initiative, which I believe will be crucial to the continuing success of the SOA, is preparing our next generation of actuarial leaders for the challenges ahead.

At our June Board meeting, a special task force, formed to analyze and make recommendations regarding the SOA’s engagement with our newest FSAs, presented its report. This report revealed that the millennial generation is now the SOA’s largest generational segment, at more than 45 percent of total membership. Yet, they participate at a much lower rate than our other FSAs, both in our sections and other volunteer activities.

The SOA recognizes the need to build cutting-edge tools that specifically appeal to millennials’ style of interacting, not only with their peers, but also when networking with other FSAs and while participating in continuing education. I am pleased that the SOA Board voted to add this goal as a strategic initiative for the upcoming year.

Another opportunity to enhance our members’ marketability and career advancement opportunities is to find ways to deliver communication training, a skill set actuaries have perennially endured a reputation for lacking. If we are successful at routinely adding communication skills to the other well-recognized skill sets of our FSAs, we will expand employment opportunities for all actuaries, especially into the nonactuarial management roles. Someday, perhaps, we may even eliminate the stereotype that actuaries are great technically but not particularly effective at communicating their conclusions beyond their actuarial communities.

Volunteering has always been at the heart of the actuarial profession. For that reason, I would like to see every effort expended to make volunteering more accessible, more rewarding and, most important, fun for our members.

One initiative I propose is the development of programs that would offer small incentives to retiring actuaries to stay involved with the SOA in a volunteer capacity. Perhaps pairing up retirees, as mentors, with newer FSAs would be just the type of activity that both retirees and millennials would enjoy. The professional interest sections could logically help set up this matching program, by organizing it and providing small incentives to participate.

Another opportunity would be serving as experts to the media. This is where the SOA can be particularly helpful, by continuing to match up section experts with the SOA’s media contacts. By increasing our relationships between the actuarial experts who can explain complex issues and the reporters who can then educate the public, not only will society benefit, but the recognition and reputation of the actuarial profession will be significantly enhanced.

A final idea is to expand our efforts to sponsor and encourage international continuing education programs that are locally developed and presented in that location’s native language.

3. Expand Employment Opportunities

My third priority is focused around the SOA’s strategic goal of expanding employment opportunities for actuaries. The most obvious places to achieve this are in two areas where we now only occasionally see actuaries employed. The first, and the one with the most potential, is with new industries that would logically benefit from the skills actuaries possess.

The second area, and one where actuaries are heavily employed in actuarial roles today, is the nonactuarial management roles at traditional actuarial employers. The real key in making progress in developing more of these opportunities is through changing the stereotypes that currently inhibit employers from seeking out actuaries to fill these roles.

Diversity and inclusion is one of the SOA’s strategic goals. Through expansion of our support of The Actuarial Foundation, particularly its efforts to provide math-oriented educational materials in disadvantaged communities, the SOA can dramatically increase its impact to foster more diversity in the future by raising awareness among these students and families about the opportunities offered by our profession. The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and SOA Joint Committee on Career Encouragement and Actuarial Diversity (JCCEAD) are working on ways to accomplish just that, and I encourage them to expand that effort.

Before closing, I want to encourage each of you to volunteer with the SOA. Volunteering is essential to foster new ideas, collaborate with colleagues and expand our reach.

Thank you for this opportunity to serve as your president. I look forward to working with you to advance the profession.

James M. Glickman, FSA, MAAA, CLU, is president of the Society of Actuaries.

Copyright © 2018 by the Society of Actuaries, Schaumburg, Illinois.