Photograph: Hyon Smith
I take tremendous pride in being an actuary. This pride stems from the high standards the Society of Actuaries (SOA) sets for its designations and that we set for ourselves.
As members of the SOA, you all know that same feeling of pride—the rigor, hard work, creativity and endless ideas that shape who we are as actuaries.
I know that many people, including my own kids, have no idea what we do … exactly. But, they know we do important work. They recognize that, through our commitment to education, research, volunteering and advancing the profession, we work tirelessly to inform the world of the actuarial profession, the rigor it requires and its importance in managing risk.
The board recently approved the 2017–2021 strategic plan. I look forward to continuing the work with predictive analytics, diversity in the profession, collaboration with the other actuarial organizations and, of course, supporting actuarial education.
Recently, the American Academy of Actuaries (the Academy) and the SOA created an online tool to help identify the likelihood of living various lengths of time and essentially provide a range of outcomes for individuals. Thanks to this Actuaries Longevity Illustrator, the public can better understand the risk of outliving their retirement income, a very real challenge for the public today.
I am excited about our efforts with predictive analytics—because of how swiftly the SOA will be implementing predictive analytics into the curriculum and because of the exciting programs already in place. There are so many members and groups involved with this effort, including the Predictive Analytics Advisory Group and the Cultivate Opportunities Team. Predictive analytics and the continued identification of existing and emerging opportunities for actuaries are key components of the new strategic plan.
Actuaries are lifelong learners. We don’t wait to build upon our skills, our history and our unique perspectives. We understand that new ideas and new ways of thinking are crucial to our businesses.
Online videos and e-Learning will be a major component of the new Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA) curriculum changes. We intend to use new technologies to assess each candidate’s ability to apply what he or she has learned.
For example, in the future, candidates could complete a computer-based project where they are given a data set to analyze, and then asked to draw conclusions, make recommendations and ultimately communicate their findings in a written report.
We are also creating a pilot program for a certificate in predictive analytics. We will analyze the feedback from the pilot, learning from the participants, and then forge ahead in the direction that meets the goal of educating actuaries and expanding their opportunities.
As part of our Learning Strategy, we are investigating new ways of learning, such as through video technology. This can be used in a variety of professional development activities. For example, we worked with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) on a series of short videos focusing on principle-based reserving.
Also, new fellows now have access to online videos to further improve their communication skills, building on what was presented at their fellowship admissions course.
The new web-based Regulatory Resource provides a stream of updates for U.S. actuaries practicing in life and health. We built this resource based on your requests to help actuaries keep up-to-date on the latest regulatory changes and what they mean.
All of this work connects with our ongoing research and education to inform public policy developments and public understanding of key issues.
The SOA and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) have a joint venture to offer and promote the certified actuarial analyst (CAA) qualification. This qualification is designed to enhance the skills of individuals with actuarial support roles.
CAA—ENHANCING PROFESSIONALISM OF ACTUARIAL SUPPORT ROLES
The Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) established a not-for-profit, public interest joint venture organization called CAA Global. It will oversee, deliver and promote the certified actuarial analyst (CAA) qualification, which is designed to give those working in actuarial support roles, and in the broader financial services sector, a path to acquire sound technical skills and to enhance their professionalism.
CAA Global will be focused on establishing and developing the joint venture and will also conduct a process of consultation with other actuarial associations around the world to develop an accreditation system to enable them to become destination organizations for qualified CAAs. The SOA has formed a subsidiary, SOA Center for Certified Actuarial Analysts, to provide a community for individuals with the qualification to network. It also maintains the value of the qualification by holding its affiliates up to high professionalism standards, while offering
professional development resources. Affiliates of the SOA Center are neither actuaries nor members of the SOA.
This past year, the SOA was faced with its own challenges and growth opportunities. To face these challenges, we take advantage of every opportunity to work with the other actuarial organizations in the United States and around the world. We don’t always agree, but the dialogue is meaningful, thoughtful and, most importantly, entirely about what is best for the future of the actuarial profession.
As a great example of where collaboration has worked well, the SOA, the Academy, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) recently released the Actuaries Climate Index—an objective measure of severe weather conditions in the United States and Canada reflecting the actuarial perspective.
The actuarial profession and the SOA face another challenge: inclusion and diversity. Last year, the SOA Board approved the formation of the SOA Committee on Inclusion and Diversity.
My own family is quite diverse, so I know how the diversity of thought can grow your sphere of understanding and grow your business. I recognize firsthand the importance of what our organization is doing to increase the diversity of the profession and welcome and include candidates and members from all groups. To attract the best and brightest, the pool needs to encompass everyone.
We do have our work cut out for us. We must strive to improve our outreach through all of our diversity efforts, including those championed by the Actuarial Foundation and the SOA/CAS Joint Committee on Career Encouragement and Actuarial Diversity.
We will learn a great deal about our next steps from the results of a new study sponsored by the SOA, CAS, International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA) and the Actuarial Foundation to determine the barriers to entry and pursuit of the actuarial profession.
In closing, I will do my best to let the world know of your ambitions and accomplishments. I look forward to the year ahead, and our work to help advance the profession.