I am very fortunate to be a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society: the terminal credential in my field of actuarial science. The society has been furthering the science, art, and standards of general liability actuarial work for over 100 years, and has consistently maintained, nay, enhanced the value of actuaries and the services they provide.
To paraphrase and possibly expand on my candidate statements, there are two primary reasons I would like to serve the CAS as a board member. We live in a very exciting era, especially as it relates to technological innovation. However, it is also a critical time for the field. Computing power and data collection have grown in ways that would have been unthinkable outside of science fiction even twenty-five years ago. This makes it a wonderful time to be an actuary. I’ve often claimed that actuaries were “doing data science” before that term was invented. While some of the methods and tools may have changed in the recent past, the concept of understanding all elements of risk—quantitative and qualitative—remains one of our core strengths. We have been dealing with most of the problems of data collection, scrubbing, imputation, and analysis for over a century. We are not just “data scientists for insurance”—we are experts in applying the critical combination of statistical techniques, business specific domain knowledge, and awareness of the limitations of any model or methodology.
This leads to one of the issues about which I feel strongly. The proliferation of data-analysis-type jobs is both a boon and a burden. We can, and have, taken advantage of advances in statistical theory, practice, algorithms, and computing power to name just a few. Yet we may also be in danger of being pigeonholed, if not rendered obsolete, if we do not evolve. Data capture, amalgamation, cleaning, and analysis have undergone a veritable sea change in the last decade, and actuaries need to be current, or at least conversant, with these techniques. As a member of the board, I would help the society “ride the wave” of the digital revolution and not only keep but enhance the value that actuaries have and bring to our principals. I believe that in order to stay relevant and valuable in the 21st century, especially in light of other North American actuarial organizations entering the general insurance arena, we need to expand the actuarial toolkit beyond its traditional boundaries. I was a member of the Education Structure Task Force which reviewed the then current syllabus with an eye towards the baseline of what the actuary of the next 25 years should know. I continued as a member of both the Statistics and CERA implementation task forces. The current exam S is one result of these task forces, and serves to better prepare actuaries of the 21st century for the problems they will face. I would like to see similar improvements to the education of actuaries in more advanced statistical concepts, especially the introduction of Bayesian hierarchical models and having actuaries aware of basic unsupervised learning techniques. Not all education needs to be officially enshrined in the syllabus, though. I do not want another exam for the sake of an exam; I do not think we need another exam. Rather, I want the CAS to encourage actuaries to write not only theoretical papers, but papers and monographs which present practical solutions and methods in a clear fashion. These can be used by all actuaries to expand their capabilities and thus enhance their value.
A second related issue which I feel is important is that I believe that increasing the visibility of the actuarial role in non-traditional risk management venues is in the best interest of the CAS and its members. New corporate and risk paradigms have emerged in the past decade, and existing non-insurance entities have seen value in actuarial services. New corporate concepts such as the proliferation of peer-to-peer companies have need of risk management services, and some already use actuaries. Traditional companies are now exposed to both new kinds of risk, such as cyber, as well as increased exposure to risks previously considered de minimis, such as domestic terrorism against property and infrastructure. Even non-insurance, non-classical risk bearing entities have made use of actuarial services, as the NFL did as part of its response to the brain trauma lawsuit. I believe that increasing awareness about the specific value actuaries bring to risk management roles in non-traditional venues will both solidify and expand opportunities for current and future actuaries.
Overall, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have this career at the crossroads of statistics and problem solving at this time. The CAS has been nurturing and advancing the science, art, education, and standards of casualty actuarial practice for over a century, providing the framework in which we actuaries perform with integrity and competence. For that alone we all owe the CAS a debt of gratitude. As a predominantly volunteer-driven and run organization, we can demonstrate that gratitude by giving of our time and expertise to the CAS and all of its members. More recently, I was privileged to be a member of the nominating committee for the past two years, and saw first-hand the care and concern that the CAS leadership has regarding the growth and health of the organization. The strategic thinking and attention to the short, medium, and long-term needs of the society and its members inspired me. Serving on the board would allow me to both give back to the CAS and “pay forward” the debt of gratitude I owe the society and all its members.
I would certainly appreciate your support come August 1, but more importantly, I would appreciate it if you took the time to review the candidates—and they are all interested in bettering the CAS and its members—and make an informed decision for whom to vote come August. This is your society, and as recent political events have shown, elections matter! Please use your vote, and use it as best you see fit. Thank you.