2021 SOA Board Elections

They’re taking self-nominations now:




My endorsements

My endorsement for President-Elect: John Robinson

post here: 2021 SOA Board Elections - #24 by meep

My endorsements for SOA Board: [I may add more – 5 members of the Board will be elected]

Roger Loomis
Carlos Fuentes


Links to candidate answers on UEC & exam/pathway changes:
Questions sent:

President-Elect Candidates:
John Robinson:

Tim Rozar:

Board Candidates:

Roger Loomis:

Dave Ingram:

Mercy Yan:

David Ruiz:

Carlos Fuentes:

Alvin Soh:

They sent a “Will you give us feedback on the Election process?” email, soliciting participation in an open forum. They also [evil snicker] offered a blank text box to offer suggestions about the election process. Here’s my reply:

I have much to say, very little of it will make it into this medium.

I believe that the Society should not be competing with Data Science and trying to entice potential candidates by adding even more to the qualification syllabus. That is, paradoxically, going to create an even higher barrier to entry and depress numbers even more. Instead, actuaries should work alongside data scientists to combine technical skills of DS with domain-specific knowledge of actuaries.

I believe the education system, as it is 90% focused on specific technical skills, trains candidates incorrectly and leaves them unprepared for the kind of work they will be asked to do post-exams. As well, the long exam process turns away many interesting, diverse candidates who could bring a valuable external perspective to actuarial employers and actuarial professionals.

I believe a mandatory service requirement should be implemented in order to maintain Fellowship status.

I believe the SOA should back away from international expansion and concentrate on North America.

I believe the SOA should admit that the General Insurance track was an expensive failure and leave that to the CAS.

I believe the SOA has not demonstrated to the membership that they have studied the broader market and knows what the ideal proportion of actuaries in the society should be. As a result, we don’t know whether the Society needs to grow or shrink other than the “if you’re not growing, you’re dying” meme that provides only impressions, not facts.

I believe actuaries can work in non-traditional industries, but they will be taking on traditional insurance functions - measuring, managing, and monitoring contingent risks - just doing it for an engineering firm, or a logistics firm, or a college, etc. Trying to “compete” with data scientists is a losing proposition.

I believe the SOA should be marketing actuaries widely in order to attract career-changers, and should adapt the qualification process to recognize experience in other disciplines, lowering the barrier to entry that way. Instead, what I see is the Society preaching to the choir of how great actuaries are, when the professionals themselves still get continually mistaken for accountants and even “actors”. If the SOA really wanted to “maintain the value of the credential”, they would be embarking on a nationwide campaign with print, digital, and content marketing to other industries, rather than just trying to remind members and current candidates about how great they are.

As you can see, I have many opinions. I hope to share them with you in the open forum.


I only recall having met two of them IRL. Since now retired, perhaps soon there will be an election where I’ll have met none.

1 Like

I have met at least 6 of these people in person (at actuarial meetings, obviously). A few of them I may have simply emailed/been on conference calls with. To get to this level, you have to be pretty active in the SOA.

Anyway, I am going to ask the candidates for their comments on UEC/exam changes.

A (somewhat) relevant post from r/actuary - the SOA needs to be looking to other regions where the profession is well regarded and is prevalent in “non-traditional” roles to compare our approach. This seems like a good place to start.

Hello my American (and Canadian) brothers and sisters!

So I’ve been reading this sub for a while and I thought I’d just share my experience working as an actuary (consulting, general insurance) in Australia. I’m really curious to hear your thoughts how it compares to working as an actuary in the US.

A recent post made by a Redditor commented on the negativity regarding the job on this sub. Even though most of the replies to that comment surrounded the idea that Reddit seems to be a bitter place in general, some commented about the fact that, for a variety of reasons, actuaries tend to not be able to use some of the more ‘cutting edge’ methodology and usually are forced to use more ‘outdated’ techniques. In Australia, actuaries do use advanced machine learning tools and are actively discouraged from using classical methodology (like GLMs) due to the fact that they tend to be ‘high maintenance’ (you tend to only come across these types of models in old systems). In fact, the company I currently work for (a general insurance/p&c consulting firm) has a reputation for being one of the more cutting edge firms in the country terms of the types of modelling it does). The field seems to be a lot less regulated here in Aus. There is an exam called “Data Analytics Principles” that covers these sorts of machine learning techniques (eg random forest, GBM etc).

I don’t know for certain where most of the actuarial jobs in the US are located (from what I’ve read, they tend to be concentrated in the Midwest?) but in Australia they are concentrated in our two largest and most expensive cities (Melbourne and Sydney). Salaries in general tend to be lower in Australia than the US (almost everywhere has lower salaries in almost every industry than the US) but a career as an actuary is one of the higher paying careers in the country. Associates tend to earn around $AU150,000 ($US112,000) on average and fellows earn around $AU170,000 (around $US130,000 on average). Once you become a fellow, the company I currently work for tends to give you the opportunity to become a partner which is not unusual.

The job title ‘actuary’ also does carry quite a lot of prestige in Australia. A lot of universities restrict entry into their actuarial science programs to students who did particularly well in high school (although I don’t think this should be done) and the job title carries some weight to it. I imagine this would be the same in the US, (although from watching US TV shows titles like Lawyer and Investment Banker seem to be seen as particularly impressive there :wink:

I’ve read a lot about ‘data scientists vs actuaries on this sub and there seems to be an underlying fear that data science may usurp actuaries in the near future. In Australia, insurance and consulting companies also employ Data Scientists who work alongside the actuaries and (particularly in consulting) are expected to progress through the exam process (and get raises along the way). In the team I work in, we recently employed someone transitioning from a career in data science who has just started doing this and many members of the team followed this path too. Actuaries are generally seen as being a ‘level up’ from data scientists.

In Australia, although it is common for actuaries to work in insurance, it is also common to work in other areas. Banks commonly employ actuaries when dealing with default risk (never worked for one myself, but I know quite a few people who do), investment firms hire actuaries in capital allocation roles, they are commonly employed as quants etc. From what I’ve read on this sub, actuaries are somewhat pigeonholed into insurance in the US. Is this true or can they fairly easily move around as well?

This is probably not the thread for that discussion, though Bro did bring some of this up last week.

You are correct that it isn’t really the right thread, but I was specifically responding to Bro’s post.

Okay, it looks like questionaires, etc. are out there.

I will be sending candidates these two questions:

  • What do you think about the UEC program?
  • What do you think about the exam system changes recently announced?

I will share answers here, with their permission.

I emailed the three President-Elect candidates. I will email the Board candidates tomorrow.

Are there no petition candidates for any of the offices?

I haven’t heard of any. Looking at the page, today was the last day to submit a petition.

I got a response from President-Elect candidate John Robinson:

Concerning the UEC program:
My first reaction was that, unlike 2012-2013 when college credit was first discussed by the Board, members were not consulted. My grapevine tells me that none of the CAE schools were consulted in the development of the program (I hope the grapevine is wrong), and one of them has decided it will not participate. As you know, OLA has complained that the “bias” towards CAE schools will be a setback to minorities. There is a provision that extends the program to HBCUs; but very few HBCUs have Act Sci, and without a professor to support it, the program is unlikely to reach their students. Most of the comments that I get are concern that it will produce a lower quality of candidate than the exams. The lack of buy-in by important stakeholders may cause at least a re-consideration of the direction.

Concerning the thrust of the exam system changes:
There is a legitimate need to ensure that pre-ASA candidates can perform work that employers of actuaries expect of them. Currently, this includes applying tools and techniques that data scientists are trained to do. Where to draw the line between pre-ASA candidate and data scientist is a tricky question. I am confident, however, that at the Fellowship level, our multi-disciplinary (economics, finance, life and non-life contingencies, investment, risk management) analytical perspectives, combined with our code of conduct, will continue to be valued by those that use our services.

I welcome any opportunity to hear your concerns for our profession or the SOA - whatever you think an incoming SOA president should be aware of.

You have my permission to share my response on GoActuary.

I told John that I’d convey any comments from here to him. I’m all about sharing. :wink:

Sending out an email to Board Candidates may have to wait a little… there are two I don’t have contact info for, and I’m trying to get that.

Check the actuarial directory?

I did - some people do not provide their email addresses publicly. And I checked my LinkedIn connections (I’m connected to most of them). The two that are left, I sent out LinkedIn invites to, so I can at least message them even if I can’t do email.

Anyway, I want to contact all of them at the same time.

I’ve written to the SOA to see if they can share contact info with me.

I will send an email next week, to those I have contact info for. I will do only so much to try to track people down who are running for the Board.

I will see if I can organize these responses later, but here’s the first regular Board candidate I have answers from.

Roger Loomis:

Thanks Mary Pat.

My answers to your questions are below. You have my permission to share them.

What do you think about the UEC program?

If a college wants to have courses that prepare students to pass actuarial exams that is great. But we already have a system for testing whether somebody has mastered the content on an actuarial exam’s syllabus: the actuarial exam itself. Because of that, I don’t understand the need for giving students credit for SOA exams without passing them.

What do you think about the exam system changes recently announced?

I think the SOA has made an excellent case for modernizing the exam system. The trends they’ve identified (e.g. the rise of data science, the impact of artificial intelligence on the nature of work, the declining market value of basic cognitive skills) are real, and if the profession is going to maintain and enhance its value, we need an educational system that will support actuaries carving out a valuable niche in the emerging economy.

More specifically, I don’t believe SOA exams can or should educate candidates to become data scientists. However, actuaries should be capable of analyzing data using modern statistical techniques. Moreover, we should have a functional understanding of what data scientists do so that we can effectively collaborate with them. Ultimately, the unique skills that actuaries bring to the table will involve deeper domain knowledge in insurance, managing insurance risk, and financial risk modeling.

From my perspective, replacing an ASA-level course on Investments and Financial Markets with an exam on Advanced Topics in Predictive Analytics is a good tradeoff. That one course won’t help actuaries competing with trained data scientists for a data scientist job, but it just might increase the chances that the actuary will know enough about data science to be the data scientist’s manager in five years.

Just an FYI: Roger reached out to me, which is what kicked me off asking these two questions. (I had planned on asking these questions, but just hadn’t started asking yet)

I have emailed the three President-Elect candidates already, and will be emailing the other Board candidates I can get contact email addresses for. I share answers only with permission.

Sorry for the lag – I’m on vacation and am slower than usual re: emails.

Tim Rozar, one of the SOA President-Elect candidates, has responded to my email (days ago, I just got around to posting it):

Thanks so much for reaching out.

With respect to UEC, I recognize that this is a contentious issue for many. I also recognize that I may lose more votes than I gain by responding, but I think it is important to be transparent in my views. First and foremost, our primary goal should be to ensure the rigor and relevance of the FSA credential. The question is how do we achieve this goal while also responding to the evolving needs and expectations of employers, regulators, candidates, and other stakeholders? I know that there are many folks on this forum who believe that there will never be any way to satisfy this goal if university credit plays any role in the accreditation process. I respect that view, and I once held the same position - but my thinking has evolved somewhat over the past 20 years. I do now think that it is possible - and necessary - to retain quality of the credential while also retaining demand for the credential. Without prioritizing both - quality and demand - the value of the credential in the marketplace will diminish. It is easy to say “if a candidate knows the material, they should just take the exam to prove it”, but this presupposes that we have limitless demand for the credential with a pool of top quality university students queueing up around the block in the hopes of becoming actuaries. Unfortunately, this simply is no longer the case as many of the potential candidates who in the past would have gone on to be top actuaries are now taking their talents elsewhere. The number of first-time exam takers has declined for something like 7 years in a row while interest in other adjacent, high-paying fields of study have seen tremendous growth. If the current exam system itself is a primary deterrent to top talent from ever entering the actuarial pipeline in the first place, then that will water down the quality of the actuarial profession and our credential far more than incorporating UEC. As such, I support UEC as a component of a broader FSA credentialing process that also continues to incorporate many other rigorous educational components including traditional examinations, VEE, e-learning, and continuing professional development. This isn’t to say that I don’t have concerns, which I have already personally expressed to SOA staff and board leadership. First, I worry about the potential for collateral damage to non-CAE actuarial programs as the current approach could create an uneven playing field. If the UEC pathway were to reduce the number of actuarial program options available to students, this could reduce the exposure to the actuarial profession and have an unintended ripple effect on the sustainability of our candidate pipeline. Second, despite a stated intent of the program to improve the diversity of our profession, I worry that it could have the opposite effect if only CAE (or even UCAP) schools are included. I appreciate the outreach to HBCUs to try to address this, but this does not feel like a scalable solution for such an important issue.

As for the other changes to the SOA exam system, I am generally a supporter of certificate programs and micro-credentials as a way to acquire and demonstrate specific expertise beyond the ASA and FSA credential. I think this is a creative and sensible innovation that responds to the evolving needs of our stakeholders. For the broader system changes, I am not as close to the details of other syllabus changes, but I generally support the introduction of topics such as communication and business skills that may help round-out the otherwise technical syllabus. As for expanded data analytics content, it is clear that the baseline level of competence necessary for the actuary of the future has increased over the past several years, as has the demand for these skills from candidates and employers. This does not mean that actuaries should strive to become data scientists, but I do think that increasing the syllabus content in this area is a sensible evolution.

I appreciate the opportunity to connect and welcome any thoughts or feedback on these or other issues. I respect and welcome those with other ideas or opposing views on how we achieve our shared objective of delivering on our education and research mission in support of a vibrant and sustainable profession for the long-term. While we won’t always agree on every issue, I am very optimistic about the future of the SOA because of the intelligence, passion, and mutual respect that SOA members share. It is my sincere hope that each of you reviews the qualifications of each of the PE and Board candidates (Board Elections | SOA) and participates in the election process, even if you decide not to rank me as your top choice.

Warm Regards,


Okay, NOW I’ve sent out the emails.

I still couldn’t find out how to contact one of the candidates, but at least I’ve tried to find them.


I was able to get an email address for the final candidate!

I will share what answers I can, and will try to organize links earlier in this thread.

Dave Ingram:

Thanks for asking.

I would expect to concentrate my attention as a board member on making sure that the SOA supports the success of the profession through post fellowship education programs. We have had feedback from employers that they want actuaries who can think strategically, participate in effective decision making, communicate with non-actuarial colleagues and manage/lead others. I would want to get involved with and/or instigate efforts to review the effectiveness and if needed improve the existing programs that exist to promote those skills in actuaries. Ultimately, the value of the FSA is determined by the value that employers perceive that they are getting from fully qualified actuaries. The most valuable actuaries are most often people who possess these skills in addition to a rigorous technical background.

Regarding both the UES program and the changes to the ASA syllabus, there are two questions to think about. First, were these both good things to do and second, did we do them well. My thinking is that both ideas are fundamentally sound. And for both, we will need to monitor execution to see if they are actually working well. For example, we can track candidates who qualified under the UES for some subjects and see if their success on later exams is better or worse than candidates who qualified under exams. We can also investigate whether there are any other ways that candidates from the UES might be different from candidates who took all exams. And we can also track the extent to which actuaries become involved in doing work with Predictive Analytics.

But as we all think about these topics, I think that we all need to reflect on how we are currently using our actuarial education. In the past month, what part of your work is something that you can do (a)solely because you learned the subject for an exam, (b)what part was learned “on the job”, (c)what part was mixed, and (d)what part did you learn to do from some post fellowship educational effort on your part?

Regarding the addition of the Predictive Analysis materials to the ASA curriculum, I would suggest that post fellowship education on this topic is absolutely vital to successful integration of any new topic into actuarial practice. If we do not bring the managers of new actuaries into some knowledge of a new topic, then it is likely that actuarial candidates who are interested in Predictive Analytics will end up working for non-actuaries who will be much less likely to encourage them to complete their actuarial education. We will be educating people to leave the profession.

You have my permission to share this as you see fit.

Dave Ingram