2021 SOA Board Elections

They’re taking self-nominations now:

https://www.soa.org/programs/elections/elections-process/

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.

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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.