Actuary Hate

actuaries always think they know better than him because… not an actuary.

Taleb has this one joke about how turkeys get 364 days of being well fed and pampered, then get their heads chopped off on day 365. “Don’t be a turkey!” he would say. Basically he was advocating more robust data before making any decisions.

A member of the audience (I assume an actuary) asked a question: if 364 days of identical data is as robust data as your gonna get, how could the turkey have predicted day 365?

I’m paraphrasing, but Taleb basically didn’t have an answer

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Glad to hear you dumped him for the right reasons

Yeah I thought Black Swan was a bit of a silly book like that, with the turkey example being a great illustration. Black Swan events are basically by definition unpredictable.

Why do you assume the person was an actuary?

it was an SOA meeting?

This has been my experience too. I worked in a non-traditional area for a bit… basically put an actuarial approach to stats, working with big data.

Anyway, I was like an exhibit at the zoo. Grand-boss and great-grand-boss brought everyone in to meet me. “This is twig. She’s our resident actuary.” And everyone would ooh and aah. They were really proud to have an actuary on staff.


I have come across a couple of actuarial dropouts that seemed bitter over their failings. One who frequently touted how much he made relative to actuaries working at my company, another was in IT and seemed determined to force as much of actuarial work into IT as possible through IT controls and automation. Once he was promoted a few times, he sort of calmed down and stopped trying to make our lives more difficult than was reasonable.

sales : " how do we sell when it is so expensive"
me, inside my head : “oh so you only can sell if the product is cheap, hey my grandma can do your job too”
me, real world “let me see what can i do”

I’ve been the only actuary at two jobs, and got a fair bit of this.

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I’m the only actuary at my current consulting gig but at least half my co-workers have no clue what an actuary is. The few who do ask me lots of questions about it, so I’m still a slight novelty.

We had this at work…

Sales people come and say we have to do a bunch of work because our competitor was charging really low fees so they had to promise a bunch of things to undercut them. Like guys, you realize we want our competitors to have the underpriced clients…

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I’m an actuarial dropout. Several of the actuaries where I worked at the time treated me like crap after that and it took years to prove to them that I was actually better at what I was doing than many of the credentialed actuaries in our office. The blade cuts both ways I guess.

Yeah, our sales crew always promised if we cut a deal, they’d make it up later in volume. Great, how much volume? Tons, they’d say. Great, let’s put that on paper, can they commit to selling $X million in the next year? No, they won’t commit.

We’d occasionally throw them a bone, and the promised volume never materialized. Shocking.

But we don’t want our competitors to sell underpriced policies to our profitable customers – and that certainly happens. It doesn’t do US any good if they fail in a couple of years.

:laughing: make up for losses with volume!

Oh certainly if we’re profitable on the policies then it’s not good to lose it to a competitor who will undercut.

In this scenario the competitor was arguably at a loss (at least based on the internal required pricing we have) and so the sales guys figured we have to match that price AND throw in extras in order to secure this small client. I was honestly suspicious if there was some emotional attachment between a sales guy and the particular client.

I hated the sales people so much. This was in the retirement space, selling 401k and 403b plans and the like, and my impression is that people who sold retirement plans weren’t quite ethical enough to sell used cars. It was part of why I left the industry. And got into healthcare, which as you all know, is super ethical. :innocent:

I’ve actually been in value-based care for a long time, so I’m doing at least a little bit of good. Or trying.

I couldn’t find the clip, but I’m reminded of this scene:

Financial Guy: At these prices, the more paper you sell, the less money you’ll make.
Michael: Our prices are the only thing keeping us in business.
Financial Guy: They’re actually putting you out of business.
Michael: Okay, okay. Hold on, hold on. Ty, I would like you to crunch those numbers again.
Financial Guy: It’s a program. There’s no such thing–
Michael: Just crunch ’em. Just crunch ’em please.
Financial Guy: [presses key on computer] Crunch.
Pam: Did it help?


The correct response to this would be:
“You folks are selling on price? I thought you sold on value? But what do I know, I’m just an actuary.”.
But you can only say that if you’re prepared to ride out a very uncomfortable pause after you say that.

For added hilarity, after they sputter and start spewing out answers about price, respond with:
“Aren’t objections just an indication that the salesperson has tried to close too early?”.