CANDIDATES' RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
1. Would you state your position, as clearly as possible, on the issue of CAS independence? The particular reference is the repeated attempts by the SOA to consolidate the two organizations.
Wayne H. Fisher
I firmly believe the CAS can best serve its current and future members by remaining independent. That said, I think increased, effective collaboration with other actuarial organizations regarding general insurance issues, particularly international ones, will help position us as both thought leaders and sought after partners for general insurance and risk management education and research. Our aim should be to be respected and valued collaborators, and not competitors. Hence, we'll need even more effort on working with our international peers, with joint, topical webinars and such that will bring valuable perspectives to both our members and their members. We must also maintain vigilance regarding current collaborative activities to ensure they continue to add value to our members, beyond what we could realistically do for ourselves. The Enterprise Risk Management Symposium would be such an example.
Charles A. Bryan
This issue has been raised several times in my career in CAS governance. I believe the fundamental assumption that the SOA is using is that the one actuarial organization is the natural state of things and is the model used in the UK and in many other countries. If that is true, then the U.S. would move to a similar structure. In addition, I believe the SOA assumes that there are substantial operational efficiencies available by combining the offices, having one membership list, and so on.
Each time the issue is raised we make some progress on improving coordination between the organizations. These conversations have been followed by the Working Agreement, coordination of discipline, and so on. So the conversations have some benefit. But the CAS representatives to these study groups have always recommended against consolidation.
My position, borne of having these conversations at the presidential and Board levels many times since the 1980s, is that the CAS should remain as an independent organization because that is how we best serve our members. We specialize in general insurance and this specialization is absolutely critical to provide an examination path focused on general insurance, seminars and educational material focused on general insurance, and one of the best networking opportunities available anywhere. To my mind, all these things work very well and there is no reason to change structure and every reason not to change structure.
The two SOA assumptions driving them to recommend merger or consolidation are very fallacious. First, the model of one actuarial organization. Where there are common areas, such as exams and discipline, we cooperate today. If we have areas where we are not cooperating but should be cooperating, then we should handle that problem. I have talked extensively with actuaries where the "single actuarial organization" model is used and the general consensus of these actuaries is that general insurance gets secondary attention. We want an organization that gives general insurance primary attention. There is no strong reason why one actuarial organization is preferable to the current structure. We have more than five actuarial organizations in North America. The CAS is the predominant organization for exams, research, and continuing education for general insurance. But the organizations serve their purposes too. In fact, the CAS interacts with the AICPA, the legal profession, financial analysts and others just as much as with the SOA outside of the exams area. In sum, on the first assumption, the current approach of an independent CAS works very well and there is no reason to believe, and every reason to doubt, that consolidation with the SOA would improve our ability to serve our members.
On the second assumption, we have looked at the economic benefits of consolidation with the SOA before. We found some administrative efficiencies but not ones so major as to make consolidation desirable. There are other ways to accomplish the few efficiencies we found without jettisoning the current structure.
Finally, there are some significant cultural differences between the SOA. These are not insurmountable but would make effective consolidation difficult.
In sum, I am completely in favor of maintaining an independent CAS to best serve our members.
David R. Chernick
I believe the CAS should remain an independent organization.
Ann M. Conway
Our membership has made it clear that they do not see compelling advantages to the consolidation of U.S. actuarial societies and I agree with the majority on this point. There are significant advantages to being a society focused on casualty actuarial science and we need to take advantage of these strengths as we move forward in a changing environment. It is also important to note that in a consolidated society, casualty actuaries would become a minority group and as such our role and voice could be diluted.
Michael C. Dubin
My position is that there is currently not convincing evidence supporting consolidation with the SOA. Our starting point is that we are an independent organization and the CAS has earned its position as an indispensible part of the brain trust of the North American property casualty insurance industry and its regulators. We owe it to our constituents to not make unnecessary changes. There may be unintended negative consequences of consolidating.
I understand that there may be benefits to consolidating in areas such as international work and expanding our field of influence. Those are important concerns; however, our first priority remains North America and P/C insurance. We have clients who need us and we owe it to them and to the public to continue to provide strong actuarial leadership in our primary arena. I do not see how consolidating helps anything related to our primary field of expertise. Frankly, I have not seen enough evidence of the potential upside to consolidation to make it worthy of much consideration.
Our organization has a personality of its own and we are small enough that many members know each other. Combining organizations would present an unnecessary risk of negatively impacting our services. The reward for consolidating does not appear to be worth the risk.
I am committed to keeping an open mind on this subject. We should view the decision from the eyes of the public. If benefits to consolidation emerge that make it clear the public will benefit from consolidation, then, by all means, we should consolidate.
I have made this point clearly and unequivocally in my statement of candidacy. I will work diligently to preserve our independence.
Based on my experience as a practicing actuary, I believe that independence is at the core of our success today, and remains the best way we can truly execute our stated mission. The FCAS and ACAS designations are recognized globally and specifically referenced in legislation and regulations in jurisdictions in the United States. We did so by unswerving devotion to promoting the best educational path, encouraging outstanding focused research to improve practice and creating the professional environment to define and ultimately meet the expectations of our principals. That global recognition came as a result of our desire to assure that individuals had the opportunity to implement sound actuarial practice everywhere in all of our work products. It was not created from a desire to own all of the professionals known as actuaries or to satisfy acquisitive urges.
With Independence, we are free to pick and choose the paths that fit our needs and not forced to compromise just for the sake of Organization. We have emphasized individual responsibility over the Organization. There have been past attempts to try to reset the goals to emphasize the Organization, made even by the SOA, including so-called "big tent" strategies. The SOA has developed and evolved along different lines -- and even the notion of "principles," recognized by us twenty-five years ago, are still being discussed there.
While we should be pleased that they think enough of our successes to want to subsume us, such faint praise simply disguises the facts. I see no benefit of merging either to our mission or to our members as individual practitioners. The "Organization" doesn't practice, individuals do. We created the environment which allowed individuals to move our practices ahead to serve our principals. I truly believe that independence is the best way to fulfill the expectations of those who granted us permission to practice as individuals and professionals.
I will oppose any attempts to lose or dilute our independence.
This is an issue that has been around for literally decades. Throughout most, if not all, of my career as an actuary and professor, the SOA has wanted to take over (or, more charitably, to "merge with") the CAS. Historically, I believe that much of the reason was because the CAS represented a growing segment of the actuarial profession. But even if the SOA is primarily motivated by a desire to unify the profession in the U.S., I believe that independence is still the better and more effective option for the CAS. Casualty actuarial work is sufficiently different from that of life and pension actuaries to warrant our own professional organization. Our profession, customers, and clients are better served by an organization which is specifically dedicated to supporting and enhancing our work. And, while a unified actuarial organization sounds attractive, the relative sizes of the current CAS and SOA suggests that we might have little influence within a merged organization.
In addition to being an FCAS, I am also a member of the SOA, and as director of the largest university actuarial science program in the U.S., I am delighted to have a role in the preparation of future actuaries for both the CAS and the SOA. Nevertheless, I believe that our best approach is to continue to work closely and cooperate with, but remain independent of, the SOA.
David J. Oakden
My support for any proposal to merge to CAS and the SOA would depend on the terms of the proposed agreement. Realistically, this is not going to happen in the near future. To me the issue is not the independence of the CAS but the ability of the FCAS/ACASs to control the destiny of the Casualty Actuarial Profession in North America and many other parts of the world.
James B. Rowland
I fully support CAS independence. I believe that a merger with the SOA, if allowed to occur, would lead to a muted voice for property/casualty actuaries within the actuarial profession in North America, and would detract from the effectiveness of efforts to improve education and research opportunities for casualty actuaries.
2. What is your position on the SOA including a P&C track on their exam syllabus and what would your action be (if any) on this issue?
Wayne H. Fisher
The SOA is a separate organization and are free to establish a general insurance track if they see that as in the best interests of their members. We should not let their actions become a significant distraction and divert our attention to meeting the needs of our current and future members. Our best defense regarding the SOA initiative is to remain focused on being international thought leaders in our specialty area. We can be the keystone in international collaboration for education and research. That's how we'll continue to grow our organization and add value to our members.
Charles A. Bryan
I do not fully understand why the SOA has decided to pursue this course. The CAS is the credentializing body for casualty actuaries and it is only confusing and counterproductive and not necessary to introduce another body.
My first action is to find out the reasons the SOA is pursuing this plan. Once that is known, I would attempt to address the SOA's issues but would maintain that there should only be one credentialing and research body for casualty actuaries.
David R. Chernick
As I indicated in my original candidate issue identification and discussion document, this action by the SOA may be a threat to our existence as an independent organization. The Board needs to examine all the implications of the SOA action and take all actions necessary to enable the CAS to remain a strong and vibrant organization for the next one-hundred years. As I pointed out in my issues document, our initial focus needs to be on the execution of our basic education, continuing education and research.
Ann M. Conway
I find disappointing that the SOA has decided to include a property and casualty track on their syllabus as this is a significant divergence from the cooperative model that the two societies had historically employed with respect to the education of actuaries. As it is unlikely that the SOA will reverse this decision, the CAS needs to take steps to ensure that our role as the premier provider of general insurance education is maintained.
Our communications to our stakeholders need to emphasize our role in this space. As the exams are currently structured, the SOA would be potentially condensing the general insurance track into two exams and four modules (including DMAC), assuming a parallel structure to the other SOA tracks. In comparison, the CAS upper level education includes five exams and two modules (both comparisons exclude the more general courses such as professionalism and FAC). This suggests that the SOA general insurance track would provide a less substantial property and casualty education than the CAS currently offers. To the extent the CAS chooses to set up its own preliminary exam track, it would have the ability to create preliminary exams that are more oriented toward property and casualty work, thus creating an even broader educational base for our future members.
This is a messaging that we need to get out to employers, as the SOA is already starting to let employers know that ultimately they intend to be a one-stop shop for the education of actuaries, regardless of specialization.
We also have a duty to maintain the highest quality educational process with respect to our current and future students. By working diligently to continue to be the premier provider of general insurance education, the CAS will be in a position to attract the top tier future casualty actuaries.
Michael C. Dubin
I think we should be open minded about gathering ideas from other organization with the intent of improving our education. I don't believe we should be overly concerned about an educational track that is competitive to ours. We are the best at what we do and by focusing on continuing to be the best we won't need to take any other action. We should always consider specific improvements that are suggested by the SOA or anyone else.
I am opposed to such an initiative based on professional grounds.
Any organization can try to assert its desire for expansion and even to attempt to establish a track to create credentials in any area. I am disappointed that the subject organization would attempt to do so with no history or experience in the P&C area. In my view, it violates the basic principles of our profession to not practice in an area in which you are not qualified. It is unfortunately consistent with professionals who feel that all actuaries are alike and that sponsoring additional credentials is a simple extension of experience in credentialing life, pension and healthcare actuaries. As practitioners, we understand the clear distinction among the tools and requirements. We respect those differences as professionals. Credentialing requires much more than giving an exam.
It is also an unfortunate step, that creates a poor impression to our publics of the professionalism we have all worked so hard to build.
The single word that best describes my reaction to the introduction of the SOA P&C ("General Insurance") track is probably disappointment – followed closely by anger.
There seems to be a bit of a "disconnect" in the SOA's actions: espousing the supposed advantages of a unified society, while at the same time attempting to compete with and supercede the CAS and its membership – an organization that would comprise a significant part of a merged society.
I believe that the CAS should guard and reaffirm its independence, and build upon its natural foundation of advantages in casualty actuarial science, built across nearly one-hundred years and thousands of dedicated professionals. At the same time, we should welcome opportunities to cooperate with other professional actuarial organizations, both in the U.S. and internationally.
David J. Oakden
This is a very distressing development. I am sure that the current Board has done all in its power to stop this and further efforts may well be futile. That said, I would do all in my power to drop or significantly modify this proposal. Both the CAS and SOA will have some new Board members later this year. Hopefully the new faces will be able to come up with some better solutions.
James B. Rowland
Competition, when embraced and used to energize, will produce a better product. The CAS can leverage this competition to retain its strength in the education of casualty actuaries, and expand its reach in research initiatives.
3. The SOA appears to be marketing its upcoming General Insurance Track around the world in many countries where people are unaware of the one hundred years of experience and infrastructure advantage the CAS has in general insurance. Would you support a marketing campaign to inform other countries about the CAS ?
Wayne H. Fisher
The SOA is seeking to position itself as a comprehensive actuarial organization with the resources to attract and educate members in markets with less established, or no actuarial organizations. Where actuarial organizations are more established, their leaders are well aware of the CAS through the IAA, ASTIN and such organizations. As noted in my response to Question 1, I think we need to continue and increase our efforts to collaborate internationally and be the valued partner for general insurance actuarial and risk management education and research. That will add value to our current and future members, and build the breadth in terms of knowledge and networking to reach prospective members in the less actuarially developed countries.
Charles A. Bryan
I support informing other countries about the CAS. I would not characterize this as a marketing campaign. We are very active in the many international organizations and I am sure other countries are well aware of the CAS's preeminence in general insurance. We need to be prepared to explain how the SOA's track fits into the picture.
If the SOA is marketing its General Insurance Track as a legitimate alternative to the CAS credentialing, I think they are doing a disservice to their audiences unless they have compared their topics covered and their credentialing process with that of the CAS. The CAS has always been very cooperative with the SOA and has not attempted to develop a separate track for life or pension. We have shared the health track although in the past we have generally ceded most of the activity in the health track to the SOA.
We do need to reevaluate our relationship with the SOA. I have always thought of the relationship as being cousinly. If the SOA is going to continue to pursue a separate casualty track within their organization and promote that track as a "just as good" credential, we must prepare ourselves for those areas where we share responsibility with the SOA so that we can provide necessary support in those areas on our own if that day becomes necessary.
David R. Chernick
This suggestion has many implications including the cost in both volunteer time and expense. I think there is evidence that there is a good recognition of the CAS's expertise and experience around the world. For example, in China the majority of actuaries working for property/casualty insurance companies are members of the CAS or pursuing a CAS designation, even though they can achieve membership in the China Association. I think our initial efforts need to be on execution our basic education, continuing education and research focused on member in the US and Canada, so we remain the organization of choice. Marketing our skills internationally may have a role in our future but I would not make it a priority now.
Ann M. Conway
This observation is in line with the chief reason that the SOA articulated for its decision to introduce a casualty track – to allow it to expand its international presence. With respect to marketing internationally, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. First, marketing in the realm of professional services is at best a difficult process; it is entirely different than marketing a new brand of soda or an electronic device. Instead, I would characterize any such process as raising awareness of the CAS and the value that a dedicated general insurance focus can offer.
The process we could consider varies significantly by country. In countries such as the UK or Australia, there is a high level of recognition of the CAS within the insurance industry and, to a somewhat lesser extent, among regulators. As such, there would not be a strong need to further raise the CAS profile in these jurisdictions. Interestingly, the educational model the SOA is proposing to employ in many ways resembles that of the Institute of Actuaries and the Institute of Actuaries of Australia (the Institutes), and may create similar challenges for its future property and casualty practitioners to those general insurance actuaries have experienced as Institute members.
The bigger potential areas of challenge are in Asia, where the SOA is competing with the Institutes and the CAS is a less well known presence. In the nearer term continued efforts to raise the profile of the CAS may be helpful to maintain the CAS "market share" in countries such as China, but in the longer term it may be that the Chinese market is dominated by a Chinese actuarial society. In less developed markets, the CAS may have the potential to have a greater impact. The SOA has articulated that general insurance "often grows earlier and faster than other business lines" and as such we as a society may have the ability to have a greater impact on these markets. Before making significant investments, though, the CAS does need to assess the potential market opportunity, both in the short and long term.
Michael C. Dubin
I believe the CAS already has appropriate focus on other countries. I don't believe other countries (that are unaware of the CAS) will have an impact on the relative value of the SOA and CAS credentials. Therefore, I do not see the benefit of a marketing campaign specifically geared to this purpose.
I would support continuing our marketing of the CAS as a result of our efforts to demonstrate our willingness to assume the obligations of our mission, provide our knowledge and experience and to re-emphasize that commitment.
We have a strong basis for our standing in such unselfish efforts. Based on my work experience and as Editor of Variance, I am aware that the CAS has a significant recognition as a reliable source of expertise and knowledge of Property & Casualty Insurance and non-Life/General Insurance. That is a result of our dedication to education and research to better apply our profession to real world problems. We have made our intentions to communicate and assist well known to all parties and have responded when asked by those in need of that expertise. I believe that we have created active communication links through existing committees and initiatives, and through publications. We have established strong relationships with actuaries outside of North America and have worked closely with professionals around the world to both participate on our committees and initiatives (e.g., the Editorial Board and as reviewers and contributors, research committees, among others.) Our volunteer programs show our strong desire and willingness to provide our knowledge and experience. I would strongly support our continuing to do so.
I would also continue to measure the quality of our knowledge of those needs by following up on such efforts with a re-examination of actions and requirements.
I would support a marketing/education campaign to inform other countries about the CAS – and in fact I believe that we should strive to ensure effective marketing and exposure of our Society and our members' professional capabilities far more broadly: for example, among universities and companies, as well as internationally.
One of the big questions in my mind regarding the new SOA general insurance track is why the SOA thinks that any company looking to hire a casualty actuary would prefer an FSA-General-Track to an FCAS. When it comes to casualty actuarial science, the CAS has an overwhelming advantage in terms of history, experience, culture, research, and infrastructure. We need to reinforce these advantages with our clients and customers.
It seems to me that the SOA may not understand that the casualty actuarial profession and the CAS are not just about exams and designations – they are about people and experiences, culture and tradition, as well as what is best for our customers and our members. The CAS has a rich history and a strong foundation that is comprised of thousands of dedicated and talented professionals. This great strength must not be lost, but instead should be reinforced and enhanced.
Another area ripe for marketing is academia. Since most students in university actuarial science programs make, before or upon graduation, a largely irrevocable decision regarding which actuarial path to take – CAS or SOA – it behooves us to enhance our interactions and influence amongst professors and students. As a professor, I can say that there is definitely room for the CAS to improve here – overall, the CAS does not have as strong a profile on campus as the SOA does.
David J. Oakden
I would hope that we are doing this already but we may wish to expand our efforts. Unfortunately, competing with the SOA wastes a lot of valuable resources. (See my response to question 2.)
James B. Rowland
In the Identification of Issues section of "Meet the Candidates", I identified the need for the CAS to enhance its presence internationally. A marketing campaign is a good first step, and other longer term initiatives will be required to expand the CAS voice in general insurance globally.
4. "What do you hope to accomplish as a board member that you haven't been able to accomplish in your previous volunteer activities?"
Wayne H. Fisher
I hope to bring the perspectives I've gained through two terms on the board, and numerous committees, to bear on the current challenges facing the CAS, in particular the emerging SOA GI Track initiative and the potential for competition for new members, impact on the AAA, and so forth. So, in my mind, it isn't what I hope to accomplish that I haven't been able to accomplish previously, but how to use my experience to face the current and future challenges.
Charles A. Bryan
My volunteer activities have included Board membership. My hope is that I could use my prior experience at all levels within the CAS to help guide our organization on the issues which it faces now and will face over the next three years. I have seen many of these issues before and can bring historical context to these issues as well as current knowledge. I have accomplished that objective of helping guide the CAS in prior service on the Board and hope to accomplish that again.
David R. Chernick
The distinction between a Board member and a volunteer is that the Board sets policy while a committee member role is operational in nature. In my case, as a prior Board member I believe there is much more work to do in focusing the Board on important policy issues and eliminating time spent on operational issues. More importantly, with the SOA expanding its scope into general insurance we need to be diligent in analyzing all implications of this action.
Ann M. Conway
While my volunteer activities have touched on a wide range of areas, at the end of the day the impact of any specific committee or task force activity is limited in scope relative to the potential impact of a Board member. A Board member's role has a significantly wider scope, including the responsibility for helping to establish a strategic direction for the CAS, which is critically important at this juncture. A Board member can identify issues and bring them to the Board's attention in a more rapid manner than a committee or task force member. In the current environment, the ability to help move issues along in a more timely manner is critical.
Michael C. Dubin
I hope to bring the vision of CAS leadership to be closer to the vision of the fellowship at large. Currently, the CAS seems to commonly make decisions that fellows in general do not seem to understand or agree with.
I am drawn to directly participating on the Board for two reasons: the intent of other organizations to improperly meddle in the foundations of professionalism and my observations of the evolving technology and tools in our practice.
The first reason is the continuation of an effort by the SOA to gather all the actuaries under one roof. This has been actively pursued for many years. It has reached a new level of cynicism with their recent foray based on their disappointment that we have remained independent. I do not fear the consequences of their steps to our relevancy or reputation. However, I want to work with my colleagues on the Board and the members to assure that our reaction and activities build on our professionalism and regard for our practice and not inadvertently replace it with a weakening of our independence or primary mission. I have had past experience in such an environment and have seen how good intentions can result in unfortunate conclusions.
The second reason is built on my observations about the evolution of tools and methods. We accept that CE is required but our development and application of professional tools continue to outpace their broader use. That is not unusual, unless we feel that we can ignore, as some do, the technical evolution that we live in. We have taken many steps to make those tools accessible to practitioners. I want to reinforce and amplify those efforts to include supporting those practitioners moving in the direction of employing those tools. Replacing actuarial judgment with further refinement of our tools will take place in any event and we want to redouble our efforts to assure our members have that sufficient access to apply them.
I view my numerous volunteer activities with the CAS as a foundation for understanding our Society as a whole. Board service is an opportunity to bring the pieces together, and to participate in strategic and operational considerations for the future. In particularly, I hope to contribute an educational and academic perspective in support of the future growth and evolution of the CAS.
David J. Oakden
As the prior questions illustrate the CAS is facing some significant challenges. I hope that my background and abilities can contribute to the successful resolution of these and other issues which will emerge. Together, we can keep the CAS strong for future casualty actuaries.
James B. Rowland
My candidacy is more a reflection of my desire to serve the CAS in a broader fashion after many years of serving in multiple varied capacities where I have gained practical insights on many aspects of the organization.
5. There have been numerous initiatives in the past years (e.g. Future Education Methods, CERA, Joint Discipline, Continuing Education) that have blurred the lines between the CAS and other actuarial organizations such as the AAA, SOA, and IAA. Do you believe that this blurring of lines between organizations and jurisdictions is a good thing? Why or why not?
Wayne H. Fisher
I'm not so sure lines have been blurred but sometimes the rationale and benefits to the CAS of the various collaborative initiatives haven't been clear and well communicated. With the SOA GI track initiative increasing sensitivity in this area, I support the approach the CAS's Risk Management Committee, and the EC, is taking, in that we will continuously monitor all such collaborative activities and ensure that the benefits are crystal clear and produce benefits greater than what we can do for our members ourselves. Do we unduly facilitate a competitor gaining credibility in our space, how realistic is it for us to do the activity ourselves, and so forth. The key is vigilance; continuing collaborative activities that meet our criteria and taking independent actions where they do not.
Charles A. Bryan
I would not classify these efforts as blurring the lines. I see these efforts as efficient ways to serve our members' needs. For all the activities mentioned there was a specific need of multiple organizations for the same effort and so the organizations combined their efforts. I see that as a good thing. I do not think the lines are at all blurred.
The efforts presuppose good will on the part of all participants. We must question the good will of the SOA- the development of a casualty track within the SOA does not appear to be goodwill. If the good will breaks down, there will be less reason to participate in joint efforts.
David R. Chernick
The characterization that the various initiatives listed have blurred the lines between organizations and jurisdictions is an oversimplification of some very complicated issues the CAS has been forced to deal with or has chosen to deal with. I don't necessarily agree that the examples cited have blurred the lines between the various organizations. A complete response would require a separate detailed discussion of the background of each initiative, which I think is well beyond the scope and purpose of this discussion forum and not practical to do within the tight deadlines we have been given for a response. In any case, in general I do not think that a new process or initiative that "blurs the lines" between related organizations or jurisdictions is a good thing. The CAS board needs to analyze each initiative based on its own merits. In some cases the final policy can turn out to be the best of two or three evils because another organization decides to make a change that will affect CAS members.
Ann M. Conway
Within the context of the multiple issues raised in this question the "blurring of lines" is not consistently good or bad. With respect to education, at one time it made sense for the SOA and the CAS to collaborate as both organizations were aligned with respect to the provision of basic education. The SOA's decision to offer a general insurance track has changed the nature of that cooperation and the CAS will need to evolve its strategy around both the preliminary and the higher level exams.
In my viewpoint, the nature of the CERA treaty made it necessary for the collaborative "line blurring" approach that was employed to allow the CAS to award the designation, particularly as the CAS was not always working from a position of strength in this respect. Now that the CAS has accomplished this, the challenge going forward is to establish our presence in the market in a way that distinguishes an FCAS/CERA from a CERA with a different professional designation than FCAS.
Our membership approved a change to the CAS Constitution and Bylaws in 2011 to allow for joint discipline. By definition a joint discipline process involves working across organizations but I do believe there are a number of advantages that more than offset any potential disadvantages. To me the most compelling advantage is that from the general publics' perspective, the definition of an actuary is often blurry; many members of the public who know what an actuary does may not know the differences among casualty actuaries, pension actuaries, and life actuaries (to name a few). As such, any lapse (either actual or perceived) in conduct may have a broader impact than the actual incident may have merited. The lessons of the UK, where the actuarial profession is not necessarily self-regulating, are relevant in this regard. Other reasons cited for a joint discipline process, such as disparate impacts for those with membership in more than one organization, are less compelling to me as this affects a relatively small number of individuals. I believe that the approach laid out as a result of the 2011 election represents a reasonable approach to an independent position for the CAS and a collaborative view across the actuarial organizations.
Continuing Education is an area where our past collaborative efforts may be different than our future ones. In some cases, we may need the scale of combined organizations (for example with respect to the ERM Symposium) to continue to deliver an appropriate level of Continuing Education to our members. In making these decisions, though, we will have to view our partners through a different lens than we have historically.
Collaboration with the IAA is necessary if we are to be an international organization, not only from the perspective of our members who live and/or practice internationally but also from the perspective of our members who live and practice in the U.S. It does behoove us as an organization, though, to be clear with our stakeholders as to where the boundaries of each organization's role begin and end.
Michael C. Dubin
I do not think blurring the lines is generally a good thing. Certain areas that are not at the core of the purpose of the CAS may be more efficiently handled jointly. But, I also do not think the lines have been blurred in the most important areas impacting the value of our organization. We are still independent, with aspects that matter most, and will remain that way.
I would find acceptable such activities when they are consistent with our ability to protect the quality and reputation of our credentialing. Given the appropriate implementation and follow up monitoring, I don't fear such activities among professional organizations as it relates to the core mission, as long as the Board and the leadership do not blindly delegate the quality and responsibility of our credentialing and continuously monitor actions to assure that goal. In my opinion, that means that the Board and leadership must continually review such participation and re-evaluate the goals against our mission. For example, a Joint Discipline process seems a worthy goal on its face, as long as the CAS remains the final arbiter of the granting of the credentials we own.
I do not see any value to blurring those professional lines, however, as other organizations may feel appropriate. In my experience, I have not witnessed any demand on the part of our principals for a "blurring" of actuaries as professionals. Actually, I have seen the opposite view. Our principals recognize that actuaries have different experiences, needs, different environments, and principals for whom the work is performed. Those boundaries are clear to the users of our work products and we need to be sure they remain sharply in focus.
Our core mission has remained unchanged and there is and should be no blurring to that dedicated focus.
We want to avoid the attempt to confuse cooperating with other organizations in efforts that benefit our members with blurring the mission. The blurred vision may be more on the part of other organizations who fail to see or respect the differences among the professions and the paths that we took to our success.
I would not say that "blurred" lines are good – but I do believe that strong lines of cooperation amongst independent actuarial organizations are advantageous and often essential.
Many of these initiatives represent strong opportunities with great potential. Such opportunities, to the extent that they involve multiple societies, should not require blurring of organizational lines. It should generally be possible and desirable to cooperate with other professional societies without sacrificing organizational integrity.
The more difficult situations involve initiatives which may not be best for the CAS or favored by its membership, but which could put us at a competitive disadvantage relative to other societies taking them on. As an example (for additional details, see another question for candidates), I am not in favor of expanding the use of university coursework in order to waive exams. But, if other societies or professions implement such a scheme, we would be at a disadvantage in the minds of university students trying to decide which society or profession to follow. We need to do what is best for us, and keep those organizational lines from blurring too much – while at the same time recognizing market realities, and working together with other organizations where possible and appropriate.
David J. Oakden
The actuarial profession is a small profession and it is a global profession. Many of the issues we face are not unique to the CAS and by working together we can leverage on the work done by other organizations. We can also avoid confusing the public who do not understand our internal divisions. The CAS does not follow the recommendations of the other organizations blindly and in the cases you mention we have modified the proposal or maintained some control as appropriate.
James B. Rowland
20/20 vision is always preferred to blurred vision! I support working cooperatively with other actuarial organizations with a focus on assisting the CAS to accomplish its mission and meet the needs of its members.
6. The Council of US Presidents (CUSP) is an Academy subcommittee but it seems to act independently of the AAA. CUSP initiatives appear to be brought straight to the CAS Board without vetting by the AAA Board or CAS members. Do you believe that this sort of governance structure is a healthy one for a member-based organization like the CAS?
Wayne H. Fisher
I don't recall many, or even any, CUSP initiatives coming to the CAS board such that there is a governance issue. CUSP provides an effective communication vehicle among the various actuarial organizations, and any initiatives do come to the board or membership depending on the issue. We face challenges to our profession; eg., financial engineers, GARP, statisticians, etc., and coordination between the leaders of our various organizations is valuable in helping us speak as one profession when that is appropriate.
Charles A. Bryan
I do not think it is correct to characterize CUSP as an AAA subcommittee. When the need for greater coordination among the U.S. actuarial organizations was decided upon, the decision was made to house the group within the Academy for administrative purposes. However, from an organizational standpoint, CUSP is independent. So it is appropriate that initiatives be brought directly to the respective Boards without vetting. Similar structures are used for the ASB and the ABCD.
David R. Chernick
I have always believed as a CAS Board member, that input from the membership is essential on any major policy issue. We have various processes in place to get that input, one of which is to personally discuss issues with other members. I do think that the Board is aware of the membership's input on major issues and in many cases the membership opinions differ widely. In the end, the Board is elected by the membership to make policy decisions based on what individual Board members believe is best for the membership as a whole. I am committed to that type of approach.
Ann M. Conway
Technically, CUSP is an Academy Board committee with two primary roles; profession-wide supervision, and a discussion forum for significant issues affecting the U.S. actuarial profession. Given that CUSP is a Board level committee of the AAA, I would be surprised if CUSP initiatives went straight to the CAS Board without vetting by the AAA Board, though I am not in a position to determine if the process actually works that way. The area where CUSP has had the most impact recently has been with respect to the joint discipline process and the proposal developed was put to a vote of the CAS members. CUSP has also recently formed a task force to evaluate the structure of the US based actuarial profession and the task force includes well respected members of all the organizations. The task force goal is to devise an organizational structure for the US actuarial profession, although any changes implemented will be up to the individual organizations. I do think there is a need for collaboration on significant issues across the leadership of the various organizations but also believe that as a member based organization the CAS is ultimately responsible to its members for its decisions around these issues.
Michael C. Dubin
I do believe it is healthy for anyone, including CUSP, to bring initiatives directly to the CAS Board. We need to work on increasing the lines of communication. Since the CUSP initiatives are decided upon by the Board of Directors, elections like this one and subsequent communications with Directors are the opportunities for our Fellows to have a say.
I believe that the Board should remain the sole active decision making body for the CAS policy and related actions, but must importantly include essential feedback and acceptance by the members. Communications by the Board which actively seek out the views of the members including a direct vote on essential matters by the membership is necessary. Technology today assures our ability to obtain such input and to perform such votes.
Our view of CUSP as an important vehicle to expose and find ways to resolve professional issues is acceptable and not in and of itself a problem. Recognition of similarities among actuarial organizations' associations should be communicated and embraced, including through discussions within CUSP. Operational matters and even some professional matters faced by professional associations at times have similar causes and may have similar solutions. Sharing those and communicating remains a good thing and is common among many associations.
The CAS Board of Directors must remain the policy making organization for the CAS and should be the point of contact for finalizing initiatives recommended by an organization like CUSP. But such Board actions can only be reflective of the needs of the members by accessing opinions through two-way communication and direct voting by the members.
Governance of the CAS, however, should not be in the scope of that relationship with CUSP. We should not delegate governance to other organizations, unless we certain of acceptable outcomes.
Frequent and extensive input from CAS members should always be encouraged, on all issues affecting casualty actuaries.
In fairness, if something like CUSP includes among its members the President and President-Elect of the CAS, then CAS members are indeed represented. And then CAS members would be further represented by the CAS Board through its deliberations. Indeed, it's probably unreasonable, undesirable, and inefficient to survey the entire CAS membership on every issue. But, certainly, the general opinions of the membership should always be encouraged and respected, and there should be a mechanism available for the transmittal of those opinions. And, of course, major and contentious issues should certainly be vetted before the entire membership.
David J. Oakden
Issues can come to the Board from a variety of sources. Before voting on an issue the Board needs to consider what additional information (including the reaction of members) is required. If all of the US Presidents decide that an issue needs to be brought before each of their Boards then I see no reason to require an additional process in every case. It is up to the Board to decide on the individual merits of each issue.
James B. Rowland
While not having direct exposure to the issue noted in the question, it would seem appropriate for the CAS President and President-Elect (CUSP members) to bring issues of importance to the CAS to the CAS Board for discussion first, then vetting with the membership if needed. I believe there was adequate communication with membership in a recent issue that this group addressed – Disciplinary Process of the U.S. Actuarial Profession.
7. In March 2010 the CAS Board approved a resolution that would allow the CAS to grant waivers for CAS exams to those who have been granted exam credit through the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA), subject to review and recommendation by the CAS Education Policy Committee and approval by the EC. As the CIA has moved forward with the Future Education Methods initiative, this resolution allows the EC to give exam waivers to candidates who have received exam credit via taking courses at Canadian universities. Do you support this resolution (why or why not?) and how much weight should be put on member's opinions regarding issues such as these?
Wayne H. Fisher
The Canadians are long time, valuable partners in developing the actuarial profession in North America. That said, they are an independent organization and need to take actions that they believe best meet the needs of their members. There are far fewer, large universities in Canada with actuarial and risk management departments and the CIA views their situation as different than ours. I believe we need to respect their decision and find ways to continue to collaborate. We need to be practical in this regard, too; wfishith mutual recognition, we already accept as members actuaries from other organizations that have variations of FEM.
As for the CAS, I think the relevant committees should continue to explore how best to educate our members for successful careers in tomorrow's changing and challenging environment. Any significant changes should at a minimum be the subject of a survey to get our members views, with the board having that perspective in making any decisions. Doctors, lawyers, accountants and such professionals all take licensing, or similar, examinations regardless of where and how they received their education; for now, at least, I see no reason for us to change our exam based criteria for membership.
Charles A. Bryan
I do support this resolution and the way it was handled, without requiring an explicit member vote. There are some check and balances embedded within the structure. First, the CIA, a trusted partner, must decide on the appropriateness of the Future Education Method in granting the credit. Second, the Education Policy Committee must approve the approach and that is further vetted by the EC. I believe those checks and balances should be sufficient.
I interpret the "weight on members' opinions" being a question as to whether such an item should be put to a member's vote. There is always a fine line between giving committees enough flexibility to do their jobs and subjecting every major decision to a member vote. The Board can submit any question to member vote and often follows that course. In this situation, I believe the Board was correct in taking the view that there are enough checks and balances built in to assure the "granting of exams credit" process will not be abused.
David R. Chernick
The prior question also touched on the importance of member input to Board policy decisions. I believe as a CAS Board member, input from the membership is essential on any major policy issue. How much weight is given to membership opinions is always going to be up to each individual Board member while they consider all the facts surrounding the issue and participate in the Board deliberations.
While I don't have a complete background on the Board deliberations and relevant related facts on this issue, I think the Board policy decision is a reasonable approach to solution to a situation forced on the CAS by the CIA. If nothing was done, a potential situation would be created where Canadian Casualty Actuaries were a member of the CIA, but not a member of the CAS. I assume the CAS Board had significant deliberation on this issue and made the policy decision based on all the facts. The resolution included safeguards for a review by the Education Policy Committee and ultimate approval by the EC to ensure that these Candidates have acquired the skills we test for in the lower level exams. In retrospect, this policy decision actually responds to the current threat from the SOA. If we don't grant waivers and the SOA does, then going forward these Canadian Casualty Actuaries could be members of the CIA and SOA, but not members of the CAS.
Ann M. Conway
From the perspective of organizational governance, going back to revisit decisions that have been taken can complicate the process of organizational momentum. With that being said, the resolution to grant waivers needs to be evaluated from the perspective of the implications for our members. The issue of university education is one that will not go away; it impacts Canadian actuaries and actuaries across the globe as many non US designations are partly or wholly university based.
I am not strongly supportive of efforts to substitute university credit for the examination process, in large part because of the differences in US university education relative to higher education in other countries. There may be specific situations, though, where the substitution of college courses for exams may make sense, for example VEE. Like VEE, FEM is more applicable to the preliminary exams. Given the strong long-term relationship that the CAS and CIA have established, the process the CAS has implemented is a reasonable compromise, as long as it does not create a back-door to our examination process.
Similar to the issue of consolidation, our members' reaction to FEM was strongly negative. The leadership of the CAS needs to give appropriate weight to the members' perspective as it moves forward in developing educational models.
Michael C. Dubin
I support prior Board resolutions, but this one should be monitored and not overused. Based on the facts, I would seriously considering changing or canceling the resolution. Changes in the procedures to become a Fellow seem to be a common area of disagreement between leadership and Fellows. The opinions of the membership are of the utmost importance.
I do not believe that we should delegate the quality of our designation. I believe that quality exams which we prepare and other qualifications as we deem appropriate, should be the only foundation for our credentials. Delegating the credentialing process means introducing the significant risk of the loss of quality control and potentially acceptance of the credentials.
While we may have done so in the past, such decisions are not irrevocable. Any such change in requirements should receive conscious Board acceptance and approval on a case by case basis. The fact that these are Canadian institutions isn't the relevant fact. The relevant question is: Do the educational requirements of the institution meet or exceed the requirements of credentialing we have adopted?
The quality of the designations, FCAS and ACAS are at the core of our mission. Whenever we sign a document with those credentials, we assume the obligations of our standards of practice, principles and code of conduct. Whenever the CAS delegates the use of its name, we need to carefully and continuously consider the actions and statements made on our behalf. Previous delegation should never mean that we permanently and without obligation permit anyone or any organization to act on our behalf in a way that affects our credentials or principles. We need to maintain conscious and active approval and agreement in a manner that it is consistent with our mission.
In general, I am not in favor of extensive use of university coursework as the basis for exam waivers – and I'm a university professor myself!
This is a tough question, and one that has implications beyond the specific CIA-related resolution mentioned in the question. As is so often the case, much of the issue ultimately revolves around implementation. While a waiver policy like this can seem reasonable on the surface, my concern with the implementation of such a policy is a function of several factors. First, the quality and rigorousness of the university course is out of our control. While in theory the EC or another committee could review the course and student performance underlying the application for an exam waiver, in practice it's very difficult to make such an evaluation from an external perspective. Second, if a certain grade would be required in a course to qualify for a waiver – well, university course grading can be very subjective (or, at the very least, is not nearly as objective as a professional actuarial exam). Third, course quality and grading very much lack consistency between universities and professors – and sometimes even across time for the same professor.
Certainly, there are potential advantages to a course, when compared with a stand-alone exam. There may also be practical considerations – we may be at a competitive disadvantage in attracting good people to our society and profession if other organizations accept university credit in lieu of exams, and we do not.
Bottom line: I would hesitate to approve a resolution like that referenced in the question, without a firm, rigorous, and well-informed set of guidelines for approval of course-based waivers.
David J. Oakden
It may cost me some votes but I am a strong supporter of this resolution and the CIA initiative to implement FEM. My reasons are as follows:
- Multiple choice exams are not the best way to test the material on the preliminary exams;
- University training is generally superior to self-study for the material on the preliminary exams (this is not necessarily true for the higher level exams);
- The biggest concern is the passing mark; however, the CIA has the same concern and have taken significant steps to ensure that our standards are maintained;
- We currently grant exam waivers for students taking courses in the UK and Australia;
- Unlike the US, most Canadian actuaries graduated from actuarial science programs and members generally support FEM;
- It will likely reduce travel time;
- Candidates must still pass 5 higher level exams plus on-line courses before they can get their FCAS;
- If we participate, we can learn from the Canadian experience and hopefully this will lead to improvements in educational methods (not just giving credit for university courses);
- Universities are important for research and training future actuaries, and several Canadian universities are among the best in the world. This is a way of showing them our support; and
- Candidates who do not attend actuarial programs will still be able to write the preliminary multiple-choice exams as they do currently.
I hope that this program will eventually be extended to US universities; however, I realize that a large majority of CAS members do not presently support this. My hope is that with the Canadian experience we will be able to demonstrate the benefits of FEM and prove that our standards have been maintained. Hopefully, this would convince most of our members that this is a good idea. I would not; however, vote to extend FEM to the US if it was opposed by a majority of our members.
For the record, I was the Chair of a joint CAS/ SOA/ CIA task force on FEM. We recommended going ahead with FEM but only if it was supported by our members. There was no support from CAS or SOA members in the US but there was support from Canadian members. As a result the CIA decided to proceed alone.
James B. Rowland
My position on this issue is clearly stated in the Identification of Issues section of "Meet the Candidates". Based upon my unique background and qualifications stated there, I believe this is a potentially viable solution in Canada (subject to results of the current monitoring taking place), but is not workable in the United States due to the lack of uniform standards in higher education and the excessive cost that would be required to develop and administer such a program.
*****Board of Director's Candidates Only*****
8. In both ratemaking and reserving, insurers have increasingly been utilizing predictive modeling approaches. In some cases actuaries are performing these functions, and in other cases they are performed by non-actuarial statisticians. Some have argued that the CAS should distance itself from more sophisticated applications of probability and statistics. In a column in the May 2012 issue of the Actuarial Review, title "Point - A New Actuarial Organization is Needed," the author expresses his opinion that "the CAS has lost sight of what has traditionally defined the uniqueness of the actuarial profession and is now in the process of gradually transforming itself into a trade association for applied statisticians."
Do you agree with the sentiment expressed by the author in the referenced article that, by increasing the level of statistical rigor in the profession, the CAS is effectively transforming itself into a trade association for applied statisticians? If not, then to what extent should the CAS be encouraging and training actuaries, through basic and/or continuing education, for jobs that require expertise in probability and statistics?
Charles A. Bryan
I have always viewed actuaries as being like engineers in concept. Actuaries apply probability and statistics as well as predictive modeling and many other disciplines (such as financial engineering, parts of law, data analysis, systems, etc.) in solving problems or interpreting situations involving the evaluation of future financial contingencies in a risk transfer situation.
Historically, the two most common and important types of problems that actuaries encountered were in ratemaking and reserving. Our profession has developed many techniques in both areas to assist in answering questions in these areas- trend, development, credibility, etc. As in other applied sciences, some members will choose to primarily apply others' research efforts to solving problems and some members will specialize in the research oriented work that might not have immediate practical applications. Our organization must support all the actuaries' professional interests in the area of analysis of future financial contingencies.
Financial endeavors are becoming more sophisticated by a greater use of probability and statistics and we as the professional organization performing analysis of future financial contingencies must also become more sophisticated. However, our eye is always on how we can use the increased sophistication to solve actuarial problems (issues involving future financial contingencies). We do not pursue the added sophistication for its own sake but only insofar as it will help us solve problems. Various ways of treating and determining proper loss development is a good example of the increasing sophistication. Here, the actuarial discipline can encompass both the use of simple development approaches as well as very sophisticated regression, modeling and probabilistic approaches. The most important issue for actuarial science is the improvement expected in answering the questions from the increased sophistication rather than the increased sophistication itself.
With that as a background, I will briefly answer the question posed. I do not believe the CAS is transforming itself in to a trade association and I do not believe it should. The CAS remains an educational and research organization. Its major efforts are in constructing and giving high quality examinations, credentializing people for casualty actuarial work, and performing research and education in casualty areas by holding seminars, publishing papers, and disseminating relevant papers from other organizations. We are expanding those areas where our members can be used but not out of the motivation to promote more jobs. We have separated out trade association type activities and assigned them to the Academy.
The CAS rarely expresses any opinion on public policy issues and does not explicitly promote the position that casualty actuaries must be used for certain types of work. Any activity such as that would normally be housed in the Academy.
The CAS stays true to its mission and we do not need nor would it be beneficial to have still another actuarial organization.
David R. Chernick
The referenced article was written by Mike Miller, a long time acquaintance of mine. His observation that newer members tend to be focused on statistical rigor than on using those skills as a true expert in the analysis of future costs is concerning. I think his conclusion is exaggerated. I am not convinced that there has been a significant transformation in our membership since I started studying for exams thirty-six years ago. There were always members who had significant expertise in modeling and statistics and were comfortable in that type of role. Other members, using their actuarial education as a basis, developed into practical "future cost analysts". I hired, trained and developed to some extent well over one hundred members over the years and my experience is that we continue to have a diverse membership. Some of these colleagues will always be more of technician, than a business leader. However, there are also many examples where these colleagues are currently serving as chief actuaries for different insurance companies. The exam process is only part of an actuary's development. On the job training by experienced actuaries is also an essential part of developing young actuaries into business leaders. Some more recent evidence is my son, who is an FSA in the health field with eight years of experience. He had no problem passing the basic exams (where all the probability, statistics and modeling is). He now has a high level director position with Humana, where he has to use his experience and actuarial and business judgment to succeed in his job. He is definitely not an applied statistician.
I was on several task forces years ago which reviewed the syllabus. The concepts of familiarity and mastery of various topics came out of the task force work. I believe the material on the first four exams falls in the familiarity category. Actuaries should know enough about those concepts to be able to use the results and explain the results to others, but do not need to be experts in building a GLM from scratch. I don't think the CAS should be training students or new members for jobs that require expertise in probability and statistics specifically. I do think that those jobs can be good learning experiences for new actuaries and many of our younger members will have the skills to do them. Some will always gravitate to these more technical jobs for their whole careers, but I am confident that if we continue to attract the right people to the profession, many will also gravitate to practical "future cost analysts" or as I would say it: a good business actuary.
Having said that, I do think this type of transformation is not good for our organization, but I don't think the cause is due to a change in the CAS's philosophy on basic education as Mike implies. I think if anything it goes back to execution of our basic education, monitoring syllabus creep and keeping the exam process focused on testing a candidate's ability to interpret, analyze and synthesis information, instead of just regurgitating statistical formula. This execution becomes even more important as we deal with the SOA initiative to offer a general insurance track.
Ann M. Conway
I do not agree with the author, while I respect his viewpoint. From my perspective, incorporating predictive modeling approaches and more sophisticated applications of probability and statistics is a natural evolution in the casualty actuarial profession. It is important to remember that these items are just tools, though, and in many ways the migration to more sophisticated statistical applications mirrors a similar evolution from hand calculations to main frame produced loss development triangles to spreadsheet based analysis tools. The tools facilitate the analysis we can perform and allow us to incorporate additional scope in our analyses. The tools do not, though, replace the judgments and insights that we as casualty actuaries provide. What our employers and principals value about CAS members is our deep understanding of the financial implications of the modeling we have performed. Our challenge as a society is to keep the tool box fresh and maintain an educational process that allows both our current and future members to continue to develop the highest level of actuarial expertise. Otherwise, we will ultimately be replaced by a software tool.
Michael C. Dubin
I believe actuarial work requires expertise in probability and statistics. While the CAS should embrace the use of more complex methods as technology increases, the extent to which we should be encouraging training should be based on the actual practice of our members. In other words, techniques that become widely adopted by our members should be included in the syllabus. Common practice of our members should determine what is generally accepted actuarial practice, not decisions of CAS leadership.
Like actuarial models, complex statistical models are sometimes wrong by a lot. No one has a crystal ball. The tradition of our members is that when we are wrong, we revise our model and our models automatically revise themselves as the data emerges. Complex statistical models, on the other hand, seem to require more understanding of the underlying process and are based on the model being an accurate prediction of the future process. The statistical model seems to break down when the process changes, while the traditional actuarial models can still work with revisions. The point is not that traditional actuarial models are better, but that both traditional and statistical models have value in certain circumstances. It is important that we retain our expertise of traditional models. If we don't, who will be able to present them to the public?
I present an example to help explain my understanding of the position of the article's author. Recently, a client hired me and a statistician to each build a model to estimate a liability so that the client could choose one to use for its projection. We did so and the models had similar results. We each explained our model to the client and the client (with agreement from many other interested parties) chose to use the actuarial model going forward. To the client, the actuarial model was preferable because it appeared to be more directly based on historical data with fewer assumptions and that future results would be likely to be directly related to the future emerged data. The statistical model, on the other hand, seemed to the client to require many assumptions that did not clearly have explanatory value and it was difficult for the client to envision how future experience would impact the results.
The point is that loss development and other traditional actuarial techniques have a value to the public and we are the experts at utilizing them. To the extent we overly embrace statistical models at the expense of what traditionally made us unique, future members may not be adept at explaining traditional techniques. In that case, the public runs the risk of not being able to give traditional techniques consideration.
I believe that a working knowledge at the same level as the other requirements for other areas in our credentialing is necessary. I do not agree with the conclusion of the article concerning the impact of extensive use of statistical methods; that use is consistent with an evolving technical tool set.
I believe that we must maintain the gold standard for the credentials we provide and we must remain relevant. That means that we need to provide the training materials, guidance and research to assure our principals that our work products are the best available and reflect the quality of the tools we accept in practice.
We have always been aware of tools in other areas, such as statistics, probability, economics, investment theory and particularly recently, predictive modeling. We have drawn freely from those areas and modified or created new ones that work explicitly to solve the problems we are asked to address.
The article seems to maintain a level of proficiency that risks our falling behind the tools available. If that is sufficient for any practitioner given their own work products, that may be satisfactory. However, it may be sufficient for all practitioners and we need to be sensitive to those needs.
We strive to replace judgment by as many facts and proper inferences as possible to assure our principals of the necessary knowledge to make sound decisions. That has always meant replacing "actuarial judgment" with techniques and methods, including statistical methods in use by other professions. Applying the full range of tools is necessary as we advance our abilities and technology.
Rigor is necessary for underlying theoretical development to assure us that the tools have a firm foundation. However, that rigor may come before a method is deployed or after the methods are used. Chain ladder methods have been used for decades and judged to be predictive by professionals. Only over the last 20 years have professionals developed the statistical foundations and appropriate variability measures. In some instances, the research comes first and when it does, the rigor needed to apply it safely is necessary.
This constant evolution is an important part of our culture but to be complacent and ignore the realities of the existence of those tools is not on the path of the gold standard. The tools available in other disciplines are just as important as the fundamentals of accounting, investment, contracts and ratemaking which we deem essential to work with our principals. We need not be experts in every one of those areas, but need to have sufficient knowledge to implement those tools consistent with standards of practice. In my opinion, those are the requirements and responsibilities of being a professional actuary.
While I respect and largely agree with the concerns raised in the May 2012 Actuarial Review opinion piece, I disagree with the proposed solution. Instead, I believe that these issues can be addressed within the context of the CAS organization.
There is no question that the CAS faces significant challenges (and commensurate opportunities), and that the historical and current structure and operational approach of our society can be improved and enhanced. However, I do not believe that a completely new organization is necessary. Furthermore, Mr. Miller’s suggestion that the new organization would not need academics (ahem!), economists, or mathematical model-builders is, in my opinion, actually a step in the wrong direction. It is those very kinds of people – and many diverse others – who will ultimately help the casualty actuarial profession to evolve and to serve the future needs of companies and society.
I do agree that we should never lose sight of who we are, and where we came from. We do not have to, and should not, be all things to all people. Our core business, I believe, involves the identification, quantification, and management of risk – with our historical role typically concentrating more on the quantification aspect. And to better do this, in response to an ever more complex world, we should enhance our financial, economic, statistical, and model-building skills. Because it is not the skills and techniques themselves that define who we are and what we do. It is the context and framework in which we use them.
I always tell my students that actuarial education is not about learning a collection of formulas and techniques. Actuarial education is learning and absorbing a way of thinking, and trying to better understand how the world, with all its complex interrelationships, works. One cannot adequately analyze a set of data without knowing where it came from, how it emerged, the underlying environment from which it sprung. This is the way good actuaries think – with great interdisciplinarity in evaluating risk contingencies. That is the context which defines us, and which differentiates us from others whose skill sets may overlap somewhat with ours. This context will allow our profession, with the development of additional skills and tools attained through research and education, to evolve and to continue to be essential to the risk management process.
David J. Oakden
Mr. Miller makes some good points but I do not agree with his conclusions or his proposed solution. In addition to professionalism, what sets us apart from statisticians and economists is our deep understanding of the business and what those formulas mean in the context of the (insurance) business. However, what sets us apart from underwriters is our understanding of statistical and mathematical techniques. We need to make sure that our members have the knowledge to apply these techniques for the benefit of the organizations that they serve. We need to work with the academic community and make sure that our members have access to the latest techniques. As actuaries we need to balance our business knowledge with our technical skills. If Mr. Miller is correct we have gone too far on the technical skills and neglected business knowledge. While I do not totally agree with Mr. Miller, we may want to review our primary and continuing education offerings to make sure that we have the right balance between business and technical skills.
James B. Rowland
I agree with the author that the profession is vastly different than it was a few decades ago, specifically in relation to the advances in mathematical and statistical fields. One must also believe that the profession will be vastly different from what it is today a few decades from now. It is critical for the CAS to remain relevant and serve the needs of its members both today and as the profession evolves in the future.
There will always be areas of practice within the profession that cover the most technical to the most mundane issues. What is defined as "highly technical" will change over time. The CAS must remain relevant to the needs of all its members, and continue to provide opportunities for exposure to new tools that can prove useful in estimating the cost of future contingent events.