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Random Sampler
Pressured to Change:
Four Steps Toward the Centennial Goal

Clive L. Keatinge 

Almost a year ago, the CAS Board of Directors adopted the CAS Centennial Goal, which says, "The CAS will be globally recognized as the preeminent resource in educating casualty actuaries and conducting research in casualty actuarial science. CAS members will be recognized as the leading experts in the evaluation of hazard risk and the integration of hazard risk with strategic, financial, and operational risk." By approving mutual recognition, we have taken an important first step toward that goal. However, since the target date for achieving the CCG is still a decade away, I believe it would be useful over the next couple of years to have some barometers that will measure how committed we are to achieving the CCG. In this piece, I offer four such barometers.

The first barometer is whether we are willing to cease publication of the Proceedings and adopt a new focus for our refereed publication program. The   Proceedings has served the CAS well over the years, but it does not support our pursuit of the CCG. Few actuaries outside the CAS read the Proceedings. In addition, its once yearly publication leaves it unable to keep up with the fast-moving global environment of the twenty-first century.

In place of the Proceedings, I suggest two alternatives. The first is to join with the SOA in sponsoring the North American Actuarial Journal. This would provide a forum for papers that cross practice areas, such as those that focus on enterprise risk management, the subject of the second part of the CCG. My second suggestion is to join with actuarial organizations outside North America to create a new journal that focuses on topics of interest to practicing casualty actuaries worldwide.

The second barometer is how we handle implementation of the Actuarial Control Cycle (ACC) in our basic education system. The ACC began in Australia as a way to give students a holistic view of the actuary's function, with case studies playing a prominent role. It brings together the apparently disparate elements of early actuarial education and demonstrates their application to actuarial work in a range of traditional and nontraditional fields. It deals with what is common to all practice areas and ensures that candidates have mastered the fundamental concepts and principles before they begin to specialize.

The success of the ACC has spawned similar initiatives by the SOA and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Last June, in a straw poll, the CAS Board voted 11 to 0, with 2 abstentions, to endorse the concept as well. Since the ACC applies to all practice areas, the question facing us is whether we are willing to join with other organizations to provide a more effective educational experience than we could on our own. Having a first-rate modern education system is essential if we are to achieve the prominence in North America and abroad demanded by the CCG.

The third barometer is how we handle the implementation of enterprise risk management in our basic education system. Last July, we joined with the SOA in sponsoring a highly successful seminar on the subject, and we will repeat such seminars annually. Thus we have made a commitment to cooperate with the SOA on continuing education in this area. In basic education, the SOA is moving decisively to implement an enterprise risk management track. The question facing us is whether we are willing to cooperate in that effort as well. To do otherwise would almost certainly relegate us to second-class status in the   area of enterprise risk management and would effectively doom the second part of the CCG.   

The fourth barometer is whether we are willing to change our culture to accommodate a serious debate about the future organizational structure of the actuarial profession, both in North America and around the world. If we partner with other organizations on various initiatives as we pursue the CCG, the question naturally arises as to whether the profession needs restructuring to provide effective and efficient administration and oversight.

In the past, many in CAS circles have considered the subject of restructuring politically incorrect. At the 2002 CAS Leadership Meeting, one prominent CAS member publicly belittled another for his support of restructuring. Another prominent   member has told me privately that he believes restructuring would be in the best interests of casualty actuaries, but he hesitates to be too public about his views because of what his CAS friends might think. SOA leaders are afraid to come anywhere near   the subject because they know that, no matter how well-intentioned and thoughtful their comments, some within the CAS will immediately accuse them of trying to "take over" the CAS. Restructuring is an emotional subject, but if we are to get to the CCG, we must have this debate, free of insults and demagoguery. To achieve the CAS Centennial Goal, we are going to need to take bold steps that entail significant change. But the question remains—do we have the will to move forward?

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