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A United Profession Makes Sense

by Clive L. Keatinge

In this article, I argue for creation of a new actuarial organization to replace both the CAS and SOA. Under my proposal, each practice area, including casualty, would have a separate internal governance board. Such a structure has worked well in the United Kingdom and Australia to protect the interests of casualty actuaries. The idea is not new, but I believe the time has come to examine the issue once again. My proposal would not greatly change the lives of CAS members. Still, there are several reasons why I believe such a change is the right move today.

Under the current organizational structure, there is little opportunity for interaction between actuaries from the casualty practice area and other practice areas. In a combined organization, perhaps one meeting per year would encompass all practice areas. Other meetings and seminars would focus predominantly on a specific practice area, but would probably be attended by actuaries from all of them. Such a plan would maintain the current character of most meetings and seminars, yet allow for regular interaction among actuaries from different practice areas. With the continuing evolution of financial services, such interaction is likely to be increasingly important in the future.

The current basic education systems of the CAS and SOA are not as well coordinated as they could be. For example, there is no fundamental justification for the CAS to test investment topics separately from the SOA. Cooperation would also have been useful during development of the SOA's innovative Course 7 modeling seminar. A combined organization could easily have designed the seminar to replace an exam in the education of all actuarial candidates. In a combined organization, any differences in educational requirements would exist because of the practice areas' different needs- not because of organizational inertia or extraneous disagreements. A fully coordinated education system would provide maximum career flexibility and conserve educational resources.

Several years ago, the SOA invited the CAS to cosponsor the North American Actuarial Journal. The CAS declined because it viewed this journal as a threat to the Proceedings. As a result, most CAS members pay little attention to the North American Actuarial Journal, and the Proceedings receives little attention outside the CAS. This situation is unfortunate, since both journals contain articles of interest to both CAS and non-CAS members. In a combined organization, we could restructure our refereed journals to expose articles to all readers who might have an interest in them, regardless of practice area.

In this era of globalization, international relations are more important than ever before. Joint ventures with foreign actuarial organizations in basic education are likely to emerge, and joint ventures in continuing education are likely to become more common. In a combined organization, relations with foreign organizations would be easier, since no other country has a separate organization for casualty actuaries.

Finally, obvious administrative savings would accrue from combining the CAS and SOA into one organization. The new organization could consolidate operations, and volunteers would not have to spend precious time coordinating the activities of two different organizations.

I suggest that the CAS Board of Directors and SOA Board of Governors jointly appoint a blue-ribbon panel consisting of an equal number of former CAS and SOA presidents. The two organizations would charge the panel with proposing a governance structure for a new organization. The panel could consult with whomever it wished in its effort to find a solution acceptable to both CAS and SOA members.

Over its long history, the CAS has served its members very well. However, the organization must now consider the question of what makes sense for the future. I believe a united actuarial profession in the United States and Canada would best serve the needs of all actuaries as we move forward into the twenty-first century. The SOA's new president, W. James MacGinnitie, is a former CAS president. What better time than now to begin work on this bold initiative? I invite your comments.