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AR Readers Give Newsletter "Thumbs Up"

On the whole, Actuarial Review readers are pleased with content of the newsletter, according to the results of a readership survey conducted earlier this year. AR readers gave the newsletter high marks for format and timeliness and a majority of readers said they would change "very little" or "nothing" about the newsletter. In questionnaire comments, several respondents described the newsletter as "casual and informal" with articles that are "timely, concise and clearly written."

The AR Editors and the CAS Staff Editor developed the questionnaire to determine readers' opinions about the current mix of news and features in the newsletter. Approximately 7,500 copies were mailed with the February 1997 issue of the AR. The questionnaires were sent to all CAS Fellows, Associates, Academic Correspondents, Invitational Program Subscribers, International Exchange Program members, and Candidates who had registered for an examination within the past two years. As of April 16, 1997, the CAS Office had received 286 (4.0 percent of the total mailed) responses; all were included in the final analysis.

The respondents represented the overall make up of CAS members. Of all respondents, nearly half reported that they worked for property/liability insurance companies, a percentage consistent with the total CAS membership. Almost nine in ten were located in the United States. Of the remaining 10 percent, about 5 percent reside in Canada and about 5 percent live outside North America. More than one-third of all respondents were Fellows for more than 10 years, while almost a quarter were Fellows for less than 10 years.

In the survey, respondents were asked to rank the newsletter's regular features by citing how often they read them. The front page story topped the list of newsletter features read most often with almost nine out of ten reporting that they usually read it. "From the Readers" was the second most popular with one-third reporting that they always read the feature. "From the President," "Editorial," and "Actuarial Sightings" rounded out the top five most popular features. Two-thirds reported that they read "all" or "most" of the AR.

Survey respondents were pleased with the newsletter's general content, and in the survey's comment section they offered suggestions for articles. More than nine in ten respondents reported that they liked the newsletter's occasional articles on topics such as Proposition 103, loss reserve opinions, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Respondents commented that they liked to read "updates on what people are doing" and to see "news and pictures about Ôthe CAS family.'" Readers were also very interested in learning about current issues, such as reserve opinion requirements, and DFA and ABCD topics, as well "public exposure" of actuaries and future plans for the actuarial profession.

Not all respondents were completely satisfied with the state of the newsletter, however. Some readers complained that the same contributors were used issue after issue. "Volunteering to work on the AR is a great way to remedy this complaint," said Walt Wright, AR managing editor. "A major challenge has been to recruit new volunteers to submit articles," Wright continued. AR editors have contacted respondents who had indicated that they were interested in working on the newsletter. Any member who is interested in writing an occasional article or book review, submitting cartoons, or contributing to "Brainstorms" should contact the CAS Office at (703) 276-3100.

In addition to increasing volunteer involvement, the AR staff is working to incorporate some of the survey's suggestions into future issues of the AR. "We are always open to new ways to improve the content and design of the newsletter," said Wright. "The Actuarial Review is for the members and by the members," said Wright. "The AR staff is committed to providing what our readers want."

For more information on becoming an AR contributor, contact the CAS Office at (703) 276-3100 or send an email to office@casact.org