Spotlight on CAS Regional Affiliates

by Othon Hamill, CAWG Candidate Representative

Ever wish the CAS were more … local? Unless you’re living around the D.C. metropolitan area, odds are it’s a long trip to CAS headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. To help with localization, the CAS recognizes 17 Regional Affiliate organizations, each with a unique approach to serving the P&C actuarial professional in their geographic area. Although one common focus of these groups is helping credentialed members to meet their annual continuing education requirements, they’re more than a one trick pony! To get a better understanding of what the Regional Affiliates offered, particularly for university students and early career professionals, I sat down (virtually) with representatives from a handful of the Regional Affiliates and asked a few questions on behalf of Future Fellows. Responses have been edited for clarity and include the acronym of the respective Regional Affiliate.

Future Fellows: Hello! Thanks for meeting to discuss your Regional Affiliate! Many readers of Future Fellows are unfamiliar with their own local Regional Affiliates. How often do you meet, and what does your typical meeting agenda consist of?

Melissa Garrison (MAF): We meet twice a year and typically provide six hours of continuing education that span a variety of actuarial topics — ratemaking, reserving, reinsurance, views from regulators, catastrophe modeling. Really, we’re open to most topics but try to include a variety within each meeting! Every session will have at least one hour of professionalism, and we also have a brief business session to provide an update on our finances, scholarship activity and to hold elections.

Amanda Chou (CANW): We try to include 4-5 sessions of various topics. There’s a professionalism-related session, one more technical/analytics-related and the rest depends on the interests of the members and the current environment. We have also included soft skills presentations from time to time, such as how to be a good speaker.

Todd Dashoff (CAMAR): Typically, the Spring Meeting has six, one-hour-long sessions (including time for questions), a couple of breaks and then a cocktail reception so people have an opportunity to hang around and talk after a full day of meeting. During the fall we have another 10 or 15 minutes before we start where we handle some Affiliate business and hold the election of new officers before moving into our regular meeting.

FF: Have any particularly interesting or useful presentations stood out from your previous meetings?

David Reyes (SWAF): This past year Matt Moore from the Highway Loss Data Institute gave a presentation on automated driving. Apart from it being an interesting topic that feels like it’s constantly changing, I really appreciated it because I cannot wait to buy that first self-driving car!

Nicole Perilstein (CADS): One that we had recently was a presentation from an Arizona State University professor about the data underlying how real and significant climate change really is. It was quite an engaging and illuminating presentation!

FF: What value do you personally find in the Regional Affiliate meetings?

Reyes (SWAF): There’s no better place for me to talk about actuarial issues that is as convenient or affordable as the regional meetings. It really is right there for you. Regional Affiliates meet you where they are. The simple fact is, as good as technology has gotten, networking still happens in person. There’s really no substitute for getting to know other people in your area who have the same job as you. These meetings provide a really cool opportunity to learn and grow with each other.

FF: Would joining a Regional Affiliate be of use to someone still early in their career and still pursuing credentials? Why?

Perilstein (CADS): Absolutely! At my company, when evaluating potential candidates, students whose names or faces we know from meetings definitely rise to the top. If you have an opportunity to get in front of all of your future employers like that, definitely take advantage of the opportunity.

Garrison (MAF): It’s worth joining a Regional Affiliate. There’s value in meeting with other professionals outside of your company as well as seeing the broad amount of work that is being published within the industry. It’s great seeing that education and learning doesn’t stop with exams.

Reyes (SWAF): Absolutely! In fact, I think it’s even more important for someone early in their career to come! To me, being an actuary is part of being a community. Whether you work in a traditional or nontraditional role, when that passport application asks your occupation, you’re going to write actuary! As someone just starting out, you’d be surprised how willing people are to help, answer questions and generally make themselves available as you continue to just put yourself out there. It’s convenient, affordable and even if things get slow, it’s easy to just chat about the weather with other locals.

FF: Is there anything you remember of your first Regional Affiliate meeting?

Joshua Pyle (CABA): How tight-knit the community was! Everyone knew everyone and enjoyed meeting each other after half a year. The actuarial world is very small, and it shows quickly!

Laurence Verheye (OCCA): The first OCCA event I attended was the 2019 OCCA Spring Conference. I moved from Belgium to Canada in 2018, and it was the first time I realized how large the actuarial profession really is in Ontario. I met a ton of new people and a lot of them I still consider friends today.

FF: What made you want to serve as an officer in your Regional Affiliate?

Naheed Jaffer (OCCA): It began at the first meeting! I was very new to my career and was very impressed by the president at the time. I remember being impressed with their command of industry topics and their ability to coordinate a very engaging meeting. At that meeting, I quietly resolved to myself that I would get involved at a later stage in my career when I felt I could contribute in the same way.

FF: Do you have any advice for early career candidates?

Garrison (MAF): Ask questions and be curious! There’s more than one way to approach a problem, so don’t just follow a process.

Perilstein (CADS):  Definitely go to the Regional Affiliate meetings, but don’t just sit there and be a wallflower. Work up the nerve to talk to someone because someone knowing your face and name could help you get your foot in the door as a future candidate! Take full advantage of the great opportunity.

Pyle (CABA): I’ll give the same advice my mentor gave me during my first internship: Try everything once and get a sense of what specific job function you particularly enjoy, rather than digging deeply into a single function (i.e., reserving) and pigeonholing yourself down the road.

Jaffer (OCCA): Never say no when someone offers you or asks you to take on a new opportunity.

I attended my own first, in-person, local Regional Affiliate meeting with the CANW this past month, and I can agree with all the representatives I chatted with. CAS regional meetings are full of opportunities even for university students and early career professionals!

To find your own Regional Affiliate to attend later this fall, check out the CAS listing.