Expanding Opportunities, Mining Actuaries’ Skills

The SOA works to find new ways to support membership James M. Glickman

Photograph: Hyon Smith

More than 30 years ago, I took on a nontraditional actuarial role when my wife and I formed and capitalized a long-term care (LTC) reinsurance company. LTC was a relatively new product line at the time, so investing all of our accumulated savings could only be described as “risk is opportunity.”

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) works to find new ways to support membership in expanding their skills and advancing our future as a profession. I have frequently mentioned one of my biggest priorities, which is to expand employment opportunities. This concept is a key part of the SOA Board’s long-term strategy. The SOA Board’s Cultivate Opportunities Team (COT) has been working to identify ways the SOA can:

  • Enhance actuaries’ business skills to increase C-suite job opportunities.
  • Promote the value of actuarial skills for jobs in nontraditional industries.
  • Provide the tools for actuaries to be prepared to take on these new roles.

In my letter in the February/March 2019 issue of The Actuary, I discussed the indispensable value of communications skills in achieving success in these nontraditional roles, especially in creating new leadership opportunities in the C-suite.

For actuaries who have developed their communication skills, the opportunity to serve as practice specialty experts providing objective insights to the media is not only valuable to the individual doing so, but it also enhances the entire actuarial profession. Having actuaries serve as media experts also brings value to society and prestige to our profession, as our objective analyses can be very helpful to those who craft our public policy.

The SOA, through its media and research departments, continues to seek ways to highlight these actuarial skill sets, such as in recent news articles involving mortality trends, the opportunities to reduce health care costs, development of solutions to impending societal crises in our aging population (especially around the increasing need for LTC services), measuring climate change and much more. Many of these highlight SOA research projects that utilize predictive analytics capabilities and tools.

The effort to expand opportunities for actuaries can be seen on the online SOA Job Center, where predictive analytics and nontraditional job postings are available. The relatively new SOA Predictive Analytics Certificate program is another example of keeping actuaries at the forefront of evolving methods. This intensive training program utilizes both online and in-person program modules, together with self-study coursework and a final graded project assessment. We continue to develop numerous other professional development opportunities, including the seminar in advanced business analytics, the health analytics seminar and a Python boot camp. One new initiative for this year is to search for more and better ways to deliver professional development aimed at expanding actuarial skill sets in a way that increases its utilization and value to all our members.

Through our marketing and communication campaigns, we help promote the work of actuaries, especially in predictive modeling and analytics. Recent case studies on SOA.org/predictive share experiences from members who currently utilize predictive analytics in both life and health insurance. We highlight members who have achieved success in nontraditional roles in information technology (IT), human resources, marketing and other areas. The SOA podcast series “Listen at Your Own Risk” features developing fields such as InsurTech, blockchain, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence (AI).

The SOA also has sponsored Kaggle program awards that showcase innovative solutions to a variety of business applications and industries. Past Kaggle challenges have included how to prevent shipping incidents at sea through satellite imaging and how to harness machine learning for credit default risks in the financial sector, just to name a couple.

I am pleased the SOA is developing these new types of events, helping actuaries gain new skills and be at the forefront of emerging topics. Later this year, the SOA will launch its Actuarial Innovation and Technology Strategic Research Program.

The SOA continues to look for ways to enhance employers’ awareness of the skills actuaries can bring to both new and existing technologies. I encourage you to learn more about these opportunities as well as to share your success stories—how you have utilized your actuarial skills in nontraditional ways and job markets—with us.

James M. Glickman, FSA, MAAA, CLU, is president of the Society of Actuaries.

Copyright © 2019 by the Society of Actuaries, Chicago, Illinois.