Expanding Research Projects in New Ways

Q&A with R. Dale Hall
Visit SOA.org/Research for the latest updates on new research opportunities, data requests, experience studies and completed research projects.

Managing director of Research at the Society of Actuaries (SOA), R. Dale Hall, discusses a variety of projects that stretch beyond traditional research papers and experience studies to advance the profession and serve the public.

What is the Living to 100 Symposium?

Hall: We have hosted the SOA Living to 100 Symposium every three years since 2002. It is a unique event that emphasizes research, and it brings together academics, researchers, actuaries and many others to discuss aging, living longer, mortality improvement and related studies. There’s a wealth of papers from our past events, and I encourage you to check out these collections.

We’re gearing up for the 2020 SOA Living to 100 Symposium, which will take place January 13–15 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. At this event, we will have keynote presentations on the modeling of aging, retirement security and the impact of longevity, and the biology of aging. As a follow-up to this triennial event, we’ll develop a monograph highlighting the key discussions, helping to add to the continuing body of research on longevity and aging.

Research Reads

Innovation and Technology

This spring, the SOA launched its Actuarial Innovation & Technology Strategic Research Program, which focuses on research involving the use of new technology and the actuarial profession. One of the new reports highlights technologies whose usage is anticipated to grow the fastest among actuaries in 2019. Data visualization, predictive modeling, cloud computing and storage, and collaborative tools are expected to be used more in the coming year.

Survey of Emerging Risks

The Joint Risk Management Section of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA), Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the SOA released the 12th Annual Survey of Emerging Risks. Major findings include growing climate concerns and cybersecurity.

Can you tell us about the contest involving innovations for living longer?

Hall: Last year, the SOA’s Mortality and Longevity Research Program Steering Committee created the Workable Innovations for Living Longer (WILL) Contest. It highlights new ideas to help people extend their healthy life expectancy, such as through physical activity, social interactions or other means. For instance, Nate Worrell, FSA, MAAA, received first place in 2018 for his idea to create a longevity assistant—a potential tool to help people track their physical activity and take positive steps toward healthier decisions.

Now in its second year, the WILL contest emphasizes new ways to help society in terms of living longer and how actuaries can be a part of this innovation and thought leadership. Individuals can submit their ideas either by video or written submission, and then the top five entries will pitch their ideas to a panel of actuaries during the 2019 SOA Annual Meeting & Exhibit. Stay tuned for updates on the ideas generated from this contest.

How are you working with students on research projects?

Hall: We created the SOA Student Research Case Study Challenge as a way for actuarial students from colleges and universities around the world to develop their research skills. We ask them to work together in teams to harness data, use models and create a solution to a hypothetical situation. For this year’s challenge, there were 63 teams, and each team designed an autonomous vehicle insurance policy and performed actuarial projections of future loss costs. I found it very encouraging to see all of these future actuaries sharing their ideas and, in turn, meeting with SOA members to get a better sense of the actuarial community.

Students from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, received first place (and a $5,000 grant) for their entry idea. Their project focused on a variety of new policyholder behaviors, cybersecurity risks and changes in vehicle-miles exposures that would emerge with the implementation of autonomous vehicles.

What other projects and tools have been developed through SOA research?

Hall: In addition to our research papers, experience studies, essays and presentations, the SOA works on a variety of calculators, including the Actuaries Longevity Illustrator, which is a tool developed with the American Academy of Actuaries. This tool helps provide individuals and personal finance experts with a better sense of survival distributions and longevity as they plan for retirement expenses and risks.

In addition to projects and tools developed through research, the SOA also offers opportunities for recognition and awards for academic research.

R. Dale Hall, FSA, CERA, MAAA, CFA, is managing director of research at the Society of Actuaries.

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