Raising Our Profile

The American dream job is anything but dull Jason Hiquet

On Sept. 10, 2018, Bloomberg published an article titled “The New American Dream Job is Pretty Dull.” That career, as you can probably guess since you’re reading this magazine, was a career in actuarial science. I was taken aback by the headline, as I find myself doing challenging and interesting work every day, with a diverse group of high-performing and thoughtful individuals. But the more I thought about it, while I would disagree with Bloomberg’s characterization of our work, why should the author of that article think any different? If you’ve never worked in the actuarial field, all you have to go on are the stereotypes and reputation of the profession.

This issue of The Actuary is focused on the future of the actuarial profession, addressing questions such as:

  • How will actuarial work be performed, and what actually constitutes actuarial work?
  • Who will perform actuarial work, and where will it be performed?
  • How should we educate future actuaries above and beyond standard actuarial curriculum to prepare them for today’s workforce?
  • How do generational differences impact how actuaries work, and what do young actuaries expect out of their careers and the companies for which they work?
  • What does the future of the actuary look like across the globe?
  • Outside of insurance and consulting, where will actuaries work in the next five to 10 years?

In addition to these questions, I’d like to pose one designed to prevent headlines like the Bloomberg one from happening again: How do we collectively raise the profile of the actuarial profession?

I’m not talking about convincing Bloomberg that being an actuary is on par with being a movie star. But I believe that, in addition to our standard professional obligations, we have a responsibility to raise awareness of what true actuarial work entails. We must educate the public on the fact that there are tens of thousands of dynamic professionals with unmatched technical, analytical and problem-solving skills who would be a valuable asset to any organization, whether it’s insurance-related or not.

Every time a company comes to a college campus looking to recruit a data scientist without talking to the actuarial department, it’s a blow to the profession. Every time Forbes writes an article detailing that the demand for data scientists will soar 28 percent by 2020, without mentioning actuaries at all, it’s a blow to the profession. Every time a company posts a job opening for a data scientist without listing actuarial science as a relevant background/major, it’s a blow to the profession.

Even though the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) did not move forward with a potential merger, these two organizations still have a unique opportunity (and, I would argue, responsibility) to align and redefine the external-facing messages about who actuaries are and what we can do. We have an opportunity to remind the world that actuarial scientists are often just data scientists who also happen to have deep insurance industry knowledge. But they’re still data scientists!

It’s also essential that we continue to expand the technical, programming and communications skills that will allow actuaries to continue to be the analytical engine of whatever company for which they work. We have always been a profession with a thirst for knowledge and continuous curiosity, and that trait is more essential than ever.

As the articles in this issue paint in vivid detail, the who, what, where and how of actuarial work is changing, and we must be proactive in expanding opportunities for the profession. By taking the direction of the profession by the reins and raising the profile of actuaries everywhere, the next time Bloomberg goes to write about us, they’ll realize the American dream job is anything but dull.

Jason Hiquet, FSA, CERA, is DC manager, Actuarial and Insurance Solutions, at Deloitte Consulting LLP.

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