Technology Section Update

Continuing to provide a valuable community for actuaries Paul Ramirez

The goal of the Society of Actuaries’ (SOA’s) Technology Section is to “promote the exchange of information concerning technology as it relates to the work of actuaries” as well as “facilitating the adoption of new technology,” as its mission statement reads.

The role technology plays in the actuarial career is at an inflection point; the pace at which technological changes and developments are occurring seems to be increasing every year. Predictive analytics is driving much of this change. R and Python increasingly are being used by actuaries. Actuaries are starting to work with Hadoop, Pig and Hive. Cloud computing is becoming more and more prevalent, while artificial intelligence and automation are affecting all areas of insurance. FinTech and InsurTech companies are emerging and providing new competitive threats to insurance companies and actuaries.

While some actuaries may be familiar with these technologies, many are probably completely unfamiliar with them. In order to help fill in these gaps, the Technology Section sponsored a call for essays on cutting-edge technology. The submission deadline has passed, but we plan on publishing the submitted essays in early 2018.

Another initiative of the Technology Section for 2017 is to revamp both the Tools for Actuaries and Apps for Actuaries landing pages. These websites have been around for a number of years, but they are lightly trafficked. In the short run, we are working with the SOA to broaden the set of tools and apps that can be listed on these sites. We hope that, in the future, actuaries will be using these sites to share any tools they find valuable, including R scripts, Python scripts, Excel tools, VBA scripts and so much more. We will be hosting a contest later this year to award a cash prize to the actuary who suggests the best technology tool/apps to upload. See the Technology Section homepage for more details. In the long run, the Technology Section is partnering with the SOA to provide a tool repository that can provide capabilities such as rating, commenting and revision-tracking.

Earlier this year, our section council held our first in-person meeting. It was well-attended by the council and was instrumental in setting our direction for the upcoming year. Among the topics we discussed was how to better serve our section members.

We are committed to continuing to deliver value to our membership through our well-received newsletter and webcasts. In response to feedback from section members, we switched formats from an electronic newsletter to a paper newsletter, as well as reducing its frequency from quarterly to semiannually. Our webcasts in the last few years have been very well-attended, and we are focused on delivering diverse topics that are of value to actuaries in the upcoming years.

Feedback on these recent changes has been positive, and we continue to welcome more constructive comments from our audience. Technology does not stand still; nor does our section, as we continue to strive to provide value to members.

If you are not a member of the Technology Section, I encourage you to join. Technology is a critical part of our jobs as actuaries, and its importance will only grow in the future. If you are interested in volunteering, there are a number of ways to get involved: You can write an article, join as a friend of the section or run for a section council position. The Technology Section is a great community of actuaries—don’t miss out!


Paul Ramirez, FSA, MAAA, is a vice president and actuary for Actuarial Finance and Data Analytics at Allstate Benefits.