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Education

General Insurance Fellowship Track

Preliminary curriculum information on the new general insurance track available.

Society of Actuaries to Offer General Insurance Fellowship Track;
New Pathway to Help Fulfill Strategic Vision of Global Actuarial Education Leadership

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) will begin offering an exam track in general (property-casualty) insurance in 2013, ensuring that the SOA is providing options covering all actuarial disciplines to earning the Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA) designation.

The SOA Board of Directors at its March 2012 meeting approved the creation of the new track after determining that including general insurance education will help fulfill the strategic vision for the SOA as a leading global provider of actuarial education.

"Currently, the SOA is the only broad-based actuarial education organization with a significant international presence that does not offer education in the full range of practice areas," said Bradley M. Smith, SOA president. "For the SOA to meet the needs of our growing member and candidate base outside the United States and Canada, we must offer this educational option," Smith added, "We're very excited to take this step and believe it will provide tremendous benefits to our candidates, members and their employers."

Smith said the addition of a general insurance track will be attractive to candidates and employers. "Today's economy is increasingly global and complex, and many organizations that actuaries work for or provide consulting services to have some level of international presence," he said. "All organizations are facing risk management challenges that can cross multiple disciplines. The SOA must ensure that its educational system is equipping actuaries with the skills to address the full spectrum of risk management issues." Smith noted, "By adding this track, we're aligning our credentials and our education system with the way organizations structure their risk management operations. The employers of our candidates—insurers, consulting firms, and others—manage the complete spectrum of risks, and the SOA will now give them a single, global source for the full range of actuarial talent and credentials they need."

Tonya B. Manning, SOA president-elect, noted that for the track to be successful, members earning an FSA must be recognized as qualified to practice in the general insurance area by the appropriate national bodies, and the SOA will work with these bodies to ensure that end. "Given the SOA's recognized, high-quality actuarial education and examination capabilities, I am confident we will create a world-class general insurance track," Manning said.

The SOA currently offers five tracks to fellowship in: Individual Life and Annuities; Retirement Benefits; Group and Health; Investment; and, Finance / Enterprise Risk Management. Smith said the general insurance field has been growing for many years, and that growth is anticipated to continue. "In many developing economies, general insurance often grows earlier and faster than other business lines. As the world's largest actuarial professional organization, we need to offer our candidates the training and credentials needed to serve these markets."

Manning said that the SOA broadening its range of practice areas will benefit actuarial candidates by allowing them more time to make a specialty track decision. It will also provide them opportunities to learn about all practice areas, which will make them more well-rounded in the eyes of potential employers. It also gives candidates the opportunity to pursue their educational pathway through a single society, regardless of the actuarial specialty they choose.

Additionally, having a focus on general insurance topics will strengthen the skill sets of all SOA members. "As actuaries, we have to understand that markets for our services are constantly changing. We can't depend on maintaining the status quo—we have to seek out new skills, new areas of practice, and new industries to serve and we have to be willing to move into areas where we haven't been before," Manning added.

The first of the general insurance track-specific exams and e-learning modules is expected to be made available to candidates beginning with the fall 2013 exams. The SOA will be hiring an actuary with expertise in general insurance and forming volunteer committees to be involved in the development of the curriculum and exams.

Smith noted that the SOA and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), which also provides general insurance education, have "a long history of working together on a variety of joint activities. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the CAS in the future," Smith said.

Actuaries interested in working on the development of the curriculum and syllabus for the general insurance track are invited to contact Stuart Klugman, FSA, staff fellow-Education, at sklugman@soa.org.

The SOA is interested in hearing your thoughts about the development of a general insurance track. Please send any comments to membercomms@soa.org. Over the coming months, you will see updates as the general insurance track is developed, and we will also regularly add to a Q&A section on the SOA website to provide updated information.