In Memory of William A. Halvorson, FSA, MAAA
William A. Halvorson (Bill), FSA 1954 and MAAA 1965, passed away on September 5, 2016 in Naples, FL at 88 years of age.
Bill was an outstanding leader within the actuarial profession, and he served as president of the Society of Actuaries (SOA) in 1977-1978 and then president of the American Academy of Actuaries (the Academy) in 1981-1982.
Bill had a long and varied service commitment to the actuarial profession and was instrumental in changing much of the infrastructure of the Academy and the SOA throughout his career.
Bill was born in Menomonie, Wisconsin in 1928 and began his actuarial education, after a tour of duty in the U.S Army, at the University of Michigan and later at the University of Wisconsin, where he was a member of the first class to study under the well-known professor and author Robert Larson.
After earning his master’s degree in 1951, Bill accepted a position at New York Life where he had a variety of assignments, including consulting. In 1956, he joined Milliman to open and lead the San Francisco office, the first Milliman office outside of Seattle. He grew that office with a personal focus on pension plans, including multiemployer plans, and then health consulting.
In 1961 Bill moved again, this time to his home state of Wisconsin to open the Milwaukee office. His work at that time was focused on health consulting, and was the pioneer of Milliman’s growing health practice. The Practice Director roles in the firm were initiated in 1976, and Bill was designated as the first Practice Director for Health. Bill was an equity principal and leader of the Milwaukee practice for many years until his retirement in the mid-1980.
Starting in 1955, he began working on a committee on Fields of Activity for Actuaries. This committee’s goal was to create a balance in the actuaries’ program of education and meetings. He identified the need to develop support for investment work, and began developing programs on investment. Through this effort, the investment program was added to the old part 7 exam. He co-developed the syllabus for the first investment exam and, with a team of three other people, also graded those exams.
Shortly after he became a fellow of the SOA, he was elected to the SOA Board of Directors as the youngest member of the board, and he began asking questions.
One of the questions he had was, “Why wasn’t health a separate practice, rather than a subset of the life practice? Why weren’t there appropriate statistical analyses for health actuaries?” When he became SOA president-elect in 1977, he recommended that a committee study the feasibility of adding special interest sections within the SOA. The Committee to Investigate Special Interests ultimately led to the SOA’s current familiar structure of support for actuaries in different fields of work.
Bill suggested to the SOA Board in the early 1960s that an Actuarial Education and Research Fund be established to which actuaries could donate. The first one was established in the mid 1960’s while he was on the Executive Committee as a Vice President of the SOA.
Bill wrote and spoke around the country about the actuary’s professional responsibility to clients and to society at large. Bill was both a company actuary and a consulting actuary. When asked what the difference was in the professional responsibility of a company actuary versus a consulting actuary, he said it was the same. “To be objective, unbiased, and to provide all the alternatives. Don’t start with a biased opinion and then try to prove it, and don’t give your opinion unless it is asked.” In other words, provide the range of alternatives with risks, allowing decision makers to make informed decisions. If they want your opinion, they will ask. He has also said that the value of being objective is that you will get much more cooperation.
In 1974, the Executive Director of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) asked Bill to develop requirements for certification for actuarial opinions. In particular, there was the need to allow actuaries to certify to the reserves, what they know, rather than the entire annual statement. From this discussion began the effort to develop the valuation actuary role.
These are merely a few items that Bill was involved with during his career as an actuary and volunteer. Bill was instrumental in asking the right questions and spending time and effort to answer those questions. He worked with many individuals to accomplish these goals and deserves our thanks.
He is survived by his wife, Patricia, and children including Audrey Halvorson, FSA, MAAA.