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General Insurance Fellowship Track

April 2, 2012

Dear SOA Member:

As you know, the SOA Board of Directors in March approved the creation of an educational track in general (property-casualty) insurance. The Board's decision is in keeping with the SOA's strategic vision to remain a leading global provider of broad-based actuarial education. The SOA is currently the only actuarial education organization with a significant international presence that does not offer education in the full range of practice areas. This puts us at a competitive disadvantage with other actuarial organizations trying to attract new candidates. The Board took this action following a lengthy period of review and discussion by the Education Executive Group, which is the volunteer committee of the SOA responsible for recommending educational policy to the Board.

During the past few weeks, the SOA has laid further groundwork for the development of the general insurance education track. We are well along in forming the team that will develop the curriculum, and we are very pleased with the breadth of experience and expertise of the actuaries who have expressed both interest and willingness to work on this project.

When we announced this educational initiative, we asked for your comments and questions. About 40 SOA members, candidates and others wrote to us at membercomms@soa.org. Many of them support the move. Others questioned the strategic need for the SOA to offer a general insurance track. Others expressed concern about the costs associated with the new track and whether the SOA had the resources to create it.

The investment required to develop the curriculum and administer the exams is manageable. There are a number of one-time and annual expenses, but our conservative estimates show the track will pay for both its development costs and operating expenses by 2017.

While there certainly are many critical steps that must be completed before the first exam is administered in 2013, developing top-notch tracks and providing world-class actuarial education is the very foundation of the SOA's mission. It's what we do, and we do it extremely well. We have every expectation that development of this track will be a success.

We are aware that some members have expressed concern that developing the general insurance track may be linked to a proposal to consolidate the U.S.-based actuarial organizations. In fact, the SOA's International Strategy Taskforce and then the Education Executive Group began consideration of a general insurance track well before I raised the possibility of consolidation. Several months before the SOA Board addressed this issue, I met personally with leaders of the Casualty Actuarial Society and informed them that the SOA's strategy required it to offer a general insurance track. The SOA's need for a general insurance track was a primary motivation for consolidation, as I stated in my address at the annual meeting. On several occasions since my remarks, the CAS has reiterated its strong desire to remain independent. Nevertheless, I am glad to say that our longstanding collaborative relationship with the CAS remains strong, as we continue to work on a number of projects of common interest.

You can read more about the general insurance track in the upcoming issue of The Actuary. I hope you will join Tonya Manning, SOA President-Elect, and me on the April 12 interactive discussion. We'll be discussing the general insurance track and other important issues. And, as always, please feel free to write to us at membercomms@soa.org with any questions, comments or concerns. Thank you for your interest and support.

Sincerely,

Bradley M. Smith, FSA, MAAA
President, Society of Actuaries