Chairperson's Corner

Chairperson's Corner

Juliet Sandrowicz

by Juliet Sandrowicz

A Look ahead in 2007

I am privileged to have been given the opportunity to lead the Marketing and Distribution (MAD) Section Council as Chair for 2007. Serving on the section council is a very rewarding experience, and I enjoy working with energetic volunteers – council members, friends of the council, and SOA staff. It is through the enthusiasm of dedicated volunteers that all the activities of this section are accomplished.

I would like to thank Van Beach, the outgoing chairperson, for his outstanding leadership over the past year. Van did a lot for our section and will continue on the council for another year. Also, a special thanks to Ian Duncan, Rob Stone, and Jeanne Daharsh who rotated off our council after three years of service. However, these three are not going away. We will continue to benefit from their commitment and contributions into 2007.

We welcome the new members of our section council – Nancy Manning (former council member and newsletter editor who was re–elected in 2006) has enthusiastically taken–up the responsibility to again be newsletter editor, and Keith Dall and Jim Wiseman who both bring vast experience and new ideas to our council. We also welcome back our other members who continue to give of their time and energy: Steve Konnath (Vice Chair), Len Mangini, Rodney Hill, and Tom Huber.

Key Issues and Objectives

The strategic direction of the Marketing and Distribution Section Council, beginning with our name change and expanded focus is to raise awareness of the section and participate more fully in cross–sectional initiatives. To this end, we have begun four key initiatives in 2006 that we will continue in 2007. These are:

  1. Product Development Process Survey – The first of hopefully many cross sectional initiatives to lead us in the mainstream direction. We created a task force, lead by Jeanne Daharsh, to conduct phone interviews with several companies this past summer and fall. The idea is to gather information about the product development process(es) at different companies from actuaries and non–actuaries who are heavily involved in the process. Our definition of product development is the process of taking a product from the idea phase to being ready to issue the first policy.Our goal is to identify the following:
    1. What we have learned about the process(es).
    2. What roles are involved in the process.
    3. The issues that need to be dealt with in bringing products to market.
    4. Potential bottlenecks (and possible solutions).
    5. Industry best practices for product development.
    We would like to pinpoint emerging issues and challenges (and their solutions). The end goal is to report the results at the 2007 product development symposium and have a summary report available for all actuaries.
  2. Archive Project – Steve Konnath will continue to work with the SOA staff to make available all articles published in 'NewsDirect' over the past five years plus a few selected articles written prior. The goal is to make it easy for all actuaries to search and find articles of current interest. In addition to the archive project, beginning with May 2006, we are successfully publishing 'NewsDirect' in an unbundled format to easily archive and access all future articles.
  3. Professional Community – The Marketing and Distribution Section hopes to lead the charge in keeping many marketing topics pushed to the fore in addition to historically nontraditional and niche topics. To undertake and cover such a broad range of topics, we have started a list of Marketing and Distribution subject matter experts to serve as speakers, provide recommendations for speakers, and submit articles related to our expended focus. We have contacted and received agreement from 12–20 individuals to be "on the bench" in this capacity. If you would like to join our expert community and/or participate by submitting suggestions, a newsletter article, or speak at one of our sessions, please contact Van Beach or anyone on the council.
  4. Expand our Membership – The Council feels that actuaries need to be aware of and be involved in the marketing side of the business as marketing functions have taken an increasing role in the industry. Continuing our membership campaign into 2007, we plan to target new members (new ASA's, FSA's and also other section members such as Product Development), and create relationships with external marketing organizations that may not currently recognize that our mission and focus overlaps with their mission.

The council continues to provide value to section members through the newsletter, Web site, and offering sessions at the annual and spring meetings. We will continue to offer distribution related topics, but we need to step–up and increase the educational opportunities in marketing related topics and cross–sectional activities. We are looking forward to a challenging year in 2007 as we seek to advance the mission of our section. The dynamic energy of the section council members, the strategic action teams, the SOA staff and our team of 'experts' will enable us to succeed.