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Who's Who ... Demographic Data Provides a Profile of the SOA

Who's Who ... Demographic Data Provides a Profile of the SOA

Here's a bit of demographic info to help you know who your fellow SOA members are.
Sam Phillips

Who are the members of the Society of Actuaries? What sections do they belong to? Do most reside within the United States? Just what are some of the population characteristics of the more than 18,000 actuaries who belong to our organization?

Though demographic data is primarily used in economic and marketing research, the distribution of variables presented here, and the trends represented, are a means to share some information about fellow members of the SOA. With members living all around the world, a little demographic data can shrink the miles in theory, boost camaraderie and foster a stronger sense of community.

The areas covered here include section affiliation, countries represented, age FSA is attained and more.

Section Affiliation

The section with the most members as of December '06 is the Investment Section (5,186). Of those members 2,892 are FSAs, 2,284 are ASAs and 10 are non-members. This is not surprising with the breadth of investment related issues having increasing significance to actuaries in many different practice areas. Investment topics may be important to:

  • product development actuaries searching for increased yield.
  • risk managers utilizing hedging techniques.
  • financial actuaries looking at economic capital models to determine the amount of capital to support businesses.
  • reinsurance actuaries due to the convergence of capital markets and reinsurance.
  • personal actuaries working as financial advisors.
  • pension actuaries considering pension investment strategy and liability benchmarks.

The next four largest sections, in terms of number of members, are: Product Development, Pension, Financial Reporting and Health. For a complete list of sections and their number of members broken down by FSA, ASA and non-member designation, please see pdf Table 1.

The Long-Term Care Insurance section is an interesting section in that it has 751 non-members (the most among the sections) with 710 FSA and 237 ASA members. There has been a very deliberate outreach effort to add affiliate members to this group. The Long-Term Care Section is very interested in having the section represented by professionals in the long-term care industry, not just actuaries.

The Risk Management Section is another section with a large number of non-members (683). This section is the first to be jointly sponsored by the SOA, the CAS and the CIA. As a group, they look at risk management as a profession-wide opportunity. They are also encouraging perspectives outside the actuarial realm.

Member Age

It's always interesting to note the pdf ages of any organization. From the information we have on file as of May, 2006, most members fall into the 40 to 49 age category, with 3,173 FSAs and 2,392 ASAs.

This is not a surprising statistic since accreditation can be a long journey for some. The "travel time" is changing for upcoming actuaries however, as new components of the Education Redesign are introduced. (See the article, " FAP Course Making Its Mark" on page 20) As a result we may soon be seeing students acquiring their ASA and FSA credentials at an earlier age, and, therefore, we'll see higher numbers in the 20 to 29 age category.

A Growing Profession

The Society of Actuaries has enjoyed steady growth since its inception. However, the year 2000 showed a particularly notable increase over 1999 by going from 265 new ASAs by examination to 490. Every year since 2000 has had an increase in the number of ASAs by examination, with 2006 showing the most new ASAs by examination in the past seven years with 800.

The year with the largest number of new FSAs by examination in the past seven years is 2003 with 578. The year 2000 had 550 new FSAs by examination, 2006 had 504 and 2004 had 495. (See pdf Table 3)

Countries Represented

The majority of the SOA members (72 percent) live in the United States. However, many other countries are represented. In fact, there is at least one FSA or ASA in just about every country of the world. (See pdf Table 4 for details) The foreign country (not including Canada) with the most members is China (which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan) with 879.

As you can see, the SOA is a very diversified group. Members of a wide range of ages belong to a number of different sections and live all over the world. Hopefully, the information presented here will make you feel like you know your fellow members a little better.

Sam Phillips is associate editor for the Society of Actuaries.