July 2013

Notes from the Chair

By Steve Finn

Steve Finn It should come as no surprise to actuaries that the Society of Actuaries (SOA) has become much more of an international entity over the last several years. The impacts and effects of globalization can be seen in almost every facet of the SOA’s current development and strategic plan. While over 85 percent of the existing SOA membership is from the United States and Canada, over one-third of current exam candidates are from outside of North America. Half of the 10 largest exam sites over the last five years are in Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, and the SOA has a programs manager in its Hong Kong office.

The Technology Section can play a significant role in this continued worldwide growth. Unlike many of the other sections, ours is not as constrained by country-specific rules and requirements. We are able to provide and exchange information on technological issues to other actuaries across the globe, and this knowledge can be applied on a much more consistent basis. My hope for our section as we move forward is a continued effort to work with our existing international members and encourage students to consider joining the Technology Section as they become part of the SOA.

One example of this international partnership was evidenced on June 11 at the Beyond Excel Skills webinar sponsored by the Technology Section. One of the presenters for this webinar, Tim Heng, is from Australia and provided his insights, even though it was the middle of the night for him. We appreciate his efforts, as well as our other presenters (Brad Yundt and Bill Jelen) and our moderator (Rich Junker), in putting together an in-depth look at some aspects of Excel that could be used more effectively and efficiently by actuaries. The webinar was very popular, as we hit our maximum of 200 sites accessing the webinar. Unfortunately, with all of the data on the slides and the large number of users, we did experience some sound issues, as well as some challenges in downloading the slides. However, if you did initially purchase the webinar, you should receive a copy of it from the SOA without any of the audio/video issues.

I would also like to encourage all Technology Section members to vote in the upcoming SOA election in August. As of this writing, our section will have four candidates for three open positions. These four have volunteered their time to run for the council, so please review the candidates and their backgrounds, and select the ones you feel would best represent the Technology Section for the next three years.

We have another great lineup of articles in this issue of CompAct, with a wide range of topics covered, including a look back at our first sponsored chess tournament, an approach to “simplified” modeling, and a way to determine the day of the week for any date in history, after the adoption of the Gregorian calendar! (The Gregorian calendar was established in 1582, though not adopted by England (and the American colonies) until 1752.) As always, we encourage you to contribute an article to CompAct if you have thoughts to share with the rest of the Technology Section. We welcome your input.

Steve Finn, FSA, MAAA, is a senior staff actuary at Ameriprise Financial in Minneapolis, Minn. He can be contacted at steve.j.finn@ampf.com.