October 2016

51st Annual Actuarial Research Conference

By Laurie Derechin

The 51st annual Actuarial Research Conference (ARC) took place July 27–30, 2016 and marked the first time in the 51 years of the conference that two universities—the University of Minnesota (UMN) and the University of St. Thomas (UST)—cooperated in planning and hosting the event. That focus on collaboration dovetailed with the underlying theme of the conference, “Strengthening Industry and Academic Collaboration.” In addition to academics, the 51st ARC Organizing Committee included industry practitioners from local and national firms who helped create and carry out the vision for the conference. The involvement between practitioners, academics, UMN, and UST increased industry involvement in the conference—both with sponsorships and participant presentations.

Over the course of the welcome reception and the two and a half day conference, about 280 academics, students and practitioners attended some or all of the conference. The generous sponsorships from local and national companies, associations, UMN and UST created an environment where employees of those organizations were able to participate in the conference.

Three keynote speakers— Dr. Jay Olshansky, Dr. Lysa Porth and Dr. Jon Christianson—covered themes that practitioners and academics from the organizing committee said they wanted to hear about:

Longevity’s Impact on Insurance & Public Policy

Climate Change and Insurance Risk

Current Trends in Health Care

In addition to the keynote lectures, invited panels & sessions with a mix of academics and practitioners delved deeper into each keynote topic, including invited panels on the Future of Life/Retirement Insurance and  Agricultural Risk and Climate Change , and two health care sessions on Value Based Care Payment Options and Breakthrough Medical Trends & Technology.

Other invited panels covered topics of great interest to academics and practitioners: two invited sessions on Data Analytics, Updates on Education and Research from the SOA, CIA, CAS and IFoA, an invited session on Innovations in Actuarial Education and one on Modeling Efficiency for Life/Retirement, just to name a few.

The 51st ARC Scientific Committee received 100 papers in response to a Call for Papers and all were presented in either a breakout track or in the Friday afternoon Poster Session. Many attendees were at the special discussion on diversity led by CAS President Elect, Nancy Braithwaite and Barry McKeown, a longtime member of the Joint CAS/SOA Committee on Career Encouragement and Actuarial Diversity.

Conference social events gave attendees plenty of time to see old friends and colleagues and meet new ones while experiencing some signature places in the Twin Cities. The 51stARC was fortunate to be able to house the conference at the award-winning McNamara Alumni Center on the east bank of the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus. McNamara’s design is inspired by the Minnesota landscape: wood, water and copper. The main hall was a bright and airy location for the plenary sessions and lunch time keynote speakers. All of the parallel sessions were in breakout rooms right off the main plenary hall. This was a unique opportunity that not all ARC locations can leverage and conference goers were quite pleased with the space.

Most of the slides created by the large group of presenters are up on the full program site. Videos of all the keynote lectures and invited sessions will be linked to the conference’s YouTube site shortly. A lot of learning, networking and the start of new collaborations began at the 51st ARC. Now on to Atlanta and Georgia State University to keep the process going!

Laurie Derechin is the executive director of the Minnesota Center Financial & Actuarial Mathematics in Minneapolis, Minn. She can be reached at lderechi@umn.edu.