May 2019

From the Editor

By Carlos Fuentes

It is not easy to be a good writer. It is not easy to be a good thinker. The probability of being both is smaller than the product of each—in fact, much smaller. Why not, then, spend time learning from those who are excellent writers and first-rate thinkers, like Henry David Thoreau?

We can also learn from our own experiences. We can devote time and energy to an area of interest and gain practical knowledge. This is what happened to David Ricardo, an amateur economist who became one of the greatest economists. What would the result be of combining a broad intellectual curiosity with the specialized knowledge of the actuarial field?

Yes, the actuarial field—unknown to many but one that has gained praised and recognition. It has changed, for sure. Gone are the days when employers fought to hire actuaries, even actuarial students, offering not only good salaries but also sponsorship to live in the U.S. How did this happen, and what can be done to remain relevant in the profession?

If you want to learn more, read the following:

  1. “What Entrepreneurial Actuaries Can Learn from Henry David Thoreau.” Born in July 1817 in Concord, Mass., Thoreau became famous for his book Walden, in which he reflects on the benefits of simple living and a connection with nature. His books and the manner in which he conducted his life are a source of inspiration. But can he teach us anything about entrepreneurship? Yes. According to Ken Lizotte, Thoreau is relevant to those who want to create and are willing to risk failure.
  2. “Interview with Shiraz Jetha.” Shiraz has worked in four countries in different actuarial roles that range from independent consultant to regulator. In this short article, he shares his views about working with diverse teams, his interests in economics, and how the actuarial profession could play a bigger role in solving important social problems. Shiraz believes that actuaries can become important players in public policymaking if they manage to combine their analytic abilities with the broad view afforded by other disciplines.
  3. “Interview with Dave Spencer.” Dave has been a recruiter for 36 years. In this interview, he tells us how the profession has changed and what has remained the same. You’ll find interesting facts and practical advice, whether you are looking for a new position or trying to find the best candidates for an actuarial role.


Carlos Fuentes, FSA, MAAA, is president at Axiom Actuarial Consulting. He can be reached at