August 2013

From the EAS Chairperson: Summertime Reflections

By Jeoff Williams

The long days of summer are upon us and that reminds me that it is healthy to slow down sometimes and reflect on where one has been and where one is going. Having grown up in the South, the clichés of sipping sweet tea on the front porch and swinging in the hammock may sound trite, but I have found that every culture has its own unique ways for relaxing and enjoying the quiet moments of life. It is during these moments that we should be thinking about who we are and how we can improve. OK, I know this sounds too corny for most, but I do want to take this time to reflect upon one of the challenges that faces the Entrepreneurial Actuaries Section.

I was reading an article by Chrissy Scivicqu titled, “How Your Weaknesses Can Make You Strong” on the Eat Your Career website in which the author comments that, “Recognizing your weakness is not the same as accepting this thing will always be your weakness. In fact, you can only improve once you know what needs to be improved. If you’re too afraid to look it in the eye, you’ll never be able to change it.”

The issue of examining our weaknesses came to light recently in a metric that was sent to the section leaders from the Society of Actuaries. As actuaries we are trained to interpret statistics and how we can measure results from those numbers. The metric that was provided was the percentage of members that were members as of Dec. 31, 2012 who had renewed in the 2013 renewal payment period. Meg Weber, Director of Section Services for the Society of Actuaries, explained this as “your ‘likability’ factor.” What a great simplistic description for this metric.

The Entrepreneurial Actuaries Sections percentage is 78 percent which is an increase from 73 percent in 2012 and 71 percent in 2011. However, it is one of the lowest of all the sections. What does this mean? What can we learn from this to improve our membership value and thus have members want to renew? How do we address the challenges we face as a section and the uniqueness of our membership? Our membership is not topic-specific or focused on one well-defined group, but instead we serve a membership that is very diverse. Many face budget constraints and limited staff support since they may be sole practitioners. So, how do they meet their continuing education needs? Others may be exploring nontraditional actuarial roles in which there are no professional guidelines. So, how do they market their credentials without jeopardizing the professional responsibilities?

I bring this weakness to light because I want to let our members know we are listening. The council section is looking into ways we can provide educational opportunities in a format more conducive to our members. We are working on two webinars this fall focused on professionalism for actuaries in nontraditional roles and technology tools for the entrepreneurial actuary. The council is discussing alternative means for delivering continuing education for our members. We continue to communicate through LinkedIn in order to keep our members up-to-date on valuable entrepreneurial articles and information. But we can always do a better job. I would love to see our “likability” factor top 80 percent next year and continue the trend of the last several years.

To do that we need to continue to utilize our strengths and recognize and improve our weaknesses.

In order to accomplish that, I encourage our members to provide feedback to me and any of our council section members. We welcome your comments both positive and negative.

This is a great time of the year to take that moment and reflect on what we can do to be a better section for our members. So while you are relaxing on the beach, driving the family to the summer vacation or chilling by the pool, think about what you would like to see the Entrepreneurial Actuaries Section do to give you greater member satisfaction.

As always, please visit our webpage for ongoing activities and information.

Joeff Williams, FSA, MAAA, is a Consulting Actuary with Actuarial Management Resources, Inc. in Winston-Salem, N.C. and current Chair of the Entrepreneurial Actuaries Section. He may be reached at