November 2013

From The Editor

By Carlos Fuentes

It is already November and the end of 2013 is around the corner—for many of us, the year, once again, has slipped through our fingers. Year-end came even faster for The Entrepreneurial Actuaries Section (EAS) and Joeff Williams will step down after successfully completing his tenure as the section’s chairperson. If you read Joeff's editorials throughout the year you’ll notice recurrent themes, almost guiding principles, which have allowed our section to remain relevant to entrepreneurially-minded actuaries. The following individuals will carry-over Joeff’s legacy into 2014: Nick Ortner (chairperson), Nicole Fende (vice chairperson), Shasha Huang, Stephen James, Derek Kueker, Carlos Fuentes, Abednigo Sibanda, Thomas Totten and Joeff Williams himself.

We are proud to say that in the EAS anybody who wants to contribute will find not only an opportunity to do so, but also support and a friendly environment. If you want to give back to the profession, if you have something to say to other actuaries, if you want to enlarge your circle of connections, this might be the place for you. You determine the level of involvement, which ranges from becoming a council member, writing articles, becoming a guest speaker, voicing your views on specific subjects, dropping a note here and there with suggestions, or simply taking advantage of the resources that the section offers. Feel free to reach out to any of us, especially if you want to share your New Year resolutions, including those that date back to the time when you were studying to pass the exams.

In our final 2014 issue of The Independent Consultant we cover the following topics:

  • Annual Meeting Sessions Highlights―The Entrepreneurial Section of the SOA sponsored two sessions in the October Annual Meeting that took place in San Diego: Women and Minorities in Entrepreneurship, and The Tools, Technology, Trials and Tribulations of Managing from Afar. The topics were timely not only to entrepreneurs but also to business-minded participants. The speakers, who are experts in their fields, were direct, engaging and willing to share their expertise with the audience: Alyson Francisco, the Kimbrough Professor of Business and Economics, and director of the Center for Women in Business at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC; Stephen Galvan principal and owner of Galvan & Associates; Jenna Fariss, consulting actuary with Actuarial Management Resources; Andrew Chan actuarial system consultant with ALG; Paul Ramirez senior actuarial associate with Allstate Benefits. Nick Ortner summarized the presentations.
  • Female Clients―Much has been written about women and diversity in the workforce for a variety of reasons ranging from social justice to business performance. For example, the September issue of the Harvard Business Review includes four articles related to women in positions of leadership, including How Women Decide. In her article, Tips for Working with Your Female Clients, Kathleen Burns Kingsbury approaches the subject from a different angle: she describes how one can better communicate with female clients and executives. Do you think that certain traits that are associated with male and female behaviors are part of our genetic makeup, the effect of long standing social conventions, or both? Do you think that being attuned to how we deal with males and females is an important managerial skill or you feel that some people may see this approach as sexist? Is there a role for Emotional Intelligence in how we interact with clients? If you have thought about the subject we would like to hear from you.
  • Who is an Entrepreneur?―Misconceptions about entrepreneurs abound, just as do conceptions about leadership. Many people think that anybody who is in charge of a team is a leader, although we know by experience that this is often not the case. Likewise, it is quite common to hear that entrepreneurs are those who run their own business. While there is some truth to these ideas, reality is more complex, as Kevin Pledge explains. You can run your own business, but that doesn’t make you an entrepreneur—as a matter of fact, some businesses are not well suited for entrepreneurial mentalities. Conversely, being an employee doesn’t preclude you from being an entrepreneur. How can this be? The key is, according to Kevin, how you approach and manage your job. Do you agree with this idea? (Granted, you need to read the article …) Do you think the profession encourages or discourages entrepreneurship? Do you feel you have the opportunity to take initiatives in your current position? If not, what do you think you can do to change the game? Is entrepreneurship valued in the workplace?
  • Negotiating Requests―As he always does, Jay Vogt offers practical advice to become a more efficient team player, a better manager, and a well rounded consultant. Can you think of instances when you delivered an excellent product that didn’t fully address the needs of your fellow workers because, as you found out later, the request was unclear or misunderstood? What about times when everybody understood the request but you knew it would be impossible to fulfill, yet you committed to it because you didn’t want to be seen as a weak player? We would like to hear from those that have real world experience, as Jay does.

Are there ideas in this issue that resonate with you? Do you have questions for the authors? Is there a topic that you would like to discuss? Can you remember advice that proved valuable in your career? Are there any “truths” that held you back in your career? What are your views about the future of the actuarial profession? How can we help shape that future? Is there anything you believe every actuary should know but many don’t? What can the section do to be more relevant to your career? We would like to hear from you.Carlos Fuentes, FSA, MAAA, FCA, MBA, MS, is vice president at Aon Hewitt. He may be reached at