February 2014

From The Editors

By Carlos Fuentes and Stephen James

ind-con-stephen-james In this issue of the Independent Consultant, chairperson Nick Ortner describes the Section's annual plans which include development of social media presence, sponsoring meetings, webinars, workshops, and more. Nick also invites everybody who has an entrepreneurial spirit to become part of our group in any capacity―you'll create new friends, develop contacts, and give back to the profession by developing tools that can benefit actuaries.

We start 2014 with the following interesting articles:

  • New Year's Evolution―Patrick Chaaya describes an initiative undertaken by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in the United Kingdom to analyze the opportunities for actuaries outside of the traditional areas of practice. United Kingdom actuaries hope to gain insights into the skills and training that could help actuaries compete in new areas with other professionals―a battle in which we have not been successful in the United States. Patrick notes that CFAs and MBAs enjoy name recognition which to some extent accounts for their success. More to come on the subject when the study is complete.
  • Helping Clients Get Divorced!―To grow your business you need to sell and to sell you need new clients. Because your new clients tend to be someone else's ex-clients, competition is fierce. How can any company grow in that environment? Author Shelly F. Hall offers five common-sense tips to approach prospects. We found particularly interesting one of them: ask the prospect what it will take to make the change? Have you ever done that?
  • Repeating Entrepreneurial Success―Co-editor Stephen James reflects on certain aspects of his entrepreneurial career, specifically on how to hire new employees and on the advantages of documenting how work is done. I am sure you'll find some of his hiring methods unorthodox, yet for his company they have been better than traditional approaches―who can argue with success. And what about documenting how work is done? I can see everybody nodding but few doing it. It seems that large companies can learn a thing or two from entrepreneurs.
  • Make 2014 The Best Business Year Ever!―Business Coach Wayne Bidelman writes about success and how three general principles can help achieve it. The good news is that those with long-term goals will find that the approach Wayne recommends will produce results as long as careful planning is accompanied by action. The bad news is the 95 percent that he mentions. Let one of our 2014 resolutions be to belong to the other 5 percent.

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 carlos_fuentes@aya.yale.edu.

Stephen James, FSA, FCIA is president at JEA Pension System Solutions. He can be reached at s_james@jea.ca.