February 2016

From the Editors

 Stephen james Carlos Fuentes By Stephen James and Carlos Fuentes

Because the involvement of actuaries in academia is small, but important, we decided to start a series of interviews with members of that select group—actuaries that spend all or part of their time working at universities with bright, young people. These professionals are a rare breed because they combine deep knowledge on the subject, real world experience and the ability to guide those who will continue to make our profession strong and respected. As you read their responses to the questions asked by The Independent Consultant and compare them to your views you may have different ideas or you may want to ask more questions. If so, please contact the co-editors with comments. Our experience is that being members of a small and active section opens up the door to meeting experts from many fields who are willing to share their knowledge with others.

December was here not long ago. Are you keeping your professional New Year’s resolutions? What were they? Perhaps, find out about the experiences of actuaries involved in academia and maybe become one of them? Explore new frontiers in the actuarial profession and comply with professionalism requirements? Boost your career?  Read more? Maybe write a business book? Whether or not any of these ideas was one of your resolutions, you can learn more about them by reading this issue of The Independent Consultant:

  • In an interview with Professor Jeffrey Zhang, an actuary by training, we learn about his views on topics such as the actuarial exam system, the future of the profession, and his favorite book. We also learn what students think about topics such as health care and social security;  
  • Nick Ortner describes the EAS plans to organize a professionalism webinar that will benefit from the views of traditional and non-traditional actuaries, and will include cases studies that address situations with no easy answers;
  • Author Jamie Graceffa shares with us “Six Strategies to Boost Your Career.” He starts his article by citing a worrying statistic that comes as no surprise to many: most employees are unhappy in their careers. What to do? Well, many people don’t do anything. Others do, but without a plan. What about planning before acting? Read useful tips to do just that;
  • “Want to Write a Business Book?” That is an idea that has occurred to several of us, but we don’t know where to begin. Should you contact a publisher to see if she is interested in your ideas? No. The beginning is a lot easier and a lot more difficult. Easy because with the advice in the article you can start on the right path; difficult because you have to sit down and do the work. As author Elena Petricone reminds us, the most important thing a writer can do after completing a sentence is to stay in the room. We should try it.

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? Did you have a university professor who was also an actuary?   What are your school memories? 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.

Stephen James, FSA, FCIA, can be reached at StephenAndrewJames@shaw.ca.

Carlos Fuentes, FSA, MBA, is president at Axiom Actuarial Consulting. He can be reached at carlos-fuentes@axiom-actuarial.com