2020 Board Member Candidate
James C. (Jim) Berger, FSA 2002, MAAA
I am grateful to the many actuaries who expressed confidence in me by signing my petition to be on the Board ballot. If elected, I look forward to serving them and all the other SOA members diligently.
The SOA Strategic Plan is a blueprint for the future of the profession – a vision I fully support. It must be executed today and updated as the world changes. How this vision prepares the profession for the future and how priorities are set and navigated are critical to the SOA’s success. These priorities will not always be clear. However, to be successful, clarity will be required, especially in the 2022-2026 strategic plan which the board will begin working on next year. My background and experience make me well equipped to help us navigate these challenges.
Member engagement is important to me. Can the connection between the SOA and its members be strengthened? What new services should the SOA offer that practicing actuaries would find useful to their professional pursuits? As an organization, we need to understand our members’ needs. I believe there is tremendous value for each member to be involved with the SOA. Many of our members are active volunteers. We should showcase them more and educate our non-volunteers to the rewards they can reap when they embrace volunteerism. Their engagement is crucial in developing the future leaders of the profession.
Of strategic importance to the SOA is its continued focus on predictive analytics (PA). Fully embracing PA is required for the future of our profession. The deeper our understanding of this disruptive technology’s theory and practice, the broader our opportunities will be both in traditional actuarial roles as well as in new ones outside our traditional spheres. Theory has now moved beyond some of our standard actuarial practices. We can—and must—change and adapt. More broadly, the SOA is examining InsurTech in its many manifestations. I applaud this effort and encourage its expansion.
The SOA is an international organization. This has many implications, and unless we are very careful, it can create competing priorities. Regardless of the geographical location of our membership, our focus on education and research must remain paramount.
Brief description of current work:
I currently work in risk management with a focus on economic capital. I regularly draw upon my extensive background in long-term care insurance in this role.
Primary Area(s) of Practice (per SOA Directory):
I joined GE Capital’s reinsurance business in 2004, spending time managing the LTCI actuarial work before moving to my current role in risk management in 2014. Prior to GE Capital, I worked in consulting and in small and large insurance companies, doing many forms of life and health insurance.
My professional service opportunities include:
- Chairing the LTCI section council in 2012-13
- Membership on numerous Project Oversight Groups
- Frequently speaking at actuarial and industry conferences and producing sessions for these meetings
- Serving as a conference actuarial track chair for several years
- Envisioning and producing a post-ILTCI-conference predictive analytics (PA) seminar for three years that introduced actuaries to the use of PA in LTCI
- Authoring several newsletter articles and a chapter in Actuarial Aspects of Long Term Care (published 2019)
- Membership of the team that rewrote the Associateship-level modules (FAP) in the last two years.
I hold a M.Math. in Statistics and Actuarial Science from the University of Waterloo and an M.A. in mathematics from the University of Kansas.
Outside the industry, volunteer board roles have been quite important to me. For twenty years, I have been involved with a non-profit martial arts school with a focus on those with disabilities of all types. As a black belt, I have served as chair, vice-chair, treasurer, and instructor. The rewards have far exceeded the time and effort I have contributed.
Other volunteer activities include:
- Board chair for a SE Asia relief organization
- Founding board member of a Kansas City area arts organization
- Board member for food bank
- Executive committee member of an international informal public policy network
- Mandola player in the Kansas City Mandolin Orchestra