Predictive Analytics Case Study: Timothy Paris, FSA, MAAA, CEO of Ruark Consulting, LLC
Timothy Paris didn’t anticipate taking an actuarial career path while he was in college. But he realized the immense power of data analytics during his first job out of school.
In high school, Tim developed an affinity for math in advanced placement Calculus. But like many students, he entered college unsure of what he wanted to pursue as a major, and ultimately, a career. While he wasn’t sure what kind of career in which it could lead, Tim signed up for several math courses and quickly decided on a degree in mathematics.
“Math was certainly a passion of mine, but the decision to make it my college major was a leap of faith that if I could obtain a math degree, I could figure out some way to make it useful as a career,” says Tim.
Tim didn’t realize that analyzing data could be a career until he graduated and took his first job as an actuarial student at a startup insurance company. As the only actuarial student, supporting the company’s only actuary, Tim quickly gained valuable skills and exposure to nearly every actuarial function within the company. Gathering, scrubbing and analyzing data quickly and accurately to inform important business decisions was essential to his job function, and became a key part of the foundation for his career.
“Working for such a new insurance company was really exciting in much the same way as other types of startups,” says Tim. “The company was trying to do something new and different, and when I joined it was starting to gain traction. Even as the junior member of a small actuarial department, I could see that our work was making a big difference in the company’s growth and success.”
That experience launched Tim into his career as an actuary in several traditional roles, and ultimately in predictive analytics. Today Tim is the CEO of Ruark Consulting, LLC, which aims to be the platform and industry benchmark for principles-based insurance data analytics and risk management.
Tim’s experience in product development, pricing, experience studies and valuation roles gave him a strong sense of how Ruark could apply predictive analytics techniques to industry- and company-level data in order to help actuaries and their companies make better decisions in managing their business, starting with complex policyholder data for the multi-trillion dollar U.S. annuity market.
With the vast amount of data available today and new advanced tools to interpret that data, one of the greatest challenges for actuaries is the ability to harness data and use it effectively in a timely fashion. Tim makes the analogy between hand tools and power tools – while predictive modeling tools are more advanced than previous generations’ actuarial tools, neither are of much use unless they are in the hands of skilled actuaries. Moreover, the fundamental business problems to be solved are timeless.
New capabilities and an influx of data make the actuarial field an exciting place to be. Tim finds great inspiration working in an industry comprised of intelligent and creative actuaries and data analysts who are anticipating and responding to business challenges through the use of predictive analytics.
Tim’s advice to actuaries looking for a nontraditional start to their career or even a career change from their current role is simple: “Try not to think of predictive analytics as something new. We are using newer and better tools, but we are still using our actuarial skill set to help our companies and clients better address their business challenges and financial risks, same as ever.”