March 2019 SOA Board of Directors Meeting

Schaumburg, IL (April 8, 2019) – The Society of Actuaries (SOA) Board of Directors (Board) met March 17 - 18, 2019 in its regular first-quarter in-person meeting.

Long Term Growth Strategy: Future of the Professions

The SOA is embarking on a significant and comprehensive long-term assessment of the future of actuaries.  The rise of big data and data analytics, innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and a changing economic landscape are rapidly changing insurance and the work of actuaries.  While many changes are unknown and still in the future, the Board is working today to be able to position our members and candidates to adapt to the changing landscape, take advantage of the many opportunities it will offer, and be successful in the work they will do in the future. 

As it begins this work, the Board invited Richard Susskind, co-author of “The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Professionals,” to present to the Board on how ‘increasingly capable systems’ - from telepresence to artificial intelligence - could bring about a democratization of knowledge that fundamentally changes how a professional’s expertise is developed and delivered.  Susskind encouraged the Board to use “outcome thinking” to shape the future by considering, first, how these external forces might change our understanding of risk and how to finance risk mitigation, and then secondly, to align our education of actuaries and the skill sets we emphasize to meet those emerging needs. The Board followed that discussion with generative discussions considering different models for the actuary as skilled professional, what skill sets those models would require, and how the SOA could best facilitate that skill development.  

This project is a natural extension of work the Board began in 2018 to explore InsurTech developments and their implications for the actuarial profession and is part of the SOA’s commitment to thought leadership on behalf of our members in rapidly changing markets. The next step in this project will be to consider specifically how future technologies and changing markets could change our understanding of risks and opportunities and how best to manage their interaction.  The Board will then work to determine how to best align future actuarial skill sets to meet these needs. The Board will work on this project throughout 2019 and into 2020.

2019 Election Board of Directors Reserved Seat

As the SOA begins to prepare for this year’s SOA elections, the Board voted to create a reserved seat in 2019 for a member from Canada. Approximately 17 percent of all SOA members reside in Canada and Canadian perspectives have always been deeply important to SOA policy and decision-making. While the SOA has had a strong presence of Canadian members on the Board in recent years, all current Canadian members’ terms will conclude at the 2019 Annual Meeting. The Board wants to ensure a strong Canadian presence on the Board is maintained and has created the reserved seat to ensure that occurs.

Board Debriefs on the SOA/CAS Combination Proposal

The Board spent time at their meeting reflecting on the recent SOA/CAS combination proposal. The Board also discussed how the SOA will continue to work with other organizations both within and outside the actuarial profession to create value for SOA members, stakeholders, and the public.   With the 2017-2021 Strategic Planin place and strategic and operational initiatives underway, the SOA Board continues to pursue the organization’s existing strategy to build on our long history of success.

SOA Strategy on Predictive Analytics

The Board received an update on the SOA’s Predictive Analytics strategy and provided insight and direction on the four-pronged strategy of enhanced professional development, pre-qualification education, research and employer awareness. The Board reaffirmed its support for activities to increase actuaries’ skills in predictive analytics and to raise awareness among employers and members about the actuarial skill set in this area. It also discussed the importance of encouraging professionalism in the use of predictive analytics techniques. Next steps for these strategies include:

Professional Development:

  • Offering a variety of learning opportunities covering hands-on analytics techniques as well as management level sessions;
  • Exploring a variety of potential partnerships to deliver knowledge on core techniques to members.

Pre-Qualification Education

  • Continuing to strengthen our addition of predictive analytics education and new assessment methods into the pre-qualification education system.

Research Using Predictive Analytics

  • Launching in April the Actuarial Innovation & Technology Strategic Research Program;
  • Preparing a new report on the “Top Actuarial Technologies of 2019;”
  • Planning a variety of other predictive analytics and technology-related research efforts.

Marketing and Communications Campaign

  • Continuing focus on increasing employer awareness of actuarial skills in predictive analytics, with special attention to the life insurance and healthcare markets;
  • Exploring other potential practice areas for outreach and awareness-raising.

SOA Inclusion and Diversity Strategy Update

The Inclusion and Diversity Committee (IDC) presented updates on the SOA’s diversity and inclusion strategy and sought input from the Board on a potential awareness campaign and how the profession can work together for maximum effectiveness on diversity and inclusion strategies.

If undertaken, the awareness campaign would address the barriers to entering the profession encountered by African-American and Latino and Hispanic youth in the U.S. as identified by the 2017 Barriers to Entry research study sponsored by the SOA and Casualty Actuarial Society with assistance from the International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA) and The Actuarial Foundation. Lack of awareness and late awareness for students, parents, teachers and other influencers is the first barrier encountered on the pathway to becoming an actuary. To increase awareness and consideration among a competitive market of STEM professions, a marketing and communications campaign could help create a funnel to opportunities for student engagement with actuaries and actuarial science programs.

Through the IABA Corporate Advisory Council, the SOA and CAS helped to form a task force with the responsibility of reviewing awareness campaign proposals from firms recruited through a competitive request for proposal process. This work occurred over the last quarter of 2018 and resulted in identifying a campaign and a firm with the potential to address the awareness issue.

The Board encouraged further examination by the SOA and CAS of the feasibility and sustainability of this kind of capital campaign and delivering a report with recommendations to their respective Boards as soon as possible.

In addition to a possible awareness campaign, the IDC looked for insight from the Board on potential ways for the SOA and CAS to collaborate more closely on diversity and inclusion strategies impacting the US actuarial profession.

SOA International Strategy Update

The Board received an update on the 2019 initiative to review and update the SOA’s International Strategy.

The SOA has an increasingly international membership with 18% of members and 28% of candidates based outside of North America. In 2011, the Board of Directors began to articulate a specific international strategy and formed the International Committee (IC) to help carry out the strategy. This has led to significantly increased international activities, particularly in Asia, and the development of three “regional” strategies for China, Greater Asia and Latin America, with corresponding regional committees.

The International Committee reported to the Board on its progress in completing the review and refresh of the strategy planned for this year and their work to update the framework used for evaluating new markets for possible attention by the SOA.

The International Committee will continue gathering quantitative and qualitative data to support its review, including member satisfaction and engagement, professional development participation, and usefulness of research projects. The International Committee will also assess themes from stakeholder meetings, interviews with regional committee members, and other scheduled outreach visits.

The Board discussed all these matters and provided feedback for the IC’s continued work.  

International Actuarial Association Update and Renewal Task Force

Given the significant financial and volunteer resources the SOA commits to the International Actuarial Association (IAA), the Board was briefed on current developments in the organization. An important part of this discussion focused on the IAA’s recently-commissioned “Renewal Task Force,” currently reviewing the governance and structure of the IAA. The SOA believes changes in these areas are urgently needed to help the IAA achieve its objectives and to serve its members, the various actuarial organizations around the world. Recommendations are expected for discussion and decision at 2019 IAA meetings. 

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