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2018 Actuarial Practice Expansion and Socially Relevant Research

Background and Purpose

The strategic plan of the Society of Actuaries (SOA) includes several important research goals. One goal is to cultivate innovative and practical ideas that expand the boundaries of the actuarial profession into new practice areas. This “Practice Expansion” goal looks to fund high quality research projects that directly educate members on new concepts, or deepen knowledge in emerging topics. Additionally, the SOA desires to develop additional intellectual capital that serves the interest of the public and the profession’s stakeholders. This “Social Relevance” goal aims to further the profession’s focus on objective research that can be used by stakeholders as input for recommendations and decisions on key societal issues.

The Research Executive Committee (REC) of the SOA oversees the Research Expanding Boundaries Pool (REX Pool). This key source of SOA research funding is used to sponsor projects that are beneficial to the entire profession, across practice area boundaries that are normally addressed by the SOA’s Practice Research Committees, and may require funding levels beyond the normal annual funding budgets of research committees and sections. The REC is issuing this Call for Proposals to fulfill the strategic goals of the SOA through use of the REX Pool for funding new projects.

Research Objective

To broaden knowledge in Practice Expansion and Socially Relevant Research topics, the REC is seeking researchers to submit one or more proposals. Sample topics below have been identified as focus areas by the REC. The description of each of the topics has deliberately been written to be brief and open-ended in order to give researchers sufficient latitude in the development of their proposals. Researchers should not feel constrained by these topics, as many other relevant topics continuously emerge in actuarial practice and of societal impact.

Key considerations in the proposal review process by the REC are the demonstration that the expected work will not be duplicative of existing material, will represent a significant expansion in the current knowledge on the topic, and will be of considerably strong impact and benefit to the SOA and its members and stakeholders. In keeping with the strategic goals of this RFP, proposals should approach a topic with actuarial competencies in mind. This includes competencies such as management and measurement of risk among others. Furthermore, proposals should include an overarching focus on the core principles of SOA research including objectivity, quality, relevance and quantification.

Projects can range in size, breadth and duration. Output should include a project report and materials that can be used for member and stakeholder education; other project outputs that can enhance understanding of results (such as spreadsheets, pivot tables, infographics, and models) are encouraged. Given the desire to advance knowledge on current subjects and provide timely results, preference will be given to projects that can be completed for publishing and for continuing education in under 12 - 18 months. Initial phases of multi-phase projects are preferred to be completed within 12 months.

Suggested Topic Areas:

  • Society of Actuaries Strategic Research Program on Aging and Retirement:
    • Aging issues such as end of life care; long term care; risks of increased longevity; and cost impact of palliative care
    • Retirement issues such as housing options and use of home equity; retirement timing; efficient decumulation strategies; work as part of retirement; the evolution of retirement security and financial security in light of the growing gig economy; the changing relationships between employees and employers; the impact of family structure dynamics on retirement funding such as blended families and other situations; and overall system changes
  • Society of Actuaries Strategic Research Program on Actuarial Innovation and Technology:
    • Technology including peer to peer and sharing economies; improvement of health and innovation in health care; genetic testing; machine learning; driverless vehicles; cyber security; and wearables
    • Predictive Analytics focused on areas of business-decision making and related applications
    • Infrastructure issues including transportation and roads; supply chain management; and new building trends
    • Energy considerations such as transition to new forms of energy; and cost and pricing models
  • Society of Actuaries Strategic Research Program on Catastrophes and Climate:
    • Climate trends and impact of extreme weather catastrophes including modeling of flood and other extreme climate risks; evolution of social and private insurance programs; impact of population and/or construction trends on extreme weather risks.
    • Environmental issues including sustainability; water resource changes; valuation of environmental liabilities; financial evaluation of mitigation techniques; and climate change. Proposals addressing these issues should avoid conclusions of scientific causality and other statements beyond actuarial competencies
  • Society of Actuaries Strategic Research Program on Health Care Cost Trends:
    • Health Care System Reform including innovative health care and insurance products; health care cost reduction approaches; and refined health care markets
    • Public Health issues such as the impact of economic disparity of care; cost of pandemics or diseases; and reform efforts relating to Medicare and Medicaid
  • Society of Actuaries Strategic Research Program on Mortality and Longevity:
    • Demographics including considerations of family structure changes; impact of immigration and emigration in an actuarial context; generational trends; and population growth
    • Drivers of Mortality including socioeconomic factors such as income, education and geography; technology trends; and predictive mortality models.
  • Actuarial Education considerations, such as methods and technologies to best educate actuaries for the future; development of skills; attracting top STEM students to the profession
  • Financial Literacy including ways to increase knowledge of financial issues; and improved education for savings and financial planning.

The SOA and REC additionally encourage partnerships between academia and industry where the resulting work can be of mutual interest and enhance the breadth of the research work.

Proposal and REX Pool Application

Proposals may be made for any desired research. All proposals must be accompanied by a formal REX Pool Application. To facilitate the evaluation of proposals and applications, the following information should be submitted:

  1. Resumes of the researcher(s), including any additional research colleagues or graduate student(s) expected to participate, indicating how their background, education and experience bear on their qualifications to undertake the research. If more than one researcher is involved, a single individual should be designated as the lead researcher and primary contact. The person submitting the proposal must be authorized to speak on behalf of all the researchers as well as for the firm or institution on whose behalf the proposal is submitted.
  2. An outline of the approach to be used (e.g. literature search, model, survey, data analysis, etc.), emphasizing issues that require special consideration. Details should be given regarding the techniques to be used, collateral material to be consulted, and possible limitations of the analysis.
  3. A description of the expected deliverables and any supporting data, tools or other resources needed to accomplish the project.
  4. Cost estimates for the research, considering items such as compensation for investigation, report preparation, and material costs.
  5. Such estimates can be in the form of hourly rates, but in such cases, time estimates should also be included in order to determine the likely total cost of the project. Any guarantees as to total cost should be given and will be considered in the evaluation of the proposal. While cost will be a factor in the evaluation of the proposal, it will not necessarily be the decisive factor.
  6. A schedule for completion of the research, identifying key dates or time frames for research completion and report submissions. The REC is interested in completing these projects in a timely manner for maximum current impact. Suggestions in the proposal for ensuring timely deliver, such as fee adjustments, are encouraged.
  7. Other related factors that give evidence of a proposer's capabilities to perform in a superior fashion should be detailed.
  8. Along with the proposal, a formal application for funding to the REX Pool must be prepared and submitted by the proposer The application and guidelines for submission can be found by clicking on the following hyperlink: /research/opportunities/rex-pool-researcher-guidelines/

Selection Process

The REC will oversee the selection of projects. Researchers are encouraged to review the evaluation criteria for REX Pool projects in order to ensure project proposals are consistent with the goals of the REX Pool. The REC will review each proposal and is responsible for recommending proposals to be funded. Input from other knowledgeable individuals also may be sought, but the REC will make all final decisions, subject to SOA leadership approval. SOA staff will provide staff actuarial support to develop and publish the projects.


Any questions regarding this RFP should be directed to R. Dale Hall, SOA Managing Director of Research (phone: 847-273-8835; email:

Submission of Proposal

Please e-mail a copy of the proposal to Barb Scott.

Proposals must be received no later than June 30, 2018. It is anticipated that all proposers will be informed of the status of their proposal within 45 days of submission.

Note: Proposals will be considered confidential, and in order to preserve the research intentions of the proposer will not be shared beyond SOA review teams.


The selection of a proposal is conditioned upon and not considered final until a Letter of Agreement is executed by both the SOA and the researcher.

The SOA reserves the right to not award contracts for this call for proposals. Reasons for not awarding a contract could include, but are not limited to, a lack of acceptable proposals or a finding that insufficient funds are available. The SOA also reserves the right to redirect the project to other committees or sections within the SOA as is deemed advisable.

The SOA plans to hold the copyright to the research and to publish the results with appropriate credit given to the researcher(s).

The SOA may choose to seek public exposure or media attention for the research. By submitting a proposal, you agree to cooperate in publicizing or promoting the research and responding to media requests.

The SOA may also choose to market and promote the research to members, candidates and other interested parties. You agree to perform promotional communication as reasonably requested, which may include, but is not limited to, leading a webcast on the research, presenting the research at continuing education meetings, and/or writing an article on the research for an organizational publication.