By Greg Roemelt
Risks & Rewards, June 2021
Obviously, this has been an unusual year to be chairperson of the Investment Section. I am very pleased how the council has dealt with the frictions associated with a global pandemic. With varying degrees of success, the council has focused its energies in the following areas:
- Education—Prior to COVID, the Investment Section had been providing educational opportunities via webcasts to its section members and to the Society of Actuaries (SOA) membership at large. When the pandemic shut down in-person meetings, the council increased focus on this medium. I am very proud of the efforts of the council to provide high quality sessions that advance the actuarial profession and provide continuing educational opportunities.
- Research—Research has always been a focus of the Investment Section. With the recent rapid and unprecedented changes to federal monetary policy, I believe it is important to understand the potential impact on capital markets and how changes to the capital markets could impact insurance companies and pension plans. To this end, the council has provided funding to the SOA’s Committee on Finance Research (CFR) research team and we are helping CFR identify potential areas of focus for their research activities.
- Capital Market Data—To set assumptions, an actuary needs clean, accurate data. Good data is also needed for research. Both processes fail without data. One of the strengths of the SOA has been providing data for assumptions setting: Mortality, lapse and other information actuaries have used to support the assumption setting process. One of my goals as chairperson was to utilize the Investment Section resources to provide clean, timely and easily accessible data on interest rates, credit spreads, and other data items that will facilitate both assumption setting and research. The council is still investigating what data should be provided, how to source it and how to deliver it to the end users. This will be an ongoing process, but I believe we are moving in the right direction.
- Working with Other Sections—Investment topics impact a number of other sections (Retirement, Financial Reporting, Product Development, etc.) and I believe there is an opportunity for partnerships between sections, allowing the Investment Section to share its expertise. For example, the section could partner with the Financial Reporting section to understand the impact of Economic Scenario Generators on the principal-based reserving calculation.
As a council, we’ve also tried to understand how we can meet the needs of the section members. We recently set a survey, asking members how we could best utilize our resource to add value to the members.
With light at the end of the COVID tunnel, I’m looking forward to in-person meetings and continuing to move forward on our priorities.
Statements of fact and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Society of Actuaries, the editors, or the respective authors’ employers.
Greg Roemelt, FSA, MAAA, is principal for Oliver Wyman. He can be contacted at email@example.com.