By Carolyn Covington
Small Talk, December 2020
As I write this article, I have just finished attending and presenting at the Society of Actuaries (SOA) first-ever Virtual Annual Meeting & Exhibit. When I think back to the 2019 annual meeting in Toronto, it feels like a lifetime ago, back when meetings included handshakes and packed networking events instead of video calls with pets and family members running around in the background.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly brought about a significant amount of change and disruption to our professional and personal lives. In spite of these challenges, I feel the SOA and the Smaller Insurance Company Section (SmallCo) have managed to pivot and continue to provide meaningful value to their members. For the SOA, this involved moving to virtual meetings and making significant modifications to the exam process to accommodate the need to socially distance during the pandemic. For SmallCo, this meant altering our plans and finding new ways to meet the needs of our members. I’m particularly proud of these SmallCo accomplishments in 2020:
- Webinars. SmallCo continued to organize multiple webinars in 2020. By the end of 2020, SmallCo will have sponsored or cosponsored five webinars, including a COVID-19 townhall focused on what a small company actuary needs to know about the pandemic. Other webinars covered illustration testing, lessons learned with principle-based reserve (PBR) filings, simplified issue underwriting, and year-end financial reporting issues and considerations.
- Research. SmallCo encourages and supports new research initiatives with a focus on topics that most impact smaller insurance company actuaries. SmallCo funded research on simplified PBR methodology, which was published in July, as well as the simplified underwriting survey published in February 2020. In the coming year, SmallCo will continue to look for new opportunities to fund and support research impacting small company actuaries.
- Networking. At the 2019 annual face-to-face meeting of SmallCo, we made plans to offer a series of in-person regional networking events this year. Obviously, COVID-19 threw a wrench in these plans. However, SmallCo was able to modify its plans and offer its first-ever virtual happy hour, which was very well received among SmallCo members and other attendees. Be on the lookout for more virtual happy hours in the coming months!
- Monthly calls. Lively monthly section calls for SmallCo have always been one of the section’s greatest strengths, but throughout 2020, with the unknowns of the pandemic, these calls became even more meaningful and helpful to SmallCo council members and friends of the council. Each month, we had very active discussion and knowledge sharing as small companies were trying to adapt to the pandemic and assess the impact. If you are looking for a platform for active discussion of issues impacting smaller insurance companies, I highly recommend becoming a friend of the section and joining our monthly calls.
I have been involved with SmallCo for more than five years now. I first became a friend of the council when I was a consultant working with smaller insurance companies. I was looking for a place to learn more about the challenges facing smaller insurance companies, and I quickly found that SmallCo was a great group of professionals, eager to share their knowledge and help brainstorm solutions. As I look back on my past three years as a council member and, in particular, on this past year as section chair of SmallCo, I feel very blessed to have been part of this SOA section. I am forever grateful for the connections I have made and the impact we have had for our members. I look forward to staying involved as a friend of the council and seeing what 2021 brings for SmallCo and its members.
Carolyn Covington, FSA, CERA, MAAA, is vice president, actuary—Experience Analysis at SCOR Global Life Americas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.