I just attended the semiannual meeting of the International Actuarial Association (IAA) in Mexico City. It was amazing to see more than 200 actuaries from all over the globe (36 countries such as South Africa, England, France, Russia, Japan, Indonesia and Germany) working together to advance actuarial knowledge and strengthen our global actuarial profession. I was pleased to see the number of CAS members who were active participants in the IAA meeting. It was also very gratifying to meet representatives from countries like Indonesia and Israel, where the CAS has recently provided casualty actuarial expertise to help their local actuarial bodies.
I was also very excited by the CAS Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. We had record attendance this year — just shy of 1,300 attendees — and celebrated the induction of 245 new Fellows and 234 new Associates. Back when I became an Associate, the total CAS membership numbered 845 — a figure slightly more than the entire CAS classes of May and November 2018! Our growth in numbers and diversity is impressive: This past year our membership grew by 5.1 percent, and just watching the new Fellows walk across the stage showed how diverse the CAS is becoming.
Despite all the good news, there are storm clouds on the horizon for the CAS. Actuarial jobs are being affected by the cost-cutting of industry consolidations as well as new insurtech organizations that are employing few or no actuaries. Even insurers, the traditional employers of actuaries, are filling data analytics roles with non-actuaries. At the IAA meeting, one national actuarial organization after another spoke about data analysts and their concerns about actuaries’ roles in this new world of business. It was quite insightful. Although the CAS has taken steps by adding Modern Actuarial Statistics I & II to our syllabus and establishing The CAS Institute, we cannot rest on our laurels.
The CAS leadership had a tumultuous year during my year as president-elect. To name just three challenges, we dealt with the launch and failure of technology-based examinations (TBE), we assured the NAIC that the CAS syllabus addresses all their newly articulated educational expectations for appointed actuaries, and we presented CAS members with a proposal to combine with the Society of Actuaries (SOA). I am pleased that we made progress on all three.
On the TBE front, the CAS Board commissioned an independent task force to investigate what may have led to the TBE failures. That task force reported back with numerous recommendations for us to address before we bring back TBE. It was especially gratifying to see that the CAS was able to mobilize so many volunteers so quickly to be proctors for the Exam 5 retake we offered around the world. I offer my thanks to everyone involved in that effort!
Regarding the NAIC study, we submitted our analysis showing that all but one of the 100 or so NAIC education topics are currently covered by our Associate syllabus plus Exam 7. Again, I thank the large number of volunteers who worked on this analysis! The one remaining topic is covered by the whole syllabus, but we will make the necessary minor change so that all NAIC topics are covered by the first seven exams.
Finally, although the board ultimately decided not to proceed with the proposed combination with the SOA, the CAS benefited from the work done exploring the proposal.
First, the leadership of both organizations developed respect and confidence in their counterparts. Those relationships at the leadership levels will ensure that we look for additional areas where the organizations can work together. We already work together on the ERM Symposium, diversity efforts, the Joint Risk Management Section, predictive analytics seminars and funded research as well as the initial responses to the NAIC education queries. At the IAA meeting, CAS and SOA leaders met to discuss potential joint efforts in the near future. Two items immediately identified were (1) a day-long banking seminar, to be held the day before the next IAA meeting in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the South African and Canadian actuarial associations, and (2) a joint seminar combining speakers from health insurance and workers’ compensation.
Second, we had tremendous member participation in the survey we conducted after announcing the combination proposal. From those responses we learned what our members value most about the CAS and the issues that most concern them. We will use these insights as the board moves forward with its strategic actions in the coming year.
In closing, I’m honored to be your president and look forward to an exciting and productive year.