President's Message

Change is Hard

Socrates once said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” But change is hard.

A quick internet search will reveal the top stressors in a person’s lifetime, and they’re all related to change — grieving the death of a loved one, starting a new job, moving to a new city and so forth.

We were born from change

But the CAS was born out of change — 108 years ago. That’s a long time, and we’ve successfully navigated a lot of change since then. For instance, think of how insurance has changed over that period.

Back in 1911, a tragedy in Manhattan known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire brought awareness of the need for workers’ compensation insurance. To make this new line of business a reality, a group of very smart statisticians, using very little data, determined base rates for workers’ comp and formed a Society to publish research that would build upon and improve their work. Over the next century, the CAS expanded quickly, and we put our unique skills to work to help the world protect its homes, automobiles and businesses. Really intelligent people know how to adapt and know that you have to move forward or risk being left behind.

Move forward but maintain the secret sauce

We’ve done just that for over a century, and we will continue to move forward and, as Socrates said, “build the new,” thoughtfully and carefully.

We will continue to position ourselves as that group of very smart statisticians using very little data to quantify risk. Of course, the tools and techniques will change, and the lines of business will evolve, but the CAS will always be relevant if we adapt while not losing sight of what’s important to our members. These are the ingredients of our secret sauce:

  • The traditions that our members cherish (like grading exams).
  • The principles that our members stand for (like the Ratemaking Principles).
  • The achievements that our members hold dear (like our credentials).
  • The esteemed meritocracy that we’ve built (so that those credentials never lose their value).
  • The volunteer culture that has allowed our members to form deep lasting relationships across the industry.

These are all very important, and we have to recognize them and give them the care and feeding they deserve because they are our secret sauce, which has allowed us to navigate change, thrive and grow for over a century.

Back in 1911, a tragedy in Manhattan known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire brought awareness of the need for workers’ compensation insurance.

A 100-year-old message rings true

So, I will end my term as president and this President’s Message with the thoughts of I.M. Rubinow, the CAS’s first president. He delivered this message in 1924 when the CAS was celebrating its 10th anniversary, and the words, after so much change has occurred, continue to ring true today:

… Insurance organizations of all types, whether private, mutual or State, have derived a tremendous advantage from the organization and work of the Casualty Actuarial Society. Whether this advantage has expressed itself in higher profits or larger dividends, or lower rates, is immaterial. These advantages have not been paid for, no payment has been exacted. In a true scientific spirit, the Society has remained, and I hope always will remain, an organization of individual professional workers and scientific students. Actuarial science is a legitimate and important aspect of social, as well as of mathematical science. The method of approach in this branch of scientific inquiry will always remain primarily a statistical one, for insurance to a very large extent is the very embodiment of practical applications of the statistical method. May I, therefore, conclude with a plea for the preservation of statistics as such, if not in the name, at least in the spirit of the Casualty Actuarial Society?