How Do Actuaries Preserve Their Market Value?

I recently presented the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) Board Update at the Midwestern Actuarial Forum (MAF) Spring Meeting. The presentation addressed several strategic initiatives currently underway within the CAS. The most actively discussed initiative was The CAS Institute (iCAS).

Established in late 2015 as a CAS subsidiary, iCAS will provide credentialing and professional education for quantitative specialists who are closely aligned with property-casualty actuaries. The initial types of specialties identified will include predictive analytics, catastrophe modeling and capital modeling. The CAS Institute will also focus on creating communities in which actuaries and quantitative specialists with common areas of practice can collaborate on research, advance specialized applications of new technology and develop continuing educational opportunities. Another exciting feature of iCAS is the partnership between the CAS and The Institutes, the risk and insurance knowledge group. The CAS and The Institutes are developing educational content for credentials to be offered by iCAS as well as professional education for the end business user. This may be the most important CAS initiative undertaken during the course of my career.

New data sources and monitoring devices with insurance applications seem to pop up daily, whether we want them or not — kind of like the dandelions in my yard.


Of course, change can create uncertainty and sometimes fear. While at the MAF meeting, I was asked several questions that translated to, “How does an actuary preserve his or her market value when compared with an iCAS-certified predictive modeler?” This question is not new. In the 1990s, we wondered how actuaries would preserve their market value when competing with product managers. In the 2000s, some wondered if CFAs would encroach upon our territory. Others viewed the SOA general insurance track as a danger. Today, data scientists are our newest “threat.”

There are two fundamental facts to keep in mind. First, we live in the most data-driven environment the world has ever known. New data sources and monitoring devices with insurance applications seem to pop up daily, whether we want them or not — kind of like the dandelions in my yard. The demand for the skills we are developing in CAS members has never been higher, and we are not fully meeting it. Predictive analytics jobs all over North America remain unfilled and the high demand brings lucrative compensation to those capable of meeting it.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, we are in an actively competitive market to provide these services. Gone are the days when actuaries were virtually a protected class of employee. (“Oh, nobody else can do the mystical stuff the actuaries do.”) If we don’t meet the demand to provide data-driven solutions to our customers, there is an increasingly long list of alternatives now available to them. This means that CAS members need to be proficient not only in the technical aspects of our work, but also in their business applications. There has never been greater demand for actuaries who are able to not only translate the technical details, but also be part of the team developing and implementing the business solutions.

So how do we actuaries preserve our market value in this ever-changing, data-driven world? In short, we earn it. We earn it the same way actuaries always have: by demonstrating our risk analysis skills, by thinking critically in applying models and analytics and by communicating effectively our data-driven, value-added insights to our customers.

Robert J. Walling, FCAS, CERA, is a principal & consulting actuary for Pinnacle Actuarial Resources, Inc. in Bloomington, Illinois, and a CAS Board Member.