Meet CAS Vice President-Research and Development Avraham Adler

Our Meet the Veep column introduces our members and candidates to the CAS Vice Presidents who serve on the Executive Council (EC). The EC is the governance arm of the CAS that oversees the operations of the organization. It consists of the president, president-elect, executive director and six vice presidents in charge of different functional areas.

In this installment, we are pleased to introduce the CAS Vice President-Research and Development Avraham Adler, FCAS, CERA, CSPA, who is in the midst of his first year as a vice president (VPs typically serve three-year terms).

What is your day-to-day job?

I’m a senior vice president at Guy Carpenter in New York City. My job includes a variety of tasks, including preparing company-specific analyses such as large-scale optimization studies for client reinsurance transactions and capital allocation; performing enterprise risk management analyses; developing and giving presentations for in-house employees, clients and business partners; and managing other actuaries. My job also includes a fair amount of in-house research, which fits in well with my CAS volunteer role.

What is your role as the CAS vice president-professional education?

I oversee the CAS’s research function, which, broadly speaking, means implementing the CAS Board of Directors strategic vision for research. This is a two-way street — while the board provides direction, I also bring ideas, issues and suggestions raised by the membership to the board.

On more of a day-to-day basis, I manage our research committees, such as reserving, ratemaking and reinsurance research, which are responsible for facilitating and supporting research projects through calls for papers and funded research.

The ultimate goal is to allow CAS members to move the boundaries of casualty actuarial science.

What volunteer work had you done for the CAS that led to your appointment as VP?

I started volunteering for the CAS as soon as I became a Fellow, but I took a different path than most new Fellows. I bypassed the typical Exam Committee route and joined a research committee, the Committee on Reinsurance Research.

From there, I have mostly been involved in groups focused on either conducting research, such as the Cyber Risk Task Force and various research working parties, or publishing research, such as the Editorial Committee and Publications Management Board. I have also done peer review for Variance.

I took a different volunteer opportunity a few years ago, when I was asked to serve on the CAS Nominating Committee as the “New Fellow” (an FCAS with less than 10 years’ experience). This gave me exposure to the CAS governance process, where I saw firsthand the care, dedication and passion our volunteers have for managing the CAS. This inspired me to continue giving back and to look for leadership opportunities. After an unsuccessful run for the board of directors, I was honored to accept the appointment of vice president.

What are your goals as the CAS vice president-research and development?

The goals of the CAS vice presidents are well-defined. As I mentioned, the board of directors sets the strategic direction of the CAS, with a set of objectives articulated in the CAS Strategic Plan. The VPs identify goals that support these objectives.

I have goals for our traditional approaches to research, such as funding projects on priority topics through our traditional committee structure. One goal in particular is building research communities of interest. These are neither committees nor working parties. They are CAS-sponsored email discussion lists. Consider them as virtual break rooms into which actuaries can drop in and out at will and be involved to whatever extent they wish on topics that may interest them, prompted at times by a moderator seeding the conversation. The point is to create an informal place where actuaries can go to discuss a particular research area, with the opportunity to take the discussion further by spinning off a more formal research committee or working party.

I wrote about the development of these communities in detail on The CAS Roundtable blog for anyone who wants to learn more. I encourage members to join the conversations!

We think this new initiative can help address some of the stagnation we’ve seen around the CAS research function — member involvement in research is not growing at the rate that membership is growing. With more members thinking about research problems, we can rejuvenate and reenergize research in the CAS and continue pushing the boundaries to make everyone better.

Could you share an interesting fact about yourself?

I was born and bred in New York City. Although I have spent time living in Miami Beach and now reside in upstate New York, I spent most of my life in the city, living in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens (during my days at Queens College University of New York). I love the city — it’s an incredibly energetic place to be. But when it’s time for an escape, I love a good book, especially the work of Tolkien.

When you meet new Associates and Fellows at the Spring and Annual Meetings, what information or advice do you try to impart?

To new Associates, I say, “Don’t stop now. Keep going and finish your Fellowship exams. The further you get in your career, the less time you will have to sit for exams.

And to new Fellows, I say, “Enjoy real-life now that you have the time, but don’t stop learning. Make sure that you understand statistical software and teach yourself some form of coding because it is the wave of the present. You’ll have the ability to take your actuarial insights beyond the spreadsheet, which will make a big difference in your career.”