“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller
I feel very fortunate to be the president of the CAS, a strong organization that is recognized as the premier educator and credentialing body of property-casualty actuaries. We have grown tremendously over the past two years; our membership has increased by 14.5 percent — from 6,937 in 2015 to 7,943 in 2017. We also had 3,832 candidates sit for exams in the last year.
Our success as an organization is due to our volunteers and their efficient collaboration with our outstanding CAS staff. One out of every three members volunteers. That means we have 2,468 volunteers working to make the CAS a stronger organization every day. This volunteer rate is higher than that of other nonprofit organizations and actuarial organizations. This allows the CAS to continue to produce outstanding educational offerings. During my term, I will continue to support and to reward our volunteers. They are the lifeblood of the CAS.
At the 2017 CAS Leadership Summit, we had three sessions focused on educating and rewarding volunteers. We started with a four-hour morning workshop titled “Engaging and Motivating Volunteers.” The goal of the session was to help our chairs and vice chairs run their committees more effectively and to get their members more engaged in the work.
In the afternoon I led a discussion on how committee chairs can work more effectively with CAS staff. The discussion was fueled by a survey that I developed with our Leadership Development Committee. We have a very talented staff who can provide even more resources to make our committees run more efficiently. We will continue to provide additional information on this topic throughout the next year.
We also launched a new volunteer recognition program at the Leadership Summit. While we have several volunteer awards (e.g., lifetime achievement), these programs reward a small number of people. Our new program is intended to reward more members. We know that many of our volunteers are going above and beyond their duties on a daily basis to make the CAS better. Therefore, our goal is to recognize 25 percent or more of our volunteers.
Throughout my term, I will continue to support our volunteers and will look for ways to reward them, to make their lives easier, and to provide them with the tools to increase the efficiency of their committees.
I would also like to share with you two other priorities that I focused on at the Leadership Summit: (1) diversity and (2) the Strategic Education Task Force.
It was my honor to give one of the CAS’s first S’well Volunteer Awards to Alejandro Ortega for his great work in officially forming the Organization of Latino Actuaries (OLA). The CAS and I have been very supportive of Alejandro and OLA. Alejandro also presented at the Leadership Summit on OLA’s formation and strategic direction.
We were also very fortunate to have Sharon Robinson and Kwame Davis speak on behalf of the International Association of Black Actuaries’ (IABA) activities, and they provided a summary of the 2017 IABA Annual Meeting. I attended the meeting and it was a wonderful event. It had a variety of educational sessions, time for networking, and a session to celebrate IABA leaders. Two of the leaders honored were CAS members: Sharon Robinson and Ollie Sherman.
We know that many of our volunteers are going above and beyond their duties on a daily basis to make the CAS better. Therefore, our goal is to recognize 25 percent or more of our volunteers.
I am very proud of the progress we have achieved in diversity; however, we still have a lot of work to do. I will continue to work to strongly support OLA and IABA, and to strengthen the partnership between the CAS and both organizations. I am working with OLA and IABA to hold a day for high school students (targeting minority students) in Chicago to expose them to the actuarial profession. I have also enlisted the help of the SOA and The Actuarial Foundation, and they are both supporting the effort. If the program is successful, we plan to work with these organizations to introduce it to other cities. We are also working with the SOA to support LGBT members of the actuarial community.
The last item I would like to discuss is education. As the premier educator and credentialing body of property-casualty actuaries, the CAS must constantly improve our education in order to maintain this position. I am sure many of you are aware that Nancy Braithwaite, our past president, focused on the importance of education and the need to constantly innovate during her presidential year.
The CAS Board formed a strategic education task force to evaluate several items. I will report back to you throughout my term on the progress of the task force. We want to continue to attract and educate actuaries who not only have technical knowledge but also business acumen and superb presentation skills. We need to provide the education necessary for our members to succeed in the next year and to anticipate the skills that they will need in five or ten years. Therefore, we constantly review our syllabus material. We recently introduced two new exams: Modern Actuarial Statistics I and II. These new exams will test statistical knowledge, which is the foundation of predictive analytics. The task force is working on many items, which I will share in the future as the work progresses. I will be discussing predictive analytics at length with you during my term as I believe it is a growth area for our profession.
I am very proud of the work that The CAS Institute (iCAS) and our subject matter experts are doing. As of this writing, iCAS has more than 360 members from 15 countries. Through the Experienced Practitioner Pathway, 78 Certified Specialist in Predictive Analytics (CSPA) designations have been awarded and 144 people have registered for the exams. I frequently meet with employers and leaders from other actuarial organizations throughout the world and both groups are very excited about our designation and work in predictive analytics. There is great demand for individuals with skills in predictive analytics. If you are interested in learning more about iCAS and the CSPA designation, I strongly encourage you to listen to a recently recorded, free webinar (you can find it on the iCAS website at http://thecasinstitute.org in the Professional Education section).
In closing, I am honored to be your president, and I am very excited about the number of great initiatives we have in progress. Also, in case I was not clear enough, THANK YOU to all CAS volunteers! You make the CAS work!
Editor’s Note: For more details about the 2017 CAS Leadership Summit, read Brian Brown’s post on the CAS Roundtable blog.
Brian Z. Brown, FCAS, is a consulting actuary for Milliman, Inc., in Chicago.