What is the CAS doing to promote the property-casualty actuarial career to university students and professors in actuarial science departments? As leaders of the CAS University Engagement Committee (UEC), we get this question often. Our answer? A lot! Our committee has 60 volunteers spread across six working groups that are executing on a variety of initiatives to fulfill our university engagement strategy. Read on to learn more!
Nearly 20 years ago the CAS introduced the University Liaison (UL) Program to facilitate the partnership between the academic community and the actuarial profession. Today this program connects more than 300 member volunteers with universities to provide ongoing support and guidance and to share the latest CAS resources and information. We won’t delve too much into this program, since UL Program Chair Jaris Wicklund wrote an in-depth article in the last issue of Actuarial Review. With all of the new programs and resources you will learn about in this article, University Liaisons continue to be essential to the work of the committee, as these volunteers bring all of our information and materials to the attention of the universities.
CAS Student Central
Four years ago, the CAS launched a free student membership program called CAS Student Central, with the goal of helping actuarial students make the successful transition from the classroom to a career as a property-casualty actuary. Today the program boasts 7,000 members from over 500 schools. The program was released with an accompanying website, CASstudentcentral.org, which houses its exclusive member resources like the CAS Curriculum Guide. We will be unveiling a redesigned website this fall semester, which we are excited to share with our student members!
Since 2014 the CAS Student Central program has not only grown in membership, but also in the number and types of benefits offered to students. Thanks to partners like The Infinite Actuary and Gross Consulting, we have been able to offer membership benefits like access to free practice exams on probability and financial mathematics, and predictive modeling software with accompanying training videos.
We have a library of eight webinar recordings, taken from CAS webinars held throughout the year, that focus on student-specific topics such as “Predictive Analytics and Your Actuarial Career,” “Excel and R for Actuaries” and “Landing Your First Actuarial Job.” We also host five CAS Student Programs that are held in conjunction with CAS meetings and seminars. These programs include activities like speed networking, professional headshots and mock interviews as well as deep-dive discussions into the P&C topics that align with each CAS seminar (ratemaking, reserving and reinsurance.)
In 2015 we created the CAS Student Ambassadors Program to cultivate student leaders among the thousands of students who have signed up for CAS Student Central. Currently running at 18 universities, this program matches students with their CAS University Liaisons to champion the CAS and the P&C actuarial profession to their classmates. CAS Student Ambassadors plan actuarial club presentations and networking sessions as well as career panels with P&C industry professionals. Student Ambassadors also provide the UEC with valuable feedback on the benefits we offer through Student Central.
In November 2018, the CAS will be running its first-ever conference exclusively for CAS Student Ambassadors in conjunction with the CAS Annual Meeting. We are looking forward to having these student leaders together in one place to learn from each other, network with CAS members, and gain more insights into our industry to bring back to their universities.
CAS Academic Central and Resources
Actuarial science program professors are essential to the development of a successful pipeline of P&C actuaries. Recognizing this, the UEC has expanded the resources and benefits it provides to academics. Through our free membership program, CAS Academic Central, professors gain access to a number of P&C resources and professional development opportunities. These include free and unlimited CAS webinar registrations and complimentary attendance at up to three in-person CAS meetings and seminars annually.
We provide a robust set of P&C materials for the classroom, including five case study toolkits containing facilitator guides, presentations, data and problem sets. Academic Central members also have access to the CAS Property and Casualty Resource Library, which educators can use to develop university-level courses. The Library is built around three syllabi for courses on reserving, ratemaking and a combination of the two, and it is made up of supporting course materials consisting of articles, texts and other resources — all hand-selected by UEC.
The CAS also offers support to academics pursuing CAS credentials, including exam fee reimbursements for full-time professors who pass CAS exams, CAS Online Courses and the Course on Professionalism. Additionally, academics who attain a CAS designation receive grants from the CAS in the amount of $7,500 for Fellowship and $5,000 for Associateship.
CAS Case Competitions
In recent years, case competitions have grown in popularity among actuarial science program administrators and employers, who recognize them as practical, real-world tools for developing critical thinking and presenting skills. In 2016 the UEC began developing its own case competition toolkits, each one complete with a P&C case study, introductory presentation, data workbook, judge rubric and grading sheet. To date, the UEC has released three competition topics (warranties, workers’ compensation reserving and auto safety features) and an Excel and data visualization case will be released fall 2018. Canada’s Actuarial Students National Association (ASNA) have used by the CAS toolkits twice for its annual convention competition, and they will be incorporating our new case at the 2019 ASNA Convention Case Competition. Additionally, Arizona State University, The University of Texas at Austin, UCLA and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have all run case competitions with our materials. In spring 2018, the University of Minnesota incorporated the case competition materials into a spring semester capstone course.
CAS University Award
The UEC introduced the CAS University Award Program in 2016 to recognize universities doing exemplary work to prepare their students for careers in the P&C insurance industry. We were inspired to create this award after hearing several exciting examples of how universities were engaging with the P&C industry and incorporating P&C topics into their curricula and research. The University Award’s goals are to celebrate the winning schools’ achievements and to promote idea sharing within the academic community.
Now in its third year, the program has recognized 10 universities: Illinois State University, University of California, Santa Barbara, University of Connecticut and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016; Ball State University, St. John’s University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017; and Arizona State University, Renmin University of China and The University of Texas at Austin in 2018.
CAS University Award winners are determined by a panel of judges from companies across the P&C insurance industry. The winning schools each receive a $5,000 award to further enhance their programs, are recognized at the CAS Annual Meeting and are invited to present an Annual Meeting session. For the last three years, CAS University Award winners have also presented at the Actuarial Research Conference to fulfill the goal of sharing ideas.
CAS Trust Scholarship
The CAS Trust Scholarship was created to further students’ interest in the P&C actuarial profession and encourage the pursuit of CAS designations. Since 2002, 47 students have been awarded the scholarship. The award is funded by the CAS Trust and is extremely competitive, requiring an essay, two recommendation letters and a transcript. Beginning in 2014, the CAS has awarded up to three scholarships, one for $10,000 and two for $5,000, and scholarship recipients have been invited to the CAS Annual Meeting.
The University Engagement Committee is always looking for new ways to expand our outreach to schools big and small. It is an incredibly fulfilling job to help schools improve their actuarial programs and students discover this exciting career path. If you would like to become a University Liaison or get involved with the UEC, please contact Tamar Gertner (email@example.com).
Erin Olson, FCAS, is state management director for USAA in San Antonio, Texas. Tom Whitcomb, FCAS, a senior actuary with Travelers in Hartford, Connecticut.