From the Leadership Council

By Kurt F. Piper, FSPA, MAAA, ASA • May 16, 2017 • 0 Comments
On May 4-6, Bill Karbon, Judy Miller and I attended a meeting of the North American Actuarial Council (NAAC), which consists of the Presidents and Presidents Elect of the five U.S. actuarial organizations, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) and the three Mexican actuarial organizations. In addition to the topics presented and discussed, such meetings build personal bridges between the organizations which are useful for a small organization such as ACOPA to further the interests of ACOPA when issues arise.

There were a number of topics I found of interest.

First, the profession has been intensely pursuing diversity for years, with some disappointing results. It seems many of the top-tier prospects are turning down actuarial careers for jobs that sometimes pay twice as much. My view is that this shows that some other professions are overpaying in order to “look good” and/or insurance companies are as cheap as I remember them being when I was young. The lesson might be to find diverse talent by growing it yourself from young men and women who learn well in the real world and work hard.

Second, “reputational risk” is still a big concern for the other American organizations. Certainly there is some risk with respect to public plan actuaries being blamed for politicians not adequately funding public plans. I consider that risk a communications failure and a failure to study how mud is slung and avoided in American politics. Remember our unofficial motto: All Pension Problems Can Be Solved With More Money. Notably, the Canadians don’t see that they have a problem because they have a symbiosis with the Canadian government that is even closer than what we pension actuaries have with the JBEA. Politicians who will be hit with mud thrown at you will usually try to protect both of you from the mud.

Third, ice cream is better as a dessert than a mediocre pastry, especially if it is chocolate. And chocolate ice cream goes well with Cabernet.

Fourth, there was some feedback on placing actuarial students in non-traditional business summer jobs. At the end of the summer, they preferred going into traditional actuarial jobs rather than be pathfinders. Make a young person commit him- or herself to the profession by taking a series of difficult exams and then be surprised when he or she remains committed. Not. Surprised. One. Little. Bitty. Bit.

Fifth, the IAA still plugs along with respect to the syllabus and what the heck it means. It’s clear that certain players and societies want to limit what an actuary is (because they love exams long time) but there are other more national actuarial associations that, let us say, still believe in countries having independence from global overlords imposing one-size-fits-all rules on all. Another of my mottos is: It’s Never Too Late for Flags. Watch the Steve McQueen movie The Sand Pebbles for a fictional demonstration. 

Sixth, there was a report on the continued rollout of the Actuaries’ Climate Index and Actuaries’ Climate Research Index. Fortunately the weather, which was colder and wetter than usual for this time of year in Virginia, did not dampen our spirits.

There were other discussions of a more confidential nature toward commonality of interests that it would not be prudent to discuss in a newsletter. Let’s just say that a major lesson of my term of office is that “Plan A” never seems to work and “Plan B” always takes more time and effort.