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Actuarial Hot Topics

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What are the actuarial hot topics for 2021? What are the research papers, academic projects and dissertations that are being pursued right now, and is the actuarial field ready to make the changes to respond to these hot trends?

Climate Change

Environmental risk, study of weather extremes and international catastrophe pooling, determining the role of anthropogenic climate change on human health outcomes, societal risk management for projected future changes in frequency, severity and variety of weather-related catastrophes and renewable energy are all actuarial hot topics driven by climate change and the research needed for an actuary to define risk accurately.

U.S. Population Measurement

The coronavirus pandemic is driving research on U.S. population mortality by age, sex, socioeconomic category and by race for obvious historical risk calculations but also for what it can tell us or prepare us for the next pandemic. The societal impact of our aging population both as impacted by Covid and for retirement and health solutions for mitigating risks are others actuarial hot topic. The impact of positivity on life expectancy was put forth as a topic of global interest to the Quora.com actuarial community by Jeanine Joy, an author of five books on the topic.

InsurTech

Carrie Kelley, FSA, and Kiki Wang, ACAS, from Willis Towers Watson published InsurTech: A Guide for the Actuarial Community on the Society of Actuaries website. They presented four actuarial hot topics:

  1. Technology in the life and health sectors including wearable and biometric devices, data intelligence on life and health records and the utilization of genetic data.
  2. The digitalization of the customer experience end-to-end from purchasing insurance, premium payments, claims filing and cross-selling, all online.
  3. The need for technology as well as actuaries that can use and understand that technology for implementing analytics. Allowing the management of data volume, quality and reliability, data capture and availability, infrastructure and date warehouse constraints, information service bottlenecks and data accessibility.
  4. The automation of everything from underwriting, claims, billing and internal processes.

Kelley and Wang go on to quote one of their survey respondents, “Our professional development is actuaries teaching other actuaries. The problem with that is, if you are behind as a profession, it’s hard to catch up. It would be great if the SOA could fund getting external experts who are not actuaries to drive continuing education for actuaries. That’s where the gap is right now. Get a data scientist to come, get someone in marketing.”

Software

Another respondent to the Willis Towers Watson research said, “Software needs to be a more core component of what we expect actuaries to be knowledgeable on.” Alexander Whedon on Quora.com said the Society of Actuaries is placing more emphasis on software proficiency particularly on R, SAS, SQL and Excel but actuarial software expertise needs to go further and deeper to include Scala, Moses, C++, Python, Java, MG-Alpha and/or GGY-Axis. Whedon goes on to say that proficiency in data science techniques as well as this type of software will allow actuaries to do tasks currently done through pre-composed algorithms.

Interested in hiring an actuary or making a change in your career to take advantage of some of these actuarial hot topics? Contact Smith Hanley Associates’ Executive Recruiter, Rory Hauser at rhauser@smithhanley.com.

 

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