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When college students, regardless of their chosen major, ask for advice on how to cope with the changing job market, “Communication skills are critical,” is what they’ll hear. We can perform complex regressions on personal computers and use presentation software to create slides, or we can build software programs designed to take an actuarial loss triangle and, with the press of a button, create a set of loss development exhibits… but someone has to explain all of this.
Pinnacle held its fourth annual Pinnacle U event on March 31st. The program pairs up eight Illinois State University (ISU) students with Pinnacle Actuarial Analysts and together they create a presentation on a topic of actuarial interest before presenting it to an audience of experienced actuaries. Dr. Krzysztof Ostazewski, FSA, CERA, FSAS, CFA, MAAA heads the actuarial science program at ISU, and together we have created this opportunity to provide both real-world presentation experience to students and leadership skills training to Pinnacle’s Actuarial Analysts.
I can’t think of a better way for a young actuary to learn the process of explaining challenging concepts than to task him or her with training a college student to give a professional-level presentation. For example, one of our groups did an overview of warranty and extended service contracts, coupled with the basics of calculating rates and reserves. The presenters explained the fundamentals of extended service contracts, how to create and test non-linear premium emergence patterns and a Bornhuetter-Ferguson type approach to selecting ultimate losses. The audience consisted of numerous credentialed actuaries, Actuarial Analysts, aspiring college students and professors from ISU and Bradley University.
Several of the topics presented, such as, “High Risk: The Impact of Marijuana Legalization on Insurance,” were so well-researched that we had to assist the presenters in refining their slides to stay within the allotted time. After watching their presentation, I believe it could be used in a professional meeting with only minor edits.
We know that technology will continue to impact the job market, rendering some tasks easier and some obsolete. I have faith that actuaries won’t go the way of the rotary-style phone and roll-up car window. Sure, we have some great automated tools and many more being designed. But whether actuarial work is being done by man or machine, human beings will still need to explain the results. We have met tomorrow’s leaders, and they are among us.
Erich Brandt is a Consulting Actuary with Pinnacle Actuarial Resources, Inc. in the Bloomington, Illinois office. He has over 20 years of experience in assignments
involving loss reserving, funding studies, cost allocation mechanisms, loss cost
projections, competitive analysis, captive feasibility studies, personal lines ratemaking
and financial analysis of insurance companies. Erich is a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA) and a member of the CAS Examination Committee.
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