SOA Strategic Planning – Mission and Vision Poll Result

 by Emily Kessler, FSA, EA, FCA, MAAA
SOA Senior Fellow – Intellectual Capital

 

We’re now in phase two of the Society of Actuaries (SOA) Strategic Plan development process.  Our Strategic Planning Task Force is asking members questions to hone the mission and vision statements.  A mission statement describes “who” an organization is and a vision statement describes “what” the organization wants to accomplish over the course of the Strategic Plan.  The SOA Board of Directors uses its Strategic Plan to guide its work on behalf of members, candidates and other stakeholders.

If you need to catch up on the development process:

  • Read the earlier blog post on the development process. Strategic Planning Task Force Chair Bob Stein, FSA, and SOA staff have presented results from the environmental observations and key themes of the emerging plan, to the SOA Board of Directors, key volunteer leaders, and the Employer’s Council.  Each group provided valuable feedback that we are incorporating into the new strategic plan. 
  • View the slide show summarizing the environmental observations, which is a companion piece to the earlier blog post.

One key theme emerging in the development of the Strategic Plan is the need to work to ensure actuaries remain essential – both as individuals in their careers and as a profession.  Based on the Strategic Planning Task Force’s work, the key to building value for the actuarial profession is for it to provide insight on issues of significant social relevance.  The key to individuals being vital in their careers is related to their job functions.

The first poll question asked “What makes an individual actuary vital in his or her job?”  Respondents allocated 100 points across four categories:

  • Up-to-date knowledge of the latest models and techniques
  • Up-to-date knowledge of the latest regulations
  • Ability to develop clear, concise and decisive recommendations
  • Knowledge of the global business context and how the marketplace is evolving

We did not send the survey to every members’ e-mail, and instead promoted it through SOA News Weekly and SOA.org.  As our first poll, and without direct distribution, we didn’t get as many responses as we’d like to have for it (fewer than 100).   If you want to provide input on this question, please provide comments to this blog post.

The four categories represent what the Strategic Planning Task Force heard about the actuarial skill set as it listened to members, candidates, volunteers and business leaders last summer:

  • In the member panel survey, the top two choices for the most important trends driving the profession were big data/data analytics/predictive modeling (57 percent choosing) and increasing effect of regulation on actuaries (50 percent choosing). During interviews, actuaries and business leaders raised concerns about actuaries losing ground in big data and data analytics to other professionals.
  • Actuaries must put their recommendations and solutions, and make sure those solutions recognize the business context, often considering the global business environment.
  • Finally, the best insights cannot be used if they’re not well communicated. Business leaders expressed their frustration to the Strategic Planning Task Force that they often have to “pull” results from their actuaries; they reported that their actuaries don’t do well in proactively communicating the results of the analysis and put them into the proper business context.

What did our poll respondents say?  While it’s not a statistically significant result, the respondents said “the ability to develop clear, concise and decisive recommendations” was the most important factor, by a margin of 2-1 over the other objectives.  Respondents essentially evenly weighted the other objectives (up-to-date knowledge of models and techniques, up-to-date knowledge of the latest regulations, and knowledge of global business context and how the marketplace is evolving).

The emerging Strategic Plan considers the development of clear, concise and decisive recommendations as key to actuaries’ success in their careers.  The Strategic Planning Task Force’s emerging vision for the SOA is to develop actuaries who can develop recommendations that combine an understanding built from analysis with an understanding of the business context to create solutions for  complex financial issues.   The other categories – knowledge of models and techniques, knowledge of regulations, and understanding the business context, including the global business context – are foundational knowledge that actuaries use in developing these recommendations.

Thank you to everyone who responded to the first poll. Stay tuned for the results of the second poll, which asked how the profession can continue to be relevant over the next 20 years.  We would like to hear what you have to say. Please share comments through this blog post or email ekessler@soa.org.

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