What Is Your Employer Thinking?

Employers are one of the stakeholders in the SOA’s Strategic Plan, and it is our goal to supply them with highly qualified experts relevant to their needs.

The SOA formed an Employers Council in 2009 which meets (either face-to-face or via conference call) three times annually. Council members bring a variety of perspectives, including life and health insurers, benefits consulting, executive search/recruitment, and non-actuarial business leaders from financial services and enterprise risk management.

The Employers Council provides the SOA with insight on:

  • Current and future business trends, issues and challenges
  • Employers’ hiring and staff development needs, preferences and practices
  • Business needs for research and other forms of intellectual capital development in risk related areas, and
  • The market relevance of SOA products and services

In mid-December we had our third meeting. Council members met with SOA leaders and staff to talk about how the SOA can better serve employers’ needs in the areas of knowledge development and talent management.

The council was extremely engaged and involved. In fact I’d say, they challenged the profession to be more communicative, assertive and visible. Here are a few of my personal observations from the meeting:

  • Employers want the profession to be more visible outside of our traditional areas, which is something we will continue to develop in 2010.
  • They place a high value on experience studies, and there is the potential for their use to grow in importance.
  • Some employers realize the benefits of volunteerism, and others aren’t quite there yet—this is important for a member-driven organization.
  • They see opportunity in broader roles outside of traditional actuarial roles by building on skills actuaries use now, which includes adopting new technical skills and also developing more general business and communication skills.
  • Council members indicated that they would like to be more involved, which is a great indicator of their support of the profession.

This meeting greatly exceeded my expectations. I am looking forward to our 2010 meetings and learning how we can better serve our employer audience—and ultimately grow the demand for actuaries. I feel that these conversations are vital to the long-term success of our profession.

I would like to conclude with a question:

What would you like employers to know about the actuarial profession—or vice versa, what would you like to know more about from employers? I invite you to post your responses below.

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4 responses to "What Is Your Employer Thinking?"

  • Mary Pat Campbell says:

    Re: expanding the actuarial profession beyond the traditional boundaries — good that they’re on board with that, but wondering if they had any ideas about the best ways to go about that. I assume they have some thoughts on that beyond some of the SOA marketing push we’ve had over the last few years.

    Re: volunteerism. Again, understand the differences in attitude – for those who do not support employee involvement in SOA [whether just plain apathy or outright hostility – I’ve heard of both], what would they see as volunteer activities that would add value to them as employers?

    Re: getting more involved — what specifically did they say they wanted to get more involved in [and why aren’t they doing it already]?

    With those last two items, the SOA has lots of different ways to get involved, so even if employers aren’t keen on employees being on exam committees, say, they might see value from employees being involved in particular sections or research projects. Just curious what specific activities the employers find valuable and which they think is a waste of time and resources.

  • Mary Pat Campbell says:

    Also, concerning my “why aren’t they doing it already?” remark, that’s not a judgment but really wanting to know what they’ve seen as obstacles to their involvement.

    It could be, for example, that the opportunities they know about, they don’t find relevant to their concerns. It could be that the various opportunities of involvement are seen as inconvenient re: the business cycle. It could be something else entirely.

  • Mike McLaughlin says:

    These are good questions. While I don’t have all the answers, I know that to expand the profession we need to go beyond marketing. Employers say they need not only professional credentials such as the CERA, but also industry experience. I’d like to get our CERAs working in new industries, with the help of current and future employers, so the Employers Council will help with that. I’d also like to attract people already working in new industries to become CERAs. That’s a bit of a dream at the moment. I’m looking at multiple ways to achieve this, through marketing, through the council, and by asking our members for their ideas!

    Now that Employers Council members have been involved for about a year, they also have expressed keen interest in becoming involved in projects—in some cases, I would consider them shifting from ”advisors” to ”advocates.” We look for Council members to share their areas of expertise. It’s up to us within the SOA leadership, membership and staff, to take advantage of this amazing offer by employers, to help more.

    With regard to volunteerism, employers’ attitudes seem to vary widely. Some are looking for employees to participate in opportunities that will demonstrate critical business skills, such as the ability to communicate effectively, the ability to motivate and lead others and to learn how to build consensus. Volunteering is an excellent way to build these skills. Other employers see only the price tag in volunteering. We need to communicate and persuade them of the enormous value inuring to their employees, and ultimately to them.

    Please forgive my tardy response! I’ll do better next time.

  • Vicki Choi says:

    In order for our profession to become more visible outside of our traditional areas, we need to expose ourselves in the public, strengthen the bonds among the actuarial fields and connect with other professional groups.

    We should start this by encouraging the young actuaries (especially those who work in non-consulting world) to be creative, develop a second non-actuarial interest and break themselves out of their own “actuarial world”. This way, they can be aware of the trends and needs in the business world while keeping an eye to the undefined market.

    Hopefully, one day, the public would remind of FSA when they involve in any measurable risk issues, just like CPA for accounting, and CFA (or CFP) for financial planning.

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