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SOA Staff Actuary Profile: James Miles

JimMiles Name: James Miles

Professional Designations: FSA, MAAA. I have also earned the FLMI and CPCU designations.

Title: Consulting Staff Fellow, Individual Life & Annuity Solutions

How long have you been at the SOA?  About two years.

Why/How did you decide to become an actuary? I was an undergraduate mathematics major trying to leverage my book learning into a paying job. My advisor suggested that I look at actuarial science. After a few actuarial courses in graduate school and an observation that several companies were coming on campus each year to hire actuaries, I was convinced that being an actuary would be a good career choice for me.


What is your area of practice? Life insurance with an emphasis on financial reporting.

What are the biggest issues facing your area of practice right now?

1. The complexity of managing multiple accounting frameworks, while at the same time planning for and understanding the implications of the new accounting frameworks that are being developed and debated.

2. The current economic environment with low interest rates and market uncertainty.

How is the SOA helping to address those issues? The sections are grassroots voices of the SOA.

The sections are using their resources to create relevant meeting sessions, webcasts and research to help their members better understand and be prepared for the issues. The newly created Professional Development Committee is actively looking at ways to continue to improve and expand continuing education and its delivery, keeping it relevant and available to all members.

What do you like most about your job? Working with the great people at the SOA and the many dedicated SOA member volunteers. 

What advice would you offer to up-and-coming actuaries? Take every opportunity to improve your oral and written communication skills. There are only two tasks that I do as an actuary: communicating and preparing to communicate. I found that experiences outside of work prepared me the best to improve my communication skills: volunteer member on SOA examination committees, school board member, small group leader at church.

What is your favorite movie and why? Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies. The movie portrays in a pointed way that when I make little effort or no effort to improve my knowledge, skills or relationships, then each day in life is simply a repeat of the day before.

Anything else you’d like to add about yourself? Other than reminiscing about commutation functions, bicycling is my favorite pastime.

Now that I’ve had the opportunity to answer these questions, I would like ask one of my own: Actuaries are dealing with overwhelming flows of information–more complex requirements and regulations, and complicated products. The SOA is trying to help members deal with those demands but the delivery of education and services is heavily dependent on volunteers and volunteer time. Should the SOA hire additional full-time staff to reduce the load on the volunteers and to enable education and services to be developed  and delivered more quickly? Let me know what you think—share your ideas in the comments section below.

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