especially those who teach or advise in recognized college-level
actuarial programs, would want FEM to take hold (and take hold
quickly) because it provides a further marketing advantage to
those select schools able to offer this. But that’s not necessarily the
case. After all, some academics (like me) fear there will be inequities, despite efforts to avoid them with stated learning objectives,
approved materials, high passing thresholds, and annual audits
(all part of the FEM proposal), and no matter how stringent the
accreditation process for the schools themselves. But I offer just
one opinion. There are many who disagree with me and believe
that such a plan will offer a “high-quality alternative,” and perhaps
they’re right. Perhaps not.
Historically, SOA members have leaned toward the belief that
inequities will result. I have the same fear. After all, even within one
school offering two sections of a single class, there are differences
in content and grading. How to solve that problem on a much larger
scale is even more difficult. It will certainly not be easy, and while
other actuarial organizations may be willing to try it, for the sake of
the integrity of the actuarial process, I believe that most members
of the SOA don’t think it’s worth taking the chance. As it happens,
a number of my current students agree with them (see Page 30).
a Personal Perspective
What are the answers, then, to these all-important questions for
prospective actuaries? Where should one attend school if one wants
to be an actuary? And what is the best way for someone to complete
the training and examination process required for a professional
Invariably, it depends on who you ask.
One last thing that you may be wondering as you read this: What
route have those who’ve entered the profession actually taken?
From a historical perspective, how many have taken the specific
actuarial science program road? How many have traveled the more
general math degree approach? And how many, if any, have come
by way of the presumably far less traveled English/history/phi-losophy curriculum?
Sorry to say, I don’t know. I wish I did. But here’s some good
news. I’m now in a position where research is encouraged. Given my
new seat here in UConn’s old Math and Science Building, I can take
some time to find out. With no more ongoing product development
or financial reporting worries or deadlines, no more once-a-week
staff meetings, and no more monthly variance explanations for management, I can take some time to ferret out the “I sure wish I knew”
answers to what are, admittedly, less than earth-shattering questions. Why, it’s almost like being back in college. Ah, the world of
academia. What was I thinking all those years ago? Oh, yes, now
I remember. Teachers don’t get paid that much. Maybe so, but on
second thought, it’s enough.
micHAel m. BrAunstein, an associate of the Society of
Actuaries and a member of the Academy, is the assistant director
of the Actuarial Science Program at the university of Connecticut
in Storrs, Conn. He can be reached by e-mail at Braunstein@math.
This article is solely the opinion of its author. It does not express the official policy
of the American Academy of Actuaries; nor does it necessarily reflect the opinions
of the Academy’s individual officers, members, or staff.
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