President’s Message DAvE SAnDBERg
What Future Lies Ahead?
AS i TAkE On My pRESiDEnTiAL DuTiES, i want to particularly thank volunteers such as Michael
Abroe, winner of the 2011 Jarvis Farley Service Award, Mary Downey Miller, who is the recipient of the 2011
Robert J. Myers Award for public Service, and Steve Alpert, Arnold Dicke, and Stuart Mathewson, who are the
inaugural recipients of the Academy’s new Outstanding volunteerism awards.
It’s interesting that at a recent
meeting of the North American Ac-
tuarial Council, which consists of the
leadership of all the U.S., Canadian,
and Mexican actuarial organizations,
representatives from every group iden-
tified the need for more of these soft
skills as a way to boost the value of our
professional brand. We need to get bet-
ter at framing the problem (asking, for
instance, what the question is) as well
as providing a solution. And we need to
talk clearly to non-actuaries and to one
another, strengthening our profession
by building a stronger community within it.
They are examples of why, as a profession, we are well-respected and valued in the public and private sectors. But
we can do more to realize our professional vision and mission.
Thus, I hope that you, like me, didn’t become an actuary in order to become complacent!
During my term as president, I want to strengthen our
ability as a profession to ask effective questions of ourselves.
While most actuaries are paid to provide the right answers,
our success as a profession will lie in our ability to ask the better
questions. Choosing powerful, effective questions is an impor-
tant tool for managing the future.
As actuaries we deal with four basic questions:
■ ■ How much is needed to fund a promise?
■ ■ How the management of a promise should be reported to
■ ■ What promises can and should be sold?
■ ■ How should society offer these promises, and who
should regulate them?
■ ■ What is the appropriate governance structure for the
academy, and for the profession? I have taken the first steps
this past year to apply enterprise risk management (ERM) tools
to consider the risks and opportunities of our profession. While
ERM traditionally focuses on the R (metrics and processes to
manage financial risk), my focus has been on the M (managing
mission and objectives). The Academy board this year will thus
assess the work of the various practice councils as they execute
the Academy’s strategic plan. ERM is not just a practice for
actuaries to recommend to firms and clients. It can be an integral
part of how we manage ourselves to improve transparency and
■ ■ What value does the academy provide to its mem-
bers? Much of the Academy’s work occurs behind the scenes,
as was the case with our advisory role in health care reform.
What if we empowered our members to speak more
succinctly, both publicly and privately, to the essential elements
needed for a pooled risk system—whether for private and public
pensions, health care, insurance, or other guaranteed programs? We
don’t need to rely on just a dozen or so experts in these topic areas.
I want all Academy members to be em-
powered with concise statements and an
understanding of the core actuarial issues.
■ ■ are we prepared to address the
future? The future holds two loom-
ing challenges: health care and
retirement care. Our success in framing
better questions will enhance our ef-
fectiveness in building and maintaining
sustainable programs of pooled risk.
As your president, I want to en-
sure that we—all of us, not just
organizational and/or corporate
leadership—ask better questions.
This will help the Academy’s dedi-
cated cadre of volunteers apply the
best of their actuarial talent, unique
skills, and experience in service to
the public interest.
The first two questions often result in rules and calculations (and work for which we get paid). The second two are
focused more on processes and ensuring that we have adequate
feedback to manage future risk. They offer value-added opportunities for our profession. But they also require us to employ
skills of discernment and inclusive dialogue.
The Academy has been a great avenue to develop my leadership and communications abilities. Through its work on public
policy and professionalism issues that
affect U.S. actuaries, the Academy offers volunteers an effective laboratory
in which to develop and hone these
important soft skills.