As many of you will know there has been a proposed combination of the casualty and life actuarial societies, the CAS and SOA. This isn’t the first time such a combination has been proposed but it might be the most serious attempt.
You can see details of the proposal here. During the week of November 12th, the CAS and the SOA boards will vote on whether to present the question to their respective memberships.
How do Actuaries feel about this? If you have an opinion I’d love to hear it on the first ever Not Unreasonable call-in show being held on Thursday Nov 8th at 8pm.
The Not Unreasonable Actuarial Merger Livestream
When is the cast? Thursday, Nov 8th. 8pm EST until I run out of callers or fall asleep.
How do I join? Call in! (646) 960-3562
Where can I watch? Click here to watch!
What is the proposal? You can see the latest details at strongerasone.net. In particular there’s a very thorough FAQ section. Here’s the infographic of the organizational structure, which says quite a lot.
On Arguing Against:
Here’s a common argument I’ve head against the merger of the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries (from CAS members): the Society of Actuaries has declared war and are trying to just take us over. They’ve been at it for decades and this is about power struggle and megalomania and watering down the FCAS standard by uncaring outsiders.
I say judging motives is a distraction. Even if there were villainous factions within the SOA that dream such things, it just doesn’t matter.
The most productive historical context for evaluating this question is that M& has been the default strategic question for mature organizations for a century or more. Greater scale allows for specialization and professionalization of operations. The marketplace tells us that bigger companies often work better, so we should consider the merits of why this is the case, regardless of the history of this particular debate.
On Arguing For:
Here’s an argument I’ve heard a few times for the merger is that actuaries are under threat from “Data Scientists” and merging societies can help turn the tide. Without detail I don’t like this argument. Data Scientists are very similar to actuaries in that they use mathematical modeling and domain knowledge to solve forecasting problems. The differences between us and them are 1) the actuarial society and 2) the code of conduct.
Great, but the thing is that we already have those things and, if the narrative is to be believed, we losing with those things! A merger doubles down on those features by making the actuarial society more complex and all-encompasing. Are we expecting a different result from more of the same process?
My Favorite Argument Against:
Here is the best argument I can think of AGAINST the merger of the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries: larger communities are less engaged and more poorly governed.
The Casualty Actuarial Society community is awesome. We go through a horrible process which bonds us together and secures the quality of our reputation. This true of the SOA, too. That doesn’t mean they should join!
If size was our goal it would be relatively easy to allow more actuaries into the profession by diluting the screening process. That what we haven’t done that implies that size is NOT our goal. Does size at the cost of a more distant leadership make sense, too? We have a tight and proud community, we function well enough to maintain the status of our profession, while other credentials are diluted from grade inflation and poor governance.
Above all we are autonomous in an age where large polities are dissatisfied with macro direction in our society. Why would we give that up? No strategic goals I’ve heard discussed can’t be pursued by an independent CAS.
My Favorite Argument For:
Here is best argument I can think of FOR combining the actuarial societies (I first heard a version of this from Don Mango): the outside world already thinks we’re the same.
At first this doesn’t sound all that important, why should we care that they think? *Actuaries* know different actuaries are different and *actuaries* are being asked to decide this for themselves. But I think that this argument is profound because.. well, what if they’re right?
What if the dividing line between P&C actuaries and non-P&C actuaries is arbitrary and meaningless? Maybe there isn’t something special about the bundle of capabilities in the P&C tent.
To non-actuaries we’re indistinguishable and maybe forcing students and other stakeholders to understand our needlessly complicated labeling system hurts the reputation of the profession, making us seem overly fussy and pedantic. Reputations matter. The status of the profession encourages high quality people to join up and helps assure our position when outsiders come to run the companies we work for. The world doesn’t owe actuaries anything and we need to pay attention to what the world thinks of us.