The actuarial profession in North America has a long tradition of what one might call internal volunteer service – that is, actuaries giving back to their profession by participating on a variety of professional committees. As an example, the examinations that one needs to take in order to become an fully-credentialed actuary (or “Fellow”) are all constructed and graded by volunteer committees comprised primarily of actuaries working in industry.
Throughout my career, service to the actuarial profession has been something I’ve embraced, and doing so has enriched my life both professionally and personally.
For most freshly-minted actuaries, the “gateway” form of service to the profession is through the education & examination process. Not so for me; I have never actually served in that capacity. Instead, partly as a byproduct of my role at the time (working for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association), I got involved in the public policy activities of the American Academy of Actuaries right around the time I become a Fellow.
As such, from about 2001 through 2005 I was involved in numerous work groups and task forces of the Academy, primarily on topics relating to health insurance financial regulation. As time progressed, I was offered opportunities to serve in leadership roles, most notably as the chair first of the Academy’s Health Practice Financial Reporting Committee, and then later of the Academy’s more general Financial Reporting Committee (discussing matters of interest to practitioners in multiple areas). During the early 2000s I also had the pleasure of being asked to stand for election to the Society of Actuaries’ Health Section Council, and then to my utter surprise winning one of three available seats with (as I recall) ten people on the ballot, all of which were older and more experienced than me.
The surprises continued in 2006 when the Academy’s Nominating Committee decided to “appoint” me (technically there was an election, but it was uncontested) to a 3-year term on the Academy’s Board of Directors. I rather suspect, but cannot prove, that at 35 I may have been the youngest person ever to serve on the Academy Board.
In early 2010, the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (later, the ACA or “Obamacare”) led to a mass mobilization of actuarial resources, under the auspices of the Academy, in order to help provide non-partisan technical input to the development of regulations implementing the ACA. I was asked by the Academy to chair the Medical Loss Ratio Regulation Work Group, relating to the ACA’s MLR-based rebate provisions. That turned out to be a very demanding and visible role. I remain immensely proud of the 45-page letter that our work group put together, in a matter of weeks, in response to the federal government’s initial request for information. That document turned out to be only one of many letters that went out under my signature as chair of the work group during a very hectic spring, summer, and fall.
Later in 2010, I received news that I was to be awarded the Academy’s Jarvis Farley Service Award that fall. The citation called out my work on the MLR regulations, as well as my work chairing the Financial Reporting Committee. While I was immensely honored to have won the award, I was also gobsmacked: The Farley Award was generally viewed as a lifetime achievement award, and here I was not yet 40, and without a doubt far and away its youngest-ever recipient.
In the early 2010s I needed to turn down some opportunities to get more intensely involved in the governance structure of the Academy, in light of my work obligations. Instead, in 2013 I turned my attention back towards the Society, successfully running for a 3-year term on the Society’s Board. I ran more or less on a whim, but doing so turned out to have profound ramifications on my life. Shortly after joining the Board, I was asked to be the Board’s liaison to the Health Section Council. In that role I met Andie Christopherson, who was the Council’s vice-chair at that time. By the time my 3-year Board term would end in late 2016, Andie and I were newly married, and my wife was one of the incoming class of Board members replacing my class!
At the present time, my main vehicle for serving the profession is the International Actuarial Association. I started attending IAA meetings in 2015, having been named by the Academy as its delegate to the IAA’s Insurance Accounting Education & Practice Subcommittee. This Subcommittee is presently drafting a number of International Actuarial Notes relating to IFRS 17, the long-awaited outgrowth issued in 2017 of the IASB’s Insurance Contracts Project.