5 ways actuaries can prep for digital disruption

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The actuarial profession is one that may see some of the greatest impact from the digital insurance wave. A skill unique to insurance alone, actuaries back up any and all transactions with the numbers that assure the risk is within acceptable ranges.

Increasing adoption of digital processes, artificial intelligence and machine learning is opening up new opportunities and vistas for the profession, a recent report from Deloitte asserts. Actuaries are evolving from number-crunchers to strategic decision makers for their businesses. The report’s authors call this new role that of “exponential actuary.” This emerging role “will leverage the power of automation to move beyond the role of data steward and model builder. Actuaries have the opportunity to spend more time as business strategists and offer critical voices on C‑suite issues.”

Technology is changing the job of the actuary first by relieving them of burdens associated with data gathering and preparation, the report states. “Technologies efficiently prepare data for analysis, including finding, cleaning, organizing, and parsing data. Actuaries will spend less time on these manual process tasks and more time generating insights that drive business performance.” In addition, actuaries will be able to spend less time immersed in calculations, leaving much of that to machines. Finally, today’s technologies “can automate actuarial reporting based on rule sets, machine learning, and natural language generation capabilities.” Actuaries will then be able to spend more time and energy on “fine‑turning reports, developing insights from data, and communicating these insights to business leaders.”

To make the transition to exponential actuary, the report’s authors urge the following proactive steps to prepare:

  • Build business skills among actuarial teams: “Learning about a range of functions and business areas can enable actuaries to find new applications for their technical skills. Rotations and cross‑training, cross‑functional collaborations, and simple conversations can help actuaries understand the wider business landscape.”
  • Focus on higher value‑added tasks: “The future of actuarial work will be the activities that add value beyond data computations and other automatable tasks, such as developing new insights, informing strategic decisions, and communicating with a diverse set of leaders and teams.”
  • Develop new skills and trainings: “Many actuaries will need to learn new skills and capabilities before they can effectively perform higher value activities. This requires learning technology skills outside of traditional actuarial software platforms. Organizations can work internally or with external vendors to equip their actuarial teams for the new demands and opportunities of the profession.”
  • Build C‑suite consensus on actuaries’ potential: “A chief actuary can demonstrate leadership and build support for modernizing actuarial processes. Many CEOs and CFOs already believe that actuarial functions can provide greater strategic value, but need help implementing the operational changes to deliver on this potential.”
  • Rethink processes and delivery approaches: “Organizations can develop and adopt a strategic future‑state vision and roadmap. This will help produce integrated and collaborative solutions that work across the business, including IT, finance, and actuarial teams.”
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Big data Analytics Deloitte