As opportunities for actuaries have grown over the last two decades, offerings in the field at WPI have expanded in response, increasing from a handful of graduates going into the actuarial profession 15 years ago to nearly 20 a year currently.
On Monday, Jan. 23, Jeremy Brown, recently named president of the Society of Actuaries (SOA), will be on campus to share his observations on the challenges and opportunities facing the actuarial profession. The event will take place in the Rubin Campus Center from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
The social and professional gathering of WPI alumni actuaries, and other actuaries in the New England area, is a chance to meet and mingle with others in the field, said event organizer and WPI professor of practice Jon Abraham.
During a recent interview, Abraham, a former insurance company actuary, explained how the actuarial profession has changed over the years.
"The demand for actuaries is strong, and the outlook is pretty good, especially for students who can demonstrate the multiple skills companies are looking for," Abraham says. "Companies are looking for a high GPA to reflect academic ability and drive, passing several of the preliminary actuarial exams to demonstrate an ability to make it through the exam process, along with good people skills, leadership potential, time management, and problem-solving abilities."
WPI graduates who exhibit those skills, he says, work primarily for insurers and consulting firms in the New England area, setting the prices for insurance products and conducting financial management of the business, often branching into nontraditional areas of insurance for actuaries, such as claims management, underwriting, and even sales.
"The ability to see the big picture and be excellent problem solvers makes our students valuable in a variety of jobs," he says.
Abraham was hired by WPI 10 years ago to build the university's actuarial mathematics program.
“When I arrived at WPI, we were graduating only four or five students a year in the actuarial major. Now, the program has grown to a point where we are graduating 15 to 20 students per year,” he points out. "Actuaries must take a series of professional qualifying exams to become accredited. There are about five preliminary exams and another five exams specific to one's area of practice. A good actuarial program will have classes covering all the material on the preliminary exams and students are expected to pass two to three of those exams while still in college. Our program covers all the preliminary exams."
"The ability to see the big picture and be excellent problem solvers makes our students valuable in a variety of jobs." -Jon Abraham
Incoming SOA president Brown, who majored in mathematics, did not have those opportunities on campus in the '70s. He will serve as the 68th president for the SOA, an educational, research, and professional organization dedicated to serving the public, its members, and its candidates, with a mission to advance actuarial knowledge and to enhance the ability of actuaries to provide expert advice and relevant solutions for financial, business, and societal problems.
A resident of Mt. Kisco, N.Y., Brown worked as an actuary for 39 years before retiring earlier this year as Mutual of America Life Insurance Co.'s executive vice president and chief actuary. A member of the SOA board, he has held several volunteer positions, including board partner for education, chair of the Professionalism Education Management Committee, member of the Learning Strategies Task Force, member of the Education Executive Group, and facilitator of SOA Professionalism courses. He was course director for more than 30 fellowship admissions courses for the SOA. He was a volunteer for the American Academy of Actuaries and the Actuarial Standards Board Life and General Operating Committees.
WPI will also host a number of local companies at the Jan. 23 event, Abraham says.
"We've worked for over a decade making connections with local companies," he says. "The event will help strengthen those connections to WPI with companies; also, getting them to come to campus will create good memories—helping them remember us and, hopefully, hire more of our students."
If interested in attending the event, email Abraham by Jan. 19.
- By Paula Owen