The 2023 International Congress of Actuaries (ICA2023) brought together industry leaders and actuaries worldwide to explore the challenges and opportunities for actuaries.
Over the years, SAS has emerged as a variance and regression analysis software, revolutionising the actuarial field. Since then, it has evolved into SAS Viya 4.0, a cloud-native analytics and machine learning platform offering many solutions. However, despite these advancements, many organisations grapple with outdated technology. This raises an important question: Is outdated technology hindering progress or is it more about how people work and adapt to technology? Uncovering the answer to this dilemma is important for unleashing the full potential of actuaries.
From the ICA2023 sessions, several key takeaways emerged, emphasising the importance of driving transformation and embracing change.
1. Driving change: A call from Dame Inga Beale
When I joined the ICA2023 sessions by watching video recordings, Dame Inga Beale, Portfolio Director and former CEO of Lloyd’s, an insurance company, gave an opening keynote titled ‘Ring the Bell Twice for Change.’ She told stories from her more than 40 years of experience in insurance. Her keynote dispelled the notion that technology alone hinders progress, remarking, “It’s not the technology. The technology is almost the easy piece these days,” Beale said. “The toughest thing is changing how people work, their behaviours, their cultures.” This thought-provoking perspective echoed my conversation with Elayne Grace, CEO of the Actuaries Institute Australia, when she visited the SAS booth at the exhibition centre. I shared my experience of the countless times we saw actuaries reluctant to drive the changes but rather waiting for decisions to be made by c-suite executives. “Exactly,” Elayne said, “Actuaries need to adapt. We don’t want to be roadblocks.”
2. A profession in transformation
ICA2023 highlighted the need for actuaries to expand their strategic perspective and focus on generating insights and value. As Caroline Bennet and Darryl Wagner, Deloitte partners, emphasised, the actuary profession must evolve to avoid becoming irrelevant. While actuaries are often seen as expensive investments, they possess unique skills and expertise. They are pivotal in guiding businesses by providing valuable insights, combining technical capacity, actuarial judgment, business acumen, leadership and influencing skills. Actuaries must connect the dots along the value chain to drive outcome analytics, where human expertise and AI-powered analytics work together synergistically.
3. The importance of human and AI synergy
Reflecting on my decade-long experience in academia, insurance organisations, consultancies and technology organisations, I wondered about the factors driving actuarial success. Is it model development and analytics capabilities? While data scientists working with AutoML embedded in SAS solutions offer impressive capabilities, the true power lies elsewhere. Is it the oversight of the risk differentiation capabilities of the models? Model management tools with built-in KPI alerts already cater to these needs. Or is it the extraction of rating tables for pricing implementation and delivery? With automated rating deployment and transparent algorithms, the process has become more streamlined than ever before.
The answer became apparent through the wisdom shared by brilliant speakers at ICA2023 and insights from ChatGPT. Wade Tubman, head of Innovation and Analytics at CommBank IQ, asked, ChatGPT said: “A combination of human expertise and AI-powered analytics often yields the best results, with humans guiding the process, interpreting the results and making the informed decisions based on the analytical insights provided by AI systems.” This realisation aligns with the pillars emphasized by Caroline Bennet and Darryl Wagner at ICA2023: technical capacity, actuarial judgment and business acumen, and leadership and influencing skills. Actuaries armed with these pillars hold the key to unlocking the true potential of their profession.
And now is the most challenging part. Are you ready to change? Are you geared up to drive the changes needed to transform into a better future? Actuaries are not just passive observers of technological advancements; they are actively driving change and embracing the transformative power of AI. ICA2023 provided a roadmap and inspiration for actuaries to embark on that journey. Actuaries should continue to adapt work culture, expand strategic perspectives and use the synergy between human expertise and AI-powered analytics to their advantage.