The Gifts and Responsibilities of Age

My wife and I watched Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner recently. The movie features John Prentice (Sidney Poitier), a successful, 30-something Black doctor, and Joey Drayton (Katharine Houghton), the 23-year-old white daughter of Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy), a newspaper publisher, and Christina Drayton (Katharine Hepburn). John and Joey met in Hawaii and over the course of two weeks they fell … Read More

Communicating the Unknown

Randy Ratesetter came into Sheila Savvy’s office. Randy was relatively new, having joined Virtual Consulting three years ago. “Brigadoon Health Plan wants us to tell them how much the Pitchfork Virus will increase their costs. I told them that because it’s so new, we may not be able to do that, but I’d do some checking.” Sheila sighed. “It’s good … Read More

Looking for Truth in Shades of Gray

I am fascinated by the old movies that have been “colorized”—teasing out the real colors from the slight variations in gray used throughout the film. Who would have imagined that you can now watch Casablanca in full color rather than black-and-white! Although it may be anathema to cinematic “purists,” colorizing old movies is welcomed by many because of the sense … Read More

Actuarial Assumptions

Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” yet that is the essence of an actuary’s work. The bases of an actuarial analysis are the assumptions and the values selected for these assumptions. All actuaries realize that any assumption made about the future could ultimately prove to be incorrect. However, it is not possible to proceed … Read More

Precept 11—Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

Every Precept of the Code of Professional Conduct (the Code) is considered essential in meeting our responsibility to the public in support of our profession. We rarely highlight Precept 11, Advertising. While infrequent, complaints alleging violations of Precept 11 usually present challenging issues for consideration. Precept 11 provides that: An Actuary shall not engage in any advertising or business solicitation … Read More

Getting Political—Can an Actuary Weigh In on Thorny Issues?

It’s still a long time until the November 2020 elections, and we can expect a lot of political news before we reach the day itself. Health care, pensions, social insurance programs, and other issues of interest to actuaries will be discussed by politicians and reported on by the media. Politicians and pundits alike will be advocating for certain positions, and … Read More

The ABCD Goes to the Movies

Portrayals on stage or screen of actuaries often attract a lot of interest within the profession. Many will remember the 2002 film About Schmidt (loosely based on a 1996 novel of the same name that was not about an actuary). Many of us are also familiar with the 1976 BBC film Billion Dollar Bubble, which is based on a true … Read More

Exercising Professional Judgment in a Self-Regulated Profession

What is a profession? The Oxford Dictionary defines the word in part as “a paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification.” The attributes of a profession, as broadly recognized in the United States, often include the following: (1) a formal educational system; (2) a national association; (3) a code of professional ethics; (4) public respect … Read More

Communicating Clearly With ASOP No. 41

Actuaries frequently go on ad infinitum over assumptions, methods, data, and other actuarial considerations. However, we should be just as concerned over how we communicate our results and these considerations to our intended audience and others. The immediacy of electronic communication has made it easier to communicate but probably harder to properly provide an actuarial communication. Let us see the … Read More

Feeling Conflicted? The Code Can Help

One important concept in the Code of Professional Conduct that guides members of the U.S. actuarial organizations is that of a conflict of interest. It is addressed by precepts 6 and 7. However, these precepts seem to presuppose that everyone knows what a conflict of interest is. This article explores what may, and what may not, be a conflict of … Read More