What You Will Learn from the CAS Student Central Webinar Recording: Excel and R for Actuaries

A recording of the CAS Student Central Webinar: Excel and R for Actuaries is now available to watch in the Online Community! This one-hour webinar will introduce you to how actuaries use these programs to analyze data. You will find the software features demonstrated during the webinar beneficial as you start your upcoming internships and embark on your career. Early experience with the software will strengthen your resume and can provide you with a competitive advantage when applying to jobs.

What Is Covered?

Derek Wong, actuarial consultant at CNA Insurance, kicks off the webinar with a demonstration of Excel. As the industry standard for spreadsheets, this software is used to analyze and calculate data, as well as organize information and create exhibits. Derek uses a dataset containing statistics from the National Football League (NFL) to demonstrate how to use functions, data validation, pivot tables, filters, conditional formatting, as well as Look-Up, Index, and Match rules. He also briefly explains Visual Basics Application (VBA), a programming language that can be used to automate manual tasks within Excel. Knowledge of VBA is an excellent way to stand out at an organization during your early career!

Brian Fannin, chief actuary at the Redwoods Group, provides you with a brief introduction to R, a free software and language that is used by actuaries (and many other professionals) for statistical computing and data analysis. Brian uses the same NFL data to demonstrate how you will use R to explore data through numeric and statistical graphics, construct new data, and build models to help analyze and visualize the data.

How Can I Practice What I’ve Learned?

Excel2.JPGAfter the webinar, use the NFL data to test your knowledge of Excel with follow up problems that are posted in the Online Community Forum: Excel and R for Actuaries – Follow Up. The first 10 students to submit an answer to one or more of the problems will receive a CAS Student Central Tervis Tumbler! You can also use the forum to ask Derek and Brian questions about Excel, R, or the follow up problems.

You are encouraged to download R and R-Studio, a free tool that many actuaries use when working with R, and continue playing with the data. Brian also recommends visiting R-bloggers.com, which is a great source for news and tutorials on the software.

Finally – stay tuned to CAS Student Central! We will continue providing you with information and tutorials on key software packages that you will use in your future career.

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Career Path Perspectives: The Insurance Company Actuary

Over the next few months, Future Focus will publish a series of blog posts written by actuaries working in various fields of the actuarial profession. These blog posts will help inform you about different paths to consider as you prepare for your future career. Our first post is authored by Krista Robinson, FCAS, who provides her perspective on working as an actuary at an insurance company.  

Hello actuaries-to-be!  I’m Krista Robinson and will be giving my viewpoint of the actuarial profession from the perspective of a company actuary.  I have been at CNA Insurance for 9 years, coming here after graduating from Indiana University.  I’ve moved around to all different areas within CNA over those 9 years, and currently am working in General Liability pricing.  As you’re learning, when you decide to be an actuary you have a lot of different options for your career.  I personally think that being at an insurance company gives young actuaries an experience that is vital to your development.  When working directly for a company, you are fully engaged in their strategies at a high and low level, which gives you a great perspective on the big picture of the insurance industry.

An example of this is when working in a large account pricing area.  Large account pricing means that instead of using a rating plan for a certain state or group of people (like your personal auto insurance!), the individual account has enough claims in their past to come up with a premium using their experience specifically.  I worked in a large account pricing area for 3 years, and during that time I did a wide variety of work.  It wasn’t just focused on pricing accounts and getting the pricing to the customer.  It was also focused on how to improve our large account pricing methodologies, how to strategize what types of accounts we want to target, how to improve the tools we were using, and much more.  It gave me the ability to see how the pricing of the large accounts within a company fit into the big picture of the company strategy.  You don’t have to be a company actuary to work on large account pricing, but in order to really understand the needs and goals of the account, it’s a great benefit to understand the needs and goals of the company as well.  Being a company actuary gives that opportunity.

There are many other examples of this type of benefit across the actuarial industry.  Whether it is pricing, reserving, predictive analytics, etc., being a company actuary allows for new and experienced actuaries to learn the industry in a way that gives a great big-picture perspective.  It should definitely be on your list to consider as you finish your education!

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