CAS Student Central Releases Fall 2020 Webinar Recording: Excel and R for Actuaries!

CAS Student Central is excited to present Excel and R for Actuaries as this semester’s CAS Student Central webinar! This pre-recorded 90-minute webinar covers a variety of common uses and functions relevant to each software package while utilizing real data from the CAS Personal Property Auto Data Set.

Learn how to build and explore loss development triangles using the popular “tidyverse” suite of R packages, and obtain an overview of some essential Microsoft Excel functions and techniques for data exploration, including SUMIFS/COUNTIFS, IF statements, VLOOKUP, and PivotTables.

Meet the Presenters

Brian Fannin, ACAS, CSPA, MAAA has been an actuary for over 20 years. Brian has been Associate of the CAS since 2002 and a Certified Specialist in Predictive Analytics since 2017. He has worked in a variety of roles in commercial insurance, both primary and excess, here in the US as well as Europe, London and Asia. An early proponent of R, he has taught various workshops and seminars for the CAS, Actex and insurance clients. He joined the staff of the CAS in March of 2018 as Research Actuary. His focus is to enable CAS committees and research partners to work efficiently in developing relevant, practical content.

Jaris Wicklund, FCAS, MAAA is a Lead Pricing Actuary for Personal Lines at The Hanover Insurance Group, where he has worked for 13 years in a variety of actuarial and non-actuarial roles.  He has been a CAS volunteer since attaining his Fellowship in 2015, and is currently the vice chair of the University Engagement Committee.  Jaris is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and lives in Acton, MA with his wife, Jaime, and their 13-month-old son, James.

To expand your knowledge and sharpen your skills in Excel and R, access the webinar recording now!

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Making the Most of Your College Experience as an Actuarial Science Student

Shobana Iyer, Purdue University

Starting your college education can be daunting for a variety of reasons. You’re introduced to a brand-new environment and exposed to endless new opportunities. When you add a tough line of study like actuarial science to the mix you can become overwhelmed pretty quickly. Some students avoid pursuing this major because they think they will miss out on the excitement of college, but hopefully by the end of this blog post I can convince you that attending college while studying actuarial science is an experience well worth the effort.

I have found that often as freshmen we have a generic idea of what the actuarial science major entails, and refer to for any clarification. However, there is a world of resources that exist to support actuarial students including actuarial clubs, fraternities, and many other established organizations within our campuses that provide convenient and immediate information. One of the biggest benefits of joining one of these organizations is that you get the opportunity to directly interact with other actuarial students who have a diverse set of experiences to learn from.

One of the best decisions I have made in college has been to run for a board position in my university’s actuarial club my freshman year. Writing this out now, I recall how challenging this was for me two years ago. Back then, my negative mindset made me think that being on the board as a freshman could only happen in my dreams. Little did I know that after I was elected into that position, my involvement in the actuarial department at my school would completely transform my college experience for the better. It inspired me to interact with more of my fellow actuarial science students and understand that networking isn’t as terrifying as we make it out to be, and actually quite fun.  Most importantly, it taught me that anything is possible as long as I give it a chance.

Below is a list of ideas of how you can get involved on campus to better your college experience. However, as all universities are different, I recommend you go beyond this list and start researching what your school offers! Oftentimes the easiest thing to do is send an email to a club board member and ask for advice or clarification. They can help you get connected and even inspire you to run for a board position! I can assure you, it is well worth it if you are truly passionate about your major.

Ways to get involved:

  • Research and join your university’s actuarial club (and/or fraternity, as well as any related organization)
  • If your university doesn’t have an actuarial club or fraternity, start one! The insurance specific fraternity, Gamma Iota Sigma, has numerous resources available to help you start your own chapter. Apply/run to be on the board for clubs that pertain to your interests and you are passionate about
  • Interact with fellow actuarial students to see how they are involved
  • Communicate with companies and network via LinkedIn, club events, conferences, etc.
  • Form study groups/group messages with other students in your classes

** Bonus: To have a great college experience holistically, you have to remind yourself of your outside interests as well, so don’t forget to be involved in other extracurriculars besides those that have to do with your major!

In conclusion, don’t be afraid to take chances and increase your involvement on campus! Not everything may be “your cup of tea” but finding those activities you do enjoy will help you grow closer to the best version of yourself!

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2021 ARECA Actuarial Scholarship Announced for Undergraduates in Asia

ARECA is pleased to announce the 2020/21 scholarship competition for current undergraduate students in the Asia Pacific region who are interested in pursuing the actuarial profession.

About the Scholarship:

The primary element of the scholarship competition is for the applicant to prepare an essay (approximately five pages) addressing a business scenario that is illustrative of the issues that are analyzed by property / casualty actuaries in their daily work.

Scholarship awards of US $1000 each (cash) will be awarded to three students. In addition, the Scholarship winners will have the opportunity to publish their scenario essays in CAS publications, and to participate in an upcoming local ARECA meeting (or other actuarial event) during 2021.

The funding for these scholarships is sponsored by AXIS, part of the AXIS Capital group of companies, which includes global insurers and reinsurers providing clients and distribution partners with a broad range of specialized risk transfer products and services.


Asia Region Casualty Actuaries (ARECA), based in Asia Pacific, is a Regional Affiliate of the Casualty Actuarial Society (“CAS”). ARECA is one of 18 CAS Regional Affiliates providing high-quality education opportunities to CAS members, candidates, students and other risk professionals across the world. For more information visit the CAS website.

Applications are due by 31 March, 2021.

Interested? Get more information and apply here!


If you have questions about the scholarship, ARECA, the Casualty Actuarial Society, or the actuarial profession after reviewing the material available through the above link, please contact Michael Chou, CAS International Relations Manager, at

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Being Out, Open and Proud in the Workplace

Matt Gentile, FCAS, MAAA (He/Him)

It was my junior year of college when I finally decided to text my best friend one night, “I’m gay.” Though it was a freeing experience, I knew I’d have more choices to make about coming out going forward. During my first internship, I really wanted to receive a fulltime offer that would help make my senior year much less stressful, so I made it a goal to hide my sexuality. Everything I said and did was calculated, in hopes that I would “cover” my identity. I justified being “in the closet” because I didn’t know who was making the final decision and their views on the LGBTQ+ community.

When I returned to the UConn campus that fall, I focused on starting to fully embrace my identity. I had my first boyfriend who really pushed me to be my authentic self. I held his hand in public. I proudly told people I was a gay male, and I didn’t let the nerves win. This led me to begin challenging the idea of being closeted at work. I began to realize that if a company didn’t embrace the unique perspective I was bringing to the workplace, then ultimately they didn’t deserve to have me on board.

I received a return offer and started my actuarial career in June 2014. This time, I went into the office with a renewed perspective. I decorated my desk from day one to show my love for my community. I had rainbow flags at my desk, a Little Mermaid statue (my favorite Disney princess, of course), and signs that reminded me to be proud of who I am.

I won’t pretend that every day was easy. There were times where I felt excluded from the office conversations between all the straight men, and I really wanted to fit in. The few times I brought up topics that interested me, I felt looks come my way. In fact, one of my straight male coworkers told me how uncomfortable he was when I chose “Who is your favorite Disney princess?” as our team’s question of the week. I quickly turned this back on him and let him know that our weekly conversations about the New England Patriots made me feel similar, and I think a light bulb went on for him.

It wasn’t until I left my first company that I really became passionate about making the insurance industry and the actuarial profession a place where LGBTQ+ individuals can thrive. At that company, I took a role to lead the LGBTQ+ employee resource group (ERG) and consistently pushed for educational opportunities that helped better the organization. I was met with support from my direct management and the company as a whole. I have met so many amazing people that are members of the community and allies that make me realize how comfortable I am being myself in this profession.

A few months ago, I started a third new job. When I was interviewing, I made sure to reference my partner and the work I had done with the Pride ERG. I wanted to make sure that this was a company I would feel comfortable working for. When the hiring manager started asking questions about my work with Pride and my partner, I knew this was the right fit for me!

Starting a job and a new career can be daunting. Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community can make this even more challenging. Since this is often a facet of our identity that is not visible, we are faced with a decision about being our authentic self. And though it is hard to be LGBTQ+ in the insurance industry at times, I don’t at all regret being out, open, and proud. Below are some tips and tricks that I live by and might be helpful for others!

  1. It is okay to bring your authentic self to work each and every day, if you feel safe doing so. (I don’t hide my sexuality, piercings, tattoos, etc.)
  2. You can factor in whether a workplace will be accepting of your identity when you decide to accept an offer of employment.
  3. Accept that the LGBTQ+ community is often not fully understood, and what might feel like an attack by someone outside could be used as a teaching moment.
  4. Know that there are so many wonderful LGBTQ+ actuaries and allies out there to speak with. You are not alone!
  5. Speak to a member of the LGBTQ+ community in the profession about their own experience, because each one is sure to be different.
  6. Become a member of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance of Actuaries (SAGAA). This group is there as a resource for LGBTQ+ actuaries and allies. SAGAA has a Linkedin page (, an Instagram handle ( and a website ( that will be launching soon!

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