Actuaries and the great bargain - door Dirk Jonker


If you think your job is safe, read the book “The future of the Professions” by Daniel Susskind and think again. In spite of a long tradition, high professional standards and a registered title in the Netherlands (AAG) even an actuary has to reinvent his job as artificial intelligence and huge computing power is beating him at his traditional core competences.


The real strength of an actuary is to translate future ambiguity into (financial) impact of today. The sustainability of the profession lies in discovering new application areas, way broader than the current domain. About a third of the actuaries[1] acknowledge this, but does the guardian of their registered title, het Koninklijk Actuarieel Genootschap (association), support this way forward as well?


Since 1888, the association has authority on actuarial matters, in exchange for continuously developing the actuarial function to the evolving requirements. This great bargain has made the association complacent and inside focused, contributing with just incremental improvements. Companies and institutions weigh-in and protect the exclusive empire that was built. These politics have made the association unnecessarily slow, conservative and protective.


In my view the association should be inspirational for starters, add value to experienced professionals, be a frontrunner in innovation and be an open community to facilitate everything to take the domain to the next level. That’s why I write this blog in English, inviting non-Dutch actuaries and professionals from different backgrounds to help enrich our actuarial domain.


I propose to make the association more accessible and even open-source. High membership fees do not help. Also the permanent education system seems far away from how knowledge is nowadays created and shared like for instance the Wikipedia initiative. A more open and accessible actuarial association will lead to more diverse domain discussions on pricing models, fraud detection, longevity tables, and so on and eventually result in true (outside-in) innovation.


One might say that the actuarial context is so particular and complex that ‘ordinary’ professionals cannot understand. I seriously doubt it. If open-source software societies like the Django Software Foundation can develop a product and leverage knowledge on much more complex matters, an open minded actuarial community can do it for sure.


[1] Cluster analysis on the competency survey data that Focus Orange & Crunchr organized for the Dutch Actuarial Congress 2015, shows that 38% can be classified as the innovative actuary.


Deze blog is op persoonlijke titel geschreven.