Name: Gary Traicoff What is your professional title?
Direct Pricing Manager Tell us about your work-what do you do?
I am a Casualty Actuary at a Property and Casualty Insurance Company . In my current role, I am in charge of helping to set adequate, fair, and reasonable rates for consumers . What skills are needed?
Good analytical skills are a must. General business and communication skills are also very important as well as PC proficiency. To be successful, a person needs to be detail oriented, a logical thinker, and have the ability to identify and solve problems. What was your major?
I have a BS in Applied Math with an Economics minor. How did you get started in your career?
As a math major, I was not sure what job I could do besides teach. A professor suggested that I look into the actuarial field. I interviewed with a former student of this professor who was currently working in the field. I sat for an actuarial exam while still in college and passed. This experience helped me choose an actuarial path as a career. What experience do you need in this job?
To be considered an Actuary, one must pass a certain number of actuarial exams. There are 2 exam tracks, the Casualty Actuarial Society ( CAS ) and the Society of Actuaries ( SOA ). CAS actuaries generally work in the Property and Casualty field, which includes auto, homeowners , and Workers Comp insurance . SOA actuaries generally work in life insurance , pensions, and benefits. I am a member of the CAS, For the CAS track there are 9 exams covering topics such as calculus , statistics , economics, finance , interest theory , insurance law, insurance accounting, pricing, reserving, finance, and investments , One must pass the first 7 exams to be considered an Associate ( ACAS ). A Fellow ( FCAS ) is one who has passed all 9 exams. Attaining at least ACAS status is important because this allows a person to be able to sign certain key financial statements. Most large companies require a person to be an FCAS to head an actuarial area. Describe your "typical " workday:
In my current role as Pricing Manager, I spend a lot of time training pricing analysts, reviewing and analysing data, discussing pricing and product changes with Product and Marketing Managers, and reviewing rate filings that we send to the Departments of Insurance. No day is "typical". Some days I may be on the phone or in meetings most of the day discussing pricing issues. Other days I may be analysing data at my computer most of the day. What is the hardest aspect of your job?
Communication is so important in our area. I must explain very technical information to people who have many different backgrounds. Also, sitting for exams is very difficult and time consuming. On average, I study over 400 hours for an exam. Exams are given twice a year. This means that I study an average of 25 hours per week 8 months out of the year! A person needs a lot of dedication and perseverance to get through these exams. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Solving problems. I enjoy identifying a problem, deciding how to solve the problem, and then working through for the solution. Passing an actuarial exam is also a great feeling. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field?
Take course work with a strong math and statistics focus. Business courses such as Finance and Economics are also very helpful. Make sure that you are comfortable working on a PC with spreadsheets, etc. If you can do some programming, that makes you even more valuable. Be prepared to put in a major time commitment studying for exams. Try to sit for the first or second actuarial exams in college. It will allow you to gauge the difficulty of the exams. It will also provide insight as to whether this may be a career path you may want to pursue. Many companies will also require one or two passed exams for entry-level positions.