Among the many things that have changed how the actuarial field functions is an underlying movement to automate. By integrating cognitive computing capabilities into their actuarial processes, reserving teams have a new and powerful tool to better equip them to eschew repetitive tasks, like data cleaning, validating and loading, and analysis preparation. Instead, they can focus on the critical work that requires planning, decision-making and vision—a blend of art and science, so to speak.

Executive Summary

New technology can help actuaries communicate better and analyze deeper, Willis Towers Watson Director Jamie Mackay suggests. Here, he explains how actuaries can spend less time and resources running queries and inserting rows, and more time performing critical thinking by using automation and extract, transform, load (ETL) tools. He also notes the value of leveraging automation to perform more frequent reserving analyses—something that was much desired to analyze the impact of COVID lockdowns on loss development triangles—and the value of data visualization tools in communicating results to non-actuaries in the C-suite.

Automation is not a goal, rather a means to achieving a business objective. It is a tool to make people more productive. This is reflected in a recent Willis Towers Watson reserving survey, which probed chief actuaries and reserving actuaries among insurance companies about their satisfaction with their existing processes and strategic goals. Only 25 percent said they were fully satisfied, and 84 percent said that not having enough time for detailed, value-added analysis was a big concern.

Transition From Manual Work to Adding Value

Two of the more striking areas where satisfaction decreased over the last four years centered on “effective use of available actuarial staff” and “speed/timeliness.” In other words, there’s a perception the team is working too slowly of doing things that do not add value. This isn’t a harsh criticism, rather more reflective of the sheer volume of tasks actuaries are being asked to complete while also having to stake their professional integrity on the results produced.

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