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Actuarial Modeling

Wasted Time Survey – 2020 Results(3 min read)

Today we are proud to present the results of our first annual Wasted Time Survey.

Click here to get the full report

You might recall that we previously published some “initial” results. That write-up provided a lot of summary about the population, and we encourage you to check it out.

Now, with this report, we are able to present observations around the question of interest: What is the impact of wasted time on actuarial productivity?

Some quick highlights:

The majority of actuaries are wasting time in lots of little ways.

The following is one of many charts indicating how often actuaries experienced certain types of tasks. Each one of these items was indicated by more than half of the survey respondents.

Clearly there is a lot of room for improvement, if the majority of actuaries (38 of 55 on this question) are spending time “copying results to a storage database” or “waiting for vendor support” (36 of 55).

Actuaries generally indicate that data and model management tasks impact their productivity more than hardware and software maintenance tasks.

Actuarial processing tasks include what we call “validation-type” or audit-type tasks, where actuaries are confirming results of a calculation already completed or checking that it’s been done correctly.

Actuaries ranked (on a scale from 1 to 5) Tracing Individual Values Through a Calculation as most impactful (at 3.23) and Managing Hardware as least impactful (at 1.76).

Actuaries at higher levels (more advanced credentials) indicate they experience less impact on their productivity from time-wasting tasks.

The differential impact of each type of task on the various groups may be due to many factors: “learned” ways to compensate for limitations as careers progress, differential assignment of tasks, or lessened perception of impact the longer a task remains part of the set of responsibilities.

(page 21)

We encourage all actuaries, and those who work with them, to check out the full write-up of the survey. Below we include the Executive Summary for those who just want the TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version.

Executive Summary

In July of 2020 a survey was distributed to actuaries across the world. Those who responded provided demographic information about their qualifications, responsibilities, and tools they use in discharging actuarial responsibilities.

57 respondents provided answers to questions regarding the overall recency and the impact of “wasted time” tasks. Those tasks relate to either actuarial-adjacent tasks (such as extract/ transform/load activities necessary to prepare data for use) or non-adjacent tasks (such as hardware maintenance or waiting for limited computing resources to be shared across an enterprise).

Respondents were asked to rate the impact of the various tasks, from Not Much Impact to Significant Impact. Responses were assigned a number from 1 (Not Much Impact) to 5 (Significant Impact) and then averaged to determine an average Impact Score for each of the tasks.

Actuaries across the board saw the greatest impact from validation-type tasks. The average Impact Score for those tasks was 2.87, compared to 2.35 for data management tasks, while all tasks combined scored 2.58. The highest overall impact score was for Tracing individual values through a calculation.

Additionally, hardware and software management tasks showed a lower overall impact, with an Impact Score of 2.33. This is led by an item similar to that experienced above, Slowed processing of other tasks while your Excel model (or other) runs “in the background”.

Responses were grouped according to whether the respondent has obtained actuarial credentials (FSA, FCAS, EA, etc.) or not, as well as by which type of modeling system (Excel, commercial, or proprietary system) is in use. The following graphic demonstrates the differential between groups:

Together, these survey answers suggest that actuaries are not as efficient in their processes as they could be. Reducing the impact of this wasted time, through development of better processes or application of efficient-to-use software, should help actuaries determine their risk analysis conclusions and risk management recommendations in a shorter turnaround time, giving all interested parties better value from the actuarial work performed.

As this is the first survey of its type, there are no historical results to compare to. This survey will set a standard against which future responses can be used to measure change.

Get the full write-up here: