No Cure for Cancer in Actuarial Profession

It’s Enrolled Actuary meeting time again and I’m in Washington, DC until Wednesday getting CPE credits by listening to 20 hours of speakers reading their powerpoint slides.

Coincidentally the American Association for Cancer Research is also holding their convention this same week thus making finding a parking space near the Spy Museum* challenging.  My first non-politically-correct thought upon seeing the Cancer Research banner was to wonder how serious they really were about curing cancer when, if they were to ever come up with a pill, procedure, or lifestyle change that would eradicate this dread disease it would likely also eradicate their jobs.  Then I made a connection to my profession.

Pension actuaries are overseeing the death of retirement security in this country.

Private sector single-employer Defined Benefit plans have become too unpredictable and expensive (especially PBGC plans) to administer and sponsors who have these plans are increasingly freezing benefit accruals while potential sponsors (who need to cover regular employees) aren’t even considering walking into that fiscal buzz-saw.  Multiemployer (union) plans have been battered by declining union enrollments and many are on various forms of life support provided by the federal government which wants to put off as long as possible having those massive liabilities foisted on taxpayers through the PBGC.  Defined Benefit plans in the public sector are often little more than ponzi schemes that happen to have a modest trust attached, with an ever larger amount of that money in ‘alternative’ investments.

Is there a magic bullet?  What about Defined Contribution plans where the cost is transparent, the risk is borne by the participant, and there is scant room for manipulation through jargon?

Though the side effects……like obviating a profession……make that course of treatment unlikely to be put forth in the next few days.




* Hands down the best place to get gifts.  The quality of $3 T-shirts and other bric-a-brac at those mall kiosks has markedly plummeted since those Lewinsky days and I have been requested by family members to avoid them so after 25 years of making this trek my itinerary is set:  four hours of audio books, George Carlin this year (rejected NJ State motto: “kiss her where it smells, take her to New Jersey”) , first stop Spy Museum gift shop, then check into the best hotel in DC (can’t understand why actuaries stay at the Marriott with those long check-in lines and $500 rooms when they can stay where I’m at and get basically the same setup but with personal service by the owner and fresh cookies with wine at one-third the price and maybe only a few steps further from your room to the convention hall); jog a couple miles to the Politics and Prose bookshop (again best in DC); hook up the Clear internet for this blog and wonder if Fleetwood Mac Tuesday night would be worth it.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Tough Love on April 8, 2013 at 1:20 am

    Be sure to visit the Pandas (adorable creatures) …. they’ve got about 2 acres of prime real estate (nice digs and probably part of the deal with China to get them here).


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