CAS Roundtables: A review

Attended my first CAS roundtable yesterday morning at the Casualty Loss Reserve Seminar.

The roundtable was called Strengths and Weaknesses in Stochastic Reserving – Capturing the Extremes and Reflecting Judgment. But I don’t want to focus on the topic – though I found the discussion interesting. I want to address the idea of the roundtable discussion. Started with the 2011 Spring Meeting, the discussions are new in CAS continuing education.

The roundtables are small groups (about 7 in mine) meeting during breakfast to discuss a topic.

The talks are informal. A facilitator – an expert in the topic – starts the discussion. Then everyone else is encouraged to, in the CAS’s words, “join the discussion, share their ideas, seek advice from their peers at the roundtable, and explore solutions to challenges faced with the issues presented.”

Enrollment at each of the eight sessions is capped at nine. You have to pre-register. But there’s no room of chairs pointed at an expert panel. No PowerPoint looms above. So it feels like a few people talking shop over breakfast. Sessions last about 45 minutes. You receive 0.6 continuing ed credits.

I like the format, and most people I spoke with did, too. It gives you an opportunity to talk with leaders in the field in a relaxed setting and voice common concerns.

And the informality keeps the topic fresh. Our discussion, for example, spent a lot of time on how to present a stochastic model’s results to senior management. We compared reserve models with the success cat modelers have had in presenting results and helping the C-suite manage its portfolio. But it’s pretty clear the discussion was not intended to go that way – it just happened because of the serendipitous makeup of our paricular group. I suspect the same topic, on a different day, with a different group would talk about something else.

I think the roundtables work well and hope the CAS continues to offer them. I think they would be really good for professional development – discussing Standards of Practice and real-life ethical dilemmas.

Disclosure: In addition to being a CAS member, I have written some press materials for the organization. But they did not suggest I write on this topic and, obviously, didn’t review this beforehand.

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