By Chi Wai Lima, Artistic Director, Triple-I
As a part of celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we now have interviewed Jessica Leong, FCAS, lead knowledge scientist at Zurich North America and president of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS).
Presently residing in Chicago, Leong shares her insights on how know-how and massive knowledge are altering the actuarial profession path and insurance coverage panorama. She speaks about her group’s work at Zurich and the way knowledge science and evaluation have helped to enhance claims fashions. As well as, Leong shares the CAS’s initiatives to actively assist variety, fairness and inclusion within the insurance coverage business.
Triple-I CEO Sean Kevelighan presently serves on the CAS board of administrators.
You’ve been in a position to dwell all over the world: Australia, the UK and now the US. What strikes in your profession did you make for that to occur? What piqued your curiosity in actuarial research and the trail that led you to knowledge science lead at Zurich?
I made a decision to change into an actuary very early on in my profession. I grew up in Australia, and after I was in highschool, I knew I used to be good at math and I used to be what professions that may result in. Actuarial naturally sprung up because it does for lots of people who’re good at math, but it surely appeared like a very rewarding profession and a rewarding career.
Lots of Australians wish to take a yr off college and do backpacking all over the world. I took a yr off, went to London and obtained my first actuarial job, working six months at St. Paul. With that cash I backpacked round Europe for a yr. Then I went again to Australia, completed my diploma, and my first job out of college was in London. I simply had the itch to return, and the actuarial career is an efficient one if you happen to get pleasure from touring.
Then my boyfriend-now-husband obtained a job in New York, in order that’s why I moved to the States. I by no means really thought I might dwell in America, and it’s been greater than a decade.
Would you be capable to share a undertaking that you just’re presently engaged on at Zurich?
I’ve a group of knowledge scientists at Zurich, and we construct fashions for 3 totally different teams: For underwriting, to assist us with threat choice and pricing; for claims, to work on higher claims triage and discovering claims fraud; after which lastly for our clients to assist them higher handle and perceive their dangers.
We now have finished plenty of work in claims. For instance, we now have constructed a claims mannequin that alerts us if a staff’ comp declare goes to change into complicated, and if it will profit from having a nurse to evaluation that case and handle it way more proactively. That has actually benefited Zurich by way of outcomes. It has additionally benefitted our clients and their staff by way of getting again to work and regaining their well being. It’s been a win-win throughout.
What are some challenges you’ve skilled in utilizing knowledge in relation to privateness, rules or bias?
This can be a very massive subject for not simply the insurance coverage business, but in addition extra broadly, as massive knowledge will get greater and synthetic intelligence continues to advance. One thing that we do for all of our fashions is discuss to authorized, compliance and privateness. They do an intensive evaluation of the fashions earlier than we really put them into manufacturing, to be sure that from the info and the algorithm viewpoints, we keep true to our rules inside Zurich. A couple of years in the past, Zurich launched a knowledge dedication to most of the people and to our clients concerning the form of knowledge we are going to and won’t use so we take that severely.
Are there any implications that you just’re seeing that the pandemic has had on knowledge evaluation?
Sure, undoubtedly. Lots of the evaluation that’s finished in insurance coverage depends on the historical past being considerably predictive of the longer term, and admittedly, all knowledge evaluation depends on that as a result of knowledge is by definition, historic. So anytime you attempt to make a prediction from knowledge it’s counting on historic truth, and clearly the pandemic actually upended that. How do I have a look at this knowledge and use it to make predictions of the longer term? It’s much less clear, and we’ve needed to rely way more on judgment, and we’ve needed to actually suppose exterior the field concerning the several types of knowledge we must always use now to attempt to make predictions of the longer term.
Congratulations in your presidency of the CAS. Why did you be a part of CAS and what led you to being elected as president?
Once I initially joined the CAS in 2005/2006, I volunteered for the group. A couple of third of our members volunteer in some capability, which is great for any society – that’s a really excessive charge. I discover that the actuarial neighborhood is only a nice neighborhood.
One of many advantages of volunteering for the CAS is having the possibility to develop your management expertise. Earlier than lengthy, I used to be chair of one of many seminar-organizing committees. That was a very good expertise by way of management for me, early in my profession.
I used to be given the suggestion by my boss, about seven/eight years in the past now, that I ought to be on the board of the CAS. It had by no means crossed my thoughts, actually, that I might be even eligible for a job like that. The CAS has a nominating committee, who known as me and requested me to run. Then I obtained a name, possibly two/three years later, asking if I might contemplate working for president. I’m so honored to have this position.
There’s a three-year plan to create unicorns. Are you seeing any affect to date? Is that this resonating so much inside CAS and the business?
Final November at our annual assembly, we launched a brand new Envisioned Future and a three-year plan. Our new Envisioned Future says “CAS members are wanted globally for his or her insights and skill to use analytics to resolve insurance coverage and threat administration issues.”
Now that may not sound like a lot, but when you consider what it used to say, one thing like “the CAS advances the apply and utility of actuarial science,” we made the change to be extra evergreen and extra actionable. We are going to do no matter analytics must be finished, and we are going to do it to resolve enterprise issues in insurance coverage, and it will evolve over time.
What this implies is that the actuary of the longer term must have three key ability units. First, they should be nice at analytics, the form of analytics you might want to remedy the vital insurance coverage issues of right this moment. Second, they should be nice at problem-solving. Actuaries are good at fixing the core issues in insurance coverage, pricing, reserving, capital modeling. However an increasing number of with massive knowledge, there are new issues you possibly can remedy. The instance I gave earlier than – is that this declare going to change into complicated, would it not profit from having a nurse? These are new issues now you can remedy with knowledge and analytics that you just most likely couldn’t have finished earlier than. The third space is the area information by way of P&C insurance coverage.
That’s the unicorn. That’s the actuary of the longer term, having all three key ability units.
How are you attracting a extra various physique of scholars to pursue actuarial or associated research? How are you attempting to draw several types of folks and other ways of considering to the CAS and to the insurance coverage business on the whole?
One of many pillars in our technique that we launched with our Envisioned Future is to diversify our pipeline. We now have varied initiatives to look to do this. One factor is we’re pushing ahead by way of variety, fairness and inclusion, and we lately put out some metrics on our web site. Proper now, for instance, 23% of our members are Asian, below 2% are Black and below 2% are Hispanic. The variety from the Black and Hispanic viewpoint is just not the place we would like it to be, and we now have a aim of accelerating that to about 5% to eight% of our new members within the subsequent 5 to 10 years. We put a stake within the sand by way of how we would like our racial variety to enhance.
A couple of years in the past, we engaged a consulting agency to determine what’s holding us again by way of having extra variety. One of many issues they recognized is simply discovering out concerning the career early in your life goes to be key, as a result of lots of people in varied racial and ethnic teams are usually not actually discovering out concerning the actuarial career when they should. So we’ve been doing actuarial highschool days, visiting various excessive faculties to speak to them concerning the actuarial career.
We even have a scholarship program for these underrepresented teams, the place we pays for exams given a couple of qualifying standards, as a result of we all know that the price of the exams can be a hindrance, particularly once you’re nonetheless in class and also you’re not incomes any cash. To get an internship, you might want to have three exams below your belt, however they price cash. It may be powerful, so we’re seeing what we will do to assist.
What challenges have you ever needed to overcome, as a girl and an individual of coloration within the insurance coverage business?
I’m very massive on self-improvement, and I’ve tried to develop myself in a method to achieve success on this setting.
If I take into consideration my upbringing, it was totally different as an Asian individual rising up in Australia. Once I was in highschool, I used to be on the observe group and I had wished to be within the relay. There have been solely 4 folks within the relay, and I wasn’t picked as one of many 4, though I used to be most likely the third quickest individual within the college. I assumed that this was simply unfair and favoritism. I advised my mother, “That is actually unfair; you’ve obtained to do one thing about this,” and he or she advised me, “Don’t complain; simply do what you’re advised. Don’t stick out.”
That actually jarred with me then and nonetheless now, considering again on it. That highlighted the distinction in tradition. As I’ve been navigating my method by means of predominantly Western work tradition, I’ve labored fairly intentionally to suppose otherwise and to amass expertise that may assist me in this sort of work setting.