Ron Kozlowski is an industry veteran and Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society since 1992. He is an active volunteer for the CAS in international markets, a frequent presenter on professionalism and helps plan continuing education content around the globe. He also runs his own actuarial firm, RTK Actuarial + Professional Services, founded in November 2017. Ron’s robust & versatile career was heavily influenced by his international experience as he pursued his passion for promoting actuarial science in developing markets.
“A good actuary knows the underlying risk.”- Ron Kozlowski
Although Ron notes how important having a technical foundational is, he also believes the role of an actuary extends beyond mathematics. “[It’s]not a numbers profession, [but] a business common sense issue. Quantifying and solving risk. The actuary keeps everything in check.” The best actuaries use their findings to drive informed business decisions and make a real impact, especially in emerging industries that are beginning to see their actuarial need. As we know, actuarial findings play a focal role in the future of a company- with many decisions based solely on their findings. As a result, the actuary “always delivers quality work, diving down into the data and considering the big picture” The takeaway? The actuary “needs to solve business problems.”
Ron first learned about actuarial science while studying at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When Ron began the program, his interests ranged from architecture to math/finance to physics. After deciding on actuarial science, one of his professors at the time, Stephen D’Arcy suggested looking at the National Underwriter to help Ron decide whether he should become a Life or P/C actuary. Ron was amazed by the diversity of risks in the P/C industry, and he was sold on becoming a CAS member. Steve is a notable figure for Ron and many others in the actuarial community – along with Charles C. Hewitt Jr. and Robert J. Finger, he wrote Foundations of Casualty Actuarial Science. Ron feels his experience at U of I encouraged him to consider the continuous progression of actuarial science.
Ron’s passion for evolution & advancement led him to become a consultant because of the diversity of the work and the challenge in working with different clients. This has proven itself to be true – throughout his career, he’s helped tackle challenging issues like catastrophe modeling and construction defects. He was particularly intrigued by changes in construction defect issues over time and built himself a specialty area knowing more than just the numbers.
After joining a “Construction Defect” project Ron learned the importance of challenging himself and trusting his gut. Initially, he was hesitant to present his results thinking that something must have gone wrong in his calculations. His supervisor at the time reviewed his work and found his methodologies and assumptions to be sound. This single project turned into a great start to develop a new specialty. Ron learned that actuarial science is much more than just numbers and he decided to learn a bit about construction practices, the law, and claims handling. Ron thinks that actuaries should spend more time on the industries they are working on and the lines of business details and that would help them in solving business problems.
Looking back earlier in his career, Ron fondly remembers his time building catastrophe models at Tillinghast and describes this experience as making him feel like he was in grade school again, due to the multidisciplinary nature of the practice. Notably, he learned the science behind modeling a hurricane’s winds, and worked with engineers on developing damageability functions, and applying insurance coverage to hurricane losses. Ron used the framework in building models for other perils as well.
Ron speaks highly of his time at Aetna Life & Casualty and Tillinghast. Each company prided itself in collaboration, learning, and creating a family dynamic. Having worked both at a large insurer and a consulting company, Ron has a hard time giving advice to new actuaries as to whether they should join an insurance company or a consulting firm. He sees the value of gaining experience in both.
In 2009, Ron moved to Asia to head up the expansion of the actuarial staff for Towers Perrin (WTW). With a heavy focus on the development of the region, Ron “got his hands dirty” working in many different countries and on many different issues. This led to his involvement with the CAS on its Board of Directors and eventually as the CAS’s Asia Ambassador, where he helped garner interest and awareness of actuarial science across the region and brought the challenges of working in Asia back to the CAS’s leadership.
Because Ron knows the actuary adds value to companies in many ways, it’s always been easy for him to promote the profession. Over time, he saw the developing market in Asia as expanding but not necessarily providing value, so he wanted to promote actuaries’ value by sharing what they do and the challenges they can help solve. Now that the foundational work and regulations have solidified, there is more value that actuaries can provide. Ron takes great pride in how the Asian market has developed. Ron wants to continue to support this change by working with the CAS – he encourages actuaries to expand and invest in future services while striving to make actuarial science broader and across more industries.
For student actuaries or those looking for a next step in their career, he suggests they meet as many people as possible, and continue to develop soft skills, keep up with continuing education, and join an exam committee as the first step in volunteering with the CAS. Given the evolving market and the constant adjustments of the exam process, this is a good way to learn and stay abreast of those changes. It is also a useful way to see how other actuaries think – and always challenge yourself to see from different perspectives.
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