Thanks for visiting. For those of you who have never heard of me, I am an actuary. There are about 20,000 of us in the US and a similar number throughout the rest of the world. While that may seem like a pretty big number, many people don’t know what an actuary is or that actuaries are the “engineers” that designed and make the insurance and pension systems in both this country and others function . I have worked in both the insurance and the pensions world, and until this year I worked as a consulting actuary helping large companies manage their retirement programs. My company, Towers Watson, employs more actuaries than any other organization in the world. Now I am retired I am focusing on writing more, and researching topics in the actuarial and financial world that still interest me.
That’s my professional life if you want to know more about my work at TW or my career, you should probably go to my LinkedIn profile. This site, on the other hand, will tell you more about other aspects of my life, and in particular, how to apply the actuarial perspective and my particular philosophy to a few areas that I think are in dire need of actuarial thinking.
As noted on my “Welcome” page, I have written a book “What’s Your Future Worth?” that describes the basic principles behind the actuarial perspective. I am now absorbed in thinking about “Holistic Financial Wellness” which I believe can be applied in lots of practical ways to help you make better financial decisions.
Before you go further you may want to know my orientation and any “agenda” I might have. Well the answer is that other than wanting to sell books and get people to listen to my ideas I have no agenda. However, I have some deeply held beliefs that inform all that you will read. The most important of these is that Truth is a very elusive concept, and while it may exist, it will often be impossible for us to ascertain. A direct corollary is that we will NEVER be able to predict the future with any certainty. Beyond that, I think that human beings are basically good but when individuals and/or groups get too much (or too little) money and power bad behavior starts to emerge. I have no general solution to this problem and very few opinions on political matters in general, though I suppose that there are political implications in some of the observations and analysis you will read here.
One of the key tenants of being an actuary is to be VERY careful about what you know and what you don’t know. Actuaries are guilty to a fault of declining to venture opinions when they are not sure they know the answer. In general I think this is a good thing and we can all use a little humility in the face of the vast complexity that we face, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on trying to understand more. My father was a code breaker for the US government and while he couldn’t tell me anything about what he was working on, throughout my childhood I was always aware that there were codes and messages out there that were almost impossible to decipher completely, but every once in a while, with a concerted and focused effort some of the signal could be separated from the noise. And that’s what I believe. Perhaps the following cartoon (given to me by a particle physicist) expresses it best:
I believe that not looking at what is going on around us is a recipe for ignorance and catastrophe, but I also think that if you look too deep, the complexity will overwhelm you. For me it’s the hemi, demi and semi triangles that give you the clue to what is going on. That’s where I spend my time and I invite you to join me on my exploration of where they are and how they affect our lives.