The objective of this guide was to introduce the basic concepts of programming to the actuarial community. It discussed how to set up a standard coding environment, the fundamental elements of a programming script, together with strategies for organising code and how to apply it to some typical actuarial situations.
Hopefully the advantages of programming have been demonstrated. Involved manual data processes can be replaced with programmed automated procedures. Sophisticated modelling techniques can be rapidly applied using a few lines of code and run on fast remote servers. The results of actuarial investigations can be displayed in more interactive and versatile ways.
Of course these advantages are not without their costs. Whilst there are a raft of free tools, courses and resources available online, there can be a large time (and monetary) investment required upfront to get a solution set up. It may not be apparent from the outset whether a programming solution is better suited to solving an actuarial problem than traditional means, especially if the code is only going to be run once. Furthermore, there may be limitations with a user’s hardware or software options in the office, or critical dependencies on legacy systems that do not lend themselves easily to integration with other packages.
Nervertheless, as the business environment continues to evolve into more computationally focused and data rich directions, the ability of actuaries to write and understand code would be a welcome addition to an already extensive toolkit.