In terms of news events, October 28, 2005 maybe wasn’t that eventful. It was National Chocolate Day in the U.S. – an obvious cause for celebration. But for 32 RMS clients sitting in conference rooms in RMS offices as far apart as Hackensack, NJ, through to Tokyo, history was about to be made. After extensive road testing using RMS employees, these 32 brave individuals were the first clients to take the RMS Certified Catastrophe Risk Analyst (CCRA®) exam. Nineteen passed the exam and became our first client CCRA designees.
Fast forward 13 years and 59 training program sessions later, to April 27, 2017 when the most recent CCRA exam was held at five global RMS offices. This exam sitting became a milestone in itself. As of the April 27 exam, we can celebrate passing the 500-designee mark and now have an alumnus of 505 CCRA designees.
Looking back, why did RMS feel the need to launch the CCRA Training Program and designation? As a business, RMS had always invested in training, with a reputation across the industry for helping clients get the best from our solutions and to make sense of catastrophe modeling – which was still a relatively new discipline. But there was a need for a more standardized approach, a program that would be respected across the industry and elevate the professionals who achieved the CCRA designation.
So rather than just offering a vendor qualification, RMS took a much more ambitious path, to have this new CCRA Training Program recognize catastrophe risk modeling as its own discipline and to offer the first available accredited program. From its inception, the CCRA designation has been accredited by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) based in London and those earning the CCRA are eligible for 30 Diploma Level non-specific credits from the CII. In addition, candidates who complete the CCRA Training Program and hold the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation are eligible for 15 continuing professional development (CPD) credits.
An Overview of the CCRA
For those who are not familiar with the CCRA Training Program, it offers a comprehensive curriculum designed to fast track those individuals with an intermediate level of catastrophe modeling experience to gain an advanced understanding of models and modeled loss estimates. The program attracts a wide range of individuals; it’s not just catastrophe risk modelers or analysts, but also actuaries, underwriters, brokers and even IT professionals joining us.
And, similar to the global industry in which we operate, our CCRA designees are global, focused on the “power hubs” of insurance and reinsurance. Just over 70 percent are from the U.S. and the U.K., but we also claim representatives from Bermuda, Germany, and Switzerland, as well as Canada, Colombia, India, China, Japan, Australia, and Singapore.
With a mix of self-study and four days of instructor-led training in our RMS offices, participants study three core modules – Modeling Foundations, Exposure Data, and Perils – that offer a solid foundation of core concepts essential for interpreting and applying loss estimates while building their critical skill of assessing the assumptions that affect catastrophe model results. And it’s challenging. While over 1,100 participants have completed the program, not everyone takes the exam, and of those who take the final exam, not everyone will pass. Nearly 50 percent of the program participants go on to earn their CCRA designation.
I have run nearly fifty of the CCRA Training Programs, and see first-hand how our students navigate the course. Questions arise, such as “Do you have to be a math genius?” No, you do need basic math skills, but it’s not all about math. When students do Excel spreadsheet work, our trainers are there to support them through the finer intricacies such as the creation of a pivot table or how to write formulas – I thought catastrophe risk analysts would be natural Excel wizards! We make learning fun (I sound like a teacher) but students will remember the games of Jeopardy, the Pop Quiz and most importantly, who the best super hero is. And we listen to feedback. Many students said that covering the Financial Model course in a day was too grueling, so we extended it to a day and a third.
But it’s more than just listening to lectures in a classroom. It’s about building connections with others. The camaraderie that develops between the participants in a classroom has tremendous value. Through the interactive exercises, group projects, and open discussions that take place during the training, candidates are able to learn from their fellow classmates who come to the training with a wide variety of experiences. And relationships develop that continue beyond the classroom. I’ve seen participants gather after class for socializing, and some keep in touch even after the training is over.
Opening Doors With the CCRA
When you pass the exam, you become a CCRA designee and it is always a pleasure to see a LinkedIn profile or a business card displaying the CCRA accreditation after someone’s name. Employers and the industry recognize the designation, and it helps open doors to job opportunities and career advancement. It is also an honor to host CCRA designees at our annual CCRA lunch during the RMS Exceedance conference each year, and to hear how far designees have progressed in their careers while networking with their peers.
Where next for the CCRA? As RMS and catastrophe modeling evolves, so does the program, with a planned refresh of the perils, events, and new technologies we cover. For 2018, it is our intention to extend the CCRA designation in Asia, possibly with instructor-led courses in major Asian centers. Online-only learning is being explored to make it even easier for students to study the course in their home location and at their own pace.
If you work with catastrophe risk modeling or risk analysis, at whatever level, I would encourage you to look into the CCRA Training Program. Click here to find out more, and reach out to members of the CCRA alumni to get their perspective.
As a business, RMS is proud to deliver the leading training program for our clients in the catastrophe risk modeling industry, and we are excited about the future as the CCRA program continues to grow and develop to support risk professionals. So, who will be our 1000th CCRA designee?