In this column, current Academy Presidents reflect on their experiences with professionalism and share their unique perspective into the future.
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
“It’s nice to see you.” This is a phrase I heard over and over, and one I said several times, when the Academy Board met in person in early October. It was great to see people who I had spent the past 18 months staring at on my computer. We certainly aren’t finished with COVID-19—as was made clear by our having to follow the local protocols and social distance at this meeting—but it really was nice to see everyone. It was great that we were able to do this during my final Board meeting as Academy president.
In my first message in this publication back in January, I asked what 2021 would bring, and I noted that whatever that was, I was confident that the actuarial profession could handle it. That’s because as actuaries, we have the training and experience to apply our skills and professionalism to new challenges.
While I didn’t offer any specific predictions, I’m proud to say I was correct about the capability of the actuarial profession. In the past year, Academy volunteers responded to the challenges presented in many ways. We did this by contributing to public policy discussions and strengthening the professionalism infrastructure.
The most noticeable way we did this was by providing policymakers and regulators at all levels of government with timely actuarial insights on the COVID-19 pandemic’s implications for a wide array of public and private insurance and pension programs and systems. However, the profession and Academy volunteers responded in many other ways, including the following highlights:
The Pension Practice Council (PPC), which was active on the congressional front prior to the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), responded to the enactment of ARPA earlier this year by focusing on the shift in the multiemployer plan reform landscape. The PPC worked with government agencies on the implementation of ARPA, including leading efforts to educate members on its impact.
The Health Practice Council met (virtually) with congressional offices on a wide range of issues, including ongoing Affordable Care Act issues, long-term care reforms, telehealth concerns, and Medicare solvency and reforms.
The Life Practice Council published a discussion paper on asset adequacy testing considerations for life financial reporting actuaries in the extreme economic environment that arose in 2020. This paper should continue to serve our members well this year-end.
The Casualty Practice Council is tackling issues involving ratemaking, including working with regulators on unfair discrimination and causation/correlation topics, and is working with other actuarial organizations to publish and continue to update the Actuaries Climate Index, which provides objective measures of specific and aggregate changes in climate extremes and sea level across Canada and the U.S.
The Risk Management and Financial Reporting Council is working with groups involving all Academy practice councils to develop an issue paper on data analytics and artificial intelligence, providing input to state and federal regulators on a climate risk disclosure survey, and informing the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the International Association of Insurance Supervisors, and federal agencies on the measurement of scalars applying to comparability of group capital regimes.
On the professionalism front, the Academy is in the process of developing revisions to the U.S. Qualification Standards, and will be offering webinars on self-regulation (November) and ethical problems based on cases and requests for guidance that have been brought before the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline (December).
We launched a webpage dedicated to diversity, equity, & inclusion on the Academy website, which includes messages from Academy leadership and public policy initiatives, and which highlights the work and achievements of Academy members in underrepresented groups.
All of this was possible only because of the many talented and dedicated volunteers that take the time to contribute to the good of the U.S. actuarial profession.
I can’t believe my year as Academy President is coming to an end—it has been an amazing experience. I am grateful to Academy staff, my fellow Board members, and all the volunteers. I expect to continue volunteering on Academy groups and contributing to the Academy mission, and I hope our paths will cross, and that I will see you soon. That would be nice!