Professionalism Counts is a column in Actuarial Update, the Academy's monthly newsletter.

April 2019


As you read through this April Actuarial Update, consider refreshing your knowledge about how to find professionalism resources whenever you need them.


Turn to the Academy’s professionalism webpage, which features links not only to the Code of Professional Conduct and the standards of qualification and practice, but to useful tools and other resources created by the Academy to help you understand and meet the professionalism requirements that apply to you.

They can point you to opportunities for continuing education (CE) and help you maintain high standards of professionalism year-round. If you review the Code of Professional Conduct, the U.S. Qualification Standards(USQS), and the actuarial standards of practice (ASOPs) that apply to your work at least once a year, you will be well prepared to recognize matters that require attention from a professionalism perspective. A great time to do that is in the first half of the year.


The Code is the foundation of actuarial professionalism. The Code identifies the professional and ethical standards required of actuaries who practice in the United States. Academy members may request a handy pocket-size copy of the Code on the professionalism webpage. The Code is what requires us to satisfy applicable qualification standards and applicable standards of practice.


The USQS lay out the requirements for an actuary to be qualified to issue statements of actuarial opinion (SAO) in the United States; both general and specific SAOs are covered and differentiated in the USQS. To help you understand and interpret the requirements, the Committee on Qualifications (COQ) has published more than 50 answers to frequently asked questions, which are updated whenever a new question becomes “frequently asked” or seems to need some emphasis. The Academy has also published an infographic on CE requirements.


The Academy’s USQS Attestation Form is an easy-to-use tool for actuaries who want to demonstrate how they meet both the general qualifications of the USQS and, if applicable to their practice, the specific requirements for signing NAIC annual life, health, and  property/casualty statements of actuarial opinion. It tracks the USQS exactly and allows you to upload information to support and demonstrate your qualifications.

The ASOPs, promulgated by the Actuarial Standards Board (ASB), provide binding guidance on what an actuary should consider, document, and disclose when performing an actuarial assignment. To keep up to date on all of the ASB’s activities and which standards are being drafted, revised, exposed for comment, or have been adopted, all Academy members receive the ASB Boxscore, the ASB’s quarterly newsletter. The ASB website is also mobile-friendly—download an icon for easy access.


The Applicability Guidelines contain provide helpful, non-binding information on which ASOPs might apply to an assignment by listing common actuarial tasks in each practice area and suggesting which ASOP(s) might apply to each one. This is a long-standing effort undertaken by the Academy’s Council on Professionalism.


And if you need assistance navigating an ethically challenging situation, you can always seek a confidential request for guidance from the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline (ABCD), and a member will help you work through your situation. See the ABCD’s webpage for more information and links to the bimonthly “Up to Code” articles that the ABCD provides for our magazine, Contingencies. The ABCD uses those columns to disseminate educational information to assist actuaries in understanding the application of the Code to various situations that may arise. The ABCD’s annual report is also a great resource to see what kinds of investigations and matters are trending in the profession in the previous year.


The Academy also provides resources that can help you examine what these standards mean for you in your daily practice. We produce a series of very popular, low-cost professionalism webinars each year, featuring in-depth discussions by presenters with significant recognized expertise in professionalism topics such as actuary-to-actuary communication, the qualification standards, Precepts of the Code, and disclosure. By listening to these webinars, available free of charge to Academy members, you can earn professionalism CE credit. Participating in them when they are first presented “live” earns you “organized” CE credit.


The most recent professionalism webinar—“Promoting Ethical Decision-making: Rules, the Human Brain, and Cognitive Biases”—held this month, was a very different approach that took a deep-dive look at the fundamentals of behavioral decision-making and cognitive biases and how they can affect professional judgment. Stay tuned to Academy Actuarial Update and This Week for news on our future professionalism webinars.

Finally, the Academy’s Speakers Bureau (see the March “Professionalism Counts”) offers a way for clubs and large employers to request a knowledgeable and experienced professionalism speaker for training events.


Read more here.