UP TO CODE
This is a regular column in Contingencies. Written mainly by members of the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline, "Up to Code" articles reflect the wide variety of issues that are brought to the ABCD’s attention during the request for guidance and complaint processes.
That's So Meta
Several years ago, when the word “meta” first appeared on the scene, I will admit that I had some difficulty understanding what it meant, other than something cool to say as in “that’s so meta.” Of course, I understood it in a specific application such as “metadata” being data about the data, but the typical application escaped me. Cue up Merriam-Webster:
The word meta is Greek and means “among, with, after,” but we can thank New Latin, the language of scientific nomenclature, for its use prefixing the names of certain disciplines. In its most basic use, meta- describes a subject in a way that transcends its original limits, considering the subject itself as an object of reflection. (emphasis added)
As I write this, I am in my first year on the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline and this is my first Up to Code article. In preparing to draft the article, I wanted to tackle some new item or issue, which necessarily meant that I needed to look at what had been written before. And then it occurred to me—an Up to Code article about Up to Code articles. That’s so meta!
There are a couple of reasons I decided to pursue this idea and provide a compendium of prior Up to Code articles:
We are actuaries, after all, and historical data is a routine place to look to inform future decisions and actions (appropriately updated for future expected conditions, of course).
Thousands of new actuaries have been credentialed since the first Up to Code column. While one may not wish to read the entire body of work, there are undoubtedly relevant articles of interest. Stated differently, those seeking insights on a particular question on professionalism or a well-reasoned perspective on a situation may well find that it is already available … if they know where to look.
The first Up to Code column appeared in the January/February 2006 edition of Contingencies magazine. Since that time, the Qualification Standards for Actuaries Issuing Statements of Actuarial Opinion in the United States (USQS) have changed twice. The first revision took effect January 1, 2008. The second revision took effect January 1, 2022. Additionally, since early 2006 the Actuarial Standards Board has adopted 14 new actuarial standards of practice (ASOPs) and there have been numerous revisions to existing ASOPs. However, the Code of Professional Conduct, which was adopted by the five U.S.-based actuarial organizations in 1992 and last revised as of January 1, 2001, has not changed. Thus, while most of the historic Up to Code articles remain up to date, care should be taken when referencing older articles about the USQS or specific ASOPs.
The table below provides a brief description of the 103 articles that have appeared in the Up to Code column from 2006 to present. Most of the articles are available on the resources page for the ABCD. While the articles are typically written by a member of the ABCD, guest columnists have occasionally been featured.
I enjoyed reading these past articles. Most of them were familiar, whether I remembered reading them before, or they reminded me of similar professionalism situations I had faced or heard about. One thing you will notice as you read the articles is that they often discuss real-world occurrences and professionalism issues, anonymized as needed. So, you, too, may find them familiar.
After reading every Up to Code article from the past 16 years, I have a deeper appreciation of all the professionalism material that is available to us: the Code of Professional Conduct, the ASOPs, the USQS, practice notes, applicability guidelines, and so on—all of which are just a click away! The amount of material written by numerous dedicated volunteers is almost overwhelming. Not surprisingly, the themes remain consistent and evergreen, as does the Code.
I hope this summary of Up to Code articles will be a useful resource to you. It will live online, in a clickable format, at contingencies.org/up-to-code-meta. And, as you read the articles, should you find a topic of particular interest or an area—new or old—that you would like to be explored, please let us know.