Academy FAQs

What is the American Academy of Actuaries?

What is the Academy's purpose?

What are the requirements for Academy membership?

I already belong to another actuarial organization. Why should I join the Academy?

How does the Academy participate in the debate on public policy issues?

How does the Academy maintain standards of professionalism for actuaries?

How are Academy members who violate the profession's standards of conduct disciplined?

What is the significance of the MAAA designation?

What is an actuary? / How do I become an actuary?





What is the American Academy Of Actuaries?
The American Academy of Actuaries is the professional organization that represents and unites actuaries from all areas of practice. The Academy is the voice of the U.S. actuarial profession on public policy and professionalism issues, both domestically and internationally.
 
The Academy was founded in 1965 and is headquartered in Washington. There is a history of the Academy’s founding on the website, as well as a book, movie, and timeline about the Academy’s history, all prepared in conjunction with the Academy’s 50th anniversary.
Vision
The vision of the American Academy of Actuaries is that financial security systems in the United States be sound and sustainable, and that actuaries be recognized as preeminent experts in risk and financial security.

Mission
The American Academy of Actuaries' mission is to serve the public and the United States actuarial profession.

To accomplish this:
  • As the public voice for the United States actuarial profession, the Academy provides independent and objective actuarial information, analysis, and education for the formation of sound public policy;
  • The Academy provides for the establishment, maintenance, and enforcement of high professional standards of actuarial qualification, practice, and conduct;
  • The Academy advances actuarial practice by informing and educating its members on public policy and professionalism issues and current and emerging practices;
  • The Academy identifies and addresses issues on behalf of the public interest on matters in which actuarial science provides a unique understanding;
  • The Academy increases the public's understanding and recognition of the value of the actuarial profession;
  • The Academy provides opportunities for professional development of its members through volunteerism and service to the profession;
  • The Academy facilitates and coordinates response to issues of common interest among the U.S.-based actuarial associations; and
  • The Academy coordinates the representation of the U.S. profession globally.

The American Academy of Actuaries is an 18,500-member professional association whose mission is to serve the public and the U.S. actuarial profession. The Academy assists public policymakers on all levels by providing leadership, objective expertise, and actuarial advice on risk and financial security issues. The Academy also sets qualification, practice, and professionalism standards for actuaries in the United States.
Visit the Applying for Membership page to find out about Academy membership requirements and get a membership application.
Qualified actuaries from every practice area join the Academy, united in their commitment to:
  • help promote high professional standards;
  • contribute to the development of sound public policy; and
  • communicate the profession's value to policymakers, business leaders, and the public.

Professional Distinction:
When you join the Academy, you show your employer, colleagues, and clients that you abide by—and uphold—the Code of Professional Conduct and stay abreast of changes in actuarial practice.

Professional Resources for Members:
  • Actuarial standards of practice define appropriate methods, techniques, and practices in actuarial work.
  • Practice notes offer examples of current approaches to selected actuarial tasks in casualty, health, life, pension, and risk managment and financial reporting practice.
  • Qualification Standards for Prescribed Statements of Actuarial Opinion.
  • Recorded professionalism webinars available at no cost to Academy members. 

For more information about the Academy and to read the Academy's Value Proposition Statements, see the Membership Resources, Services, and Benefits section of the website. 
The major impetus behind the Academy's high-profile legislative participation on Capitol Hill and among the states is the work of our volunteers, all actuarial experts in their fields of practice. Our volunteers help us:
  • prepare and present testimony for federal and state policymakers examining Social Security, Medicare, tax reform, environmental liability, and other far-reaching issues;
  • comment on proposed regulations; and
  • work closely with state officials on pertinent insurance issues.

The Academy's skilled staff and senior fellows work with our volunteers to provide practical and timely information that is of value to our many audiences, including actuaries, regulators, news media, and legislators.

Our councils direct the Academy's public policy efforts. The casualty, financial reporting, health, life, pension, and professionalism councils ensure that Academy work products, public statements, and information are impartial and based on competent analysis.
The Academy upholds the profession's standards by continual encouragement to all members to abide by the Code of Professional Conduct. This effort encompasses the work of the Actuarial Standards Board (ASB), the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline (ABCD), and the Academy's Committee on Qualifications.

The ASB establishes and improves actuarial standards of practice (ASOPs) for all practice areas. Members of the Academy and members of the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA), Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), Conference of Consulting Actuaries (CCA), and the Society of Actuaries (SOA), along with members of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries practicing in the United States, are bound by the standards.

Aside from developing ASOPs, the ASB also amends, expands, and eliminates these standards to reflect changes in actuarial methods and techniques.

The ASB's operations are supported by Academy staff. In addition to the Academy, the ASB’s operating expenses are contributed to by the other participating organizations: ASPPA, the CAS, CCA, and the SOA.

The ABCD's responsibilities include:
  • providing guidance to practitioners;
  • offering actuaries and the public an avenue for reporting material grievances regarding the professional activities of actuaries;
  • investigating possible violations of the Code of Professional Conduct;
  • counseling members regarding their practices; and
  • recommending to member organizations, when appropriate, courses of discipline for actuaries who violate standards of conduct.

The Academy's Committee on Qualifications establishes qualification requirements for practitioners who issue “statements of actuarial opinion” in the United States. 
The types of discipline the Academy imposes for professional misconduct include private reprimand, public reprimand, suspension from membership, and expulsion from membership. Learn more about those who have been publicly disciplined and why on the Public Discipline page, and for more general information about the discipline process in place to initiate complaints or obtain counseling, visit the ABCD website.
An MAAA® is a member of the American Academy of Actuaries. To employers, clients, and government leaders, the MAAA designation denotes professionalism and credibility.
 
In 1966, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners adopted a resolution supporting recognized standards of actuarial competence and conduct and urging commissioners to support the Academy's efforts to gain official recognition. Most states now have regulations that recognize the MAAA designation as a qualification for signing insurance company annual statements.
Actuaries put a price tag on risk. They are the leading professionals in finding ways to manage risk, and are experts in:
  • evaluating the likelihood of future events;
  • reducing the impact of undesirable events; and
  • designing creative ways to reduce the likelihood of undesirable events.

Actuaries apply their mathematical expertise, statistical knowledge, economic and financial analyses, and problem-solving skills to a wide range of business problems. They help companies evaluate the long-term financial implications of their decisions; they develop new ways to manage risk; and they estimate the costs of uncertain future events ranging from tornadoes and hurricanes to changes in life expectancy.

Actuaries work in all sectors of the economy, though they are more heavily represented in the financial services sector. Their work is the analytical backbone of the nation's financial security programs, including insurance, Social Security, and Medicare.

Some actuaries have degrees in actuarial science, while others have degrees in business, economics, math, or the liberal arts. In the United States, most applicants to the Academy have passed a series of exams given by the Society of Actuaries (SOA), the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), or the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA). The exam process usually takes several years.
 
To learn more about what actuaries do, please visit www.beanactuary.org.
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