Academy Presidents: We Need Your Vote

You can make a difference today in our election! 

We urge you to vote “Yes” on Proposal 1 and “No” on Proposal 2 in the Academy bylaw election now underway. Earlier today you should have received a reminder email from our election vendor, Intelliscan, if you have not yet voted. The deadline to vote is this Friday, Nov. 9.
 
Our collective experience on the Academy Board and as volunteers is decades-long. We understand the very distinct and different position that the Academy has in the U.S. actuarial profession. The Academy needs your vote on these proposals to protect its independent voice.
 
The bylaw votes before you are very important because they grapple with some of the profession’s (and society’s) most complex issues. These issues include the relationship between the perceived rights of each member of the Academy or one practice area to shape standards in their own best interests, versus the collective obligation of the profession to establish standards that are in the collective best interest of the public. And make no mistake, establishing standards with an eye toward serving the public is truly in the best long-term interest of the profession as a whole.
 
These are the kinds of votes that define our profession’s values, identity,
and also its soul.
 
The raging debates in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world about national identities have lessons for us. Populist approval is not, in our view, the final arbiter or solution to controversial issues within the profession’s standard-setting activities. The leaders who came together to establish the Academy in 1965 understood that only an organization independent of their own respective organizations could unite the profession in promoting and protecting the values designed to protect the public, and therefore creating credibility and reputational authority for the U.S. actuarial profession.
 
Our nation’s politics have grown increasingly divisive and contentious. Until very recently, however, we have not seen a similar level of divisiveness within the U.S. actuarial profession. We do not doubt that other actuarial organizations want the U.S. actuarial profession to succeed. But the Academy’s mission is different from that of others. The Academy’s commitment to informing public policy and engendering professionalism objectively and independently is what has made the U.S. actuarial profession the most successful self-regulating group of practitioners in the world. It is this mission that uniquely has guided the development of an independent standard-setting process that serves the public as well as the profession—a process that gives every voice an equal and fair hearing through a structured exposure and comment period.
 
Criticisms and questions have, of course, always been raised, but until now with a civility that has recognized our joint commitment to professionalism. And these criticisms and questions, whether from individuals or groups, have always been considered and weighed civilly and professionally—without any need for some portion of Academy members to demand a referendum on their own views.
 
The standard-setting process must be independent from the interests of specific individuals or organizations that represent factions of practice. Our actuarial standards of practice are the settled statement of appropriate practice—in other words, they are the defining statement of what we as practicing actuaries owe the public we serve. In a polarized practice area, as the pension practice area is, it is especially crucial to have an institution like the Academy and its standards-setting board whose mandate is to identify appropriate practice that protects the public and thus serves the profession. It is the Academy’s job to decide how best to protect the U.S. profession’s core values, regardless of public opinion.
 
We cannot afford to politicize the Actuarial Standards of Practice. If we do, we will lose any right to claim the public’s trust. Politicization is what the petition campaign being waged against the Academy is about.
 
The bylaw proposal put forth by a very small group of Academy members is an attempt to undermine public confidence in the integrity of a highly transparent and open standard-setting process that has achieved enormous respect and acceptance of the profession by the public. Its proponents have made statements about the process that are demonstrably untrue. This campaign has been marked by exploiting practice-specific partisanship and, in some cases, hyperbolic rhetoric to convince members that the Academy Board or its standard-setting bodies cannot be trusted to do the right thing. The extensive history of the Academy demonstrates otherwise.
 
Those leading this effort have no obligation to act in the best interest of the Academy or the profession. This effort would sacrifice the profession’s reputation for independence and objectivity to serve their commercial or other organizational interests. This is corrosive, not only of the Academy’s independence and objectivity, but also the profession’s ability to self-regulate. The Academy was created in 1965 to represent a uniquely U.S. actuarial profession and to implement and serve as a caretaker for shared, unifying, profession-wide values. It has done that through the setting of robust standards of conduct, practice, and qualification and in the public policy analysis and input that occurs in and through Academy committees and structures. As a result, the Academy is uniquely recognized by state and federal policymakers as an independent and objective speaker and representative of the whole U.S. actuarial profession, clothed with the mission of serving the public that transcends the commercial interests of our members.
 
Any one of us would be happy to discuss our views with any one of you. Whatever you do, please vote before the election closes Friday, November 9.
 
You should have received a reminder email today from our election vendor, Intelliscan, if you have not yet voted. If you have not received a ballot (some have been caught in spam filters, etc.) please let the Academy know (mickelson@actuary.org) and another will be sent to you by the vendor individually.
 
Thank you for your attention. Please vote.
 
Shawna Ackerman Cecil Bykerk Tom Terry
Steve Alpert Ken Hohman Tom Wildsmith
Bob Beuerlein Mary D. Miller D. Joeff Williams