Academy Volunteers and Interested Parties: Required Acknowledgment of Your Commitment to Objectivity


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By D. Joeff Williams

Vice President, Council on Professionalism

The Academy’s work requires that its volunteers recognize their obligation to maintain a high level of professional objectivity and independence from any specific interests of members’ employers or from partisanship. To emphasize the importance of remaining objective, each year the Academy Board requires Academy volunteers—and any individual who is an interested party on a committee, whether an Academy member or not—to acknowledge the Academy’s Conflict of Interest (COI) policy. Those who fail to do so may not participate in the work of Academy boards or committees.

The time for making this commitment a reality is now. Academy volunteers and interested parties should have recently received a request to acknowledge the Academy’s COI policy.

Volunteers have an additional responsibility to comply with the continuing education (CE) requirements of the U.S. Qualification Standards (USQS) and are also asked to acknowledge that they have completed their CE requirements. I ask you to respond to this request as soon as possible.

The annual requirement for every Academy volunteer and interested party to submit an acknowledgement of the Academy’s COI policy is one of the measures we use to cultivate and protect our commitment to objectivity. Acknowledging the Academy’s COI policy also shows our recognition that the public’s trust is fundamental to our credibility as a profession and that we, as individuals, have a responsibility to the Academy and to the public it serves on behalf of the profession when we volunteer for the Academy.

When conducting activities for the Academy, Academy volunteers and interested parties are required to disclose actual or potential COI if and when they arise and, as appropriate, recuse themselves from activities that give rise to any such conflict. For both volunteers and interested parties, this annual acknowledgment demonstrates our commitment to professional objectivity, as well as our independence from any specific interests of employers or individuals when participating in Academy committees.

This independence and objectivity is illustrated, in part, by the longstanding requirement that Academy volunteers refrain from disclosing a committee’s work-in-progress other than in a manner consistent with the COI policy and the Academy’s “Guidelines for Making Public Statements.”

All Academy members who are members of an Academy committee must also comply with the CE requirements of the USQS. While Academy work products are not necessarily statements of actuarial opinion under the USQS, the Board requires all Academy volunteers to meet the CE requirements of the USQS in the areas in which they practice.

All Academy volunteers were expected to be in compliance with the CE policy as of Jan. 1. Specifically, actuaries are expected to have completed 30 hours of relevant CE—including 6 from organized activities and 3 from professionalism topics—in 2017 or as otherwise allowed under the USQS. Volunteers may earn CE credits, including organized activity credits, by serving on committees and in other ways described in the FAQs on the USQS.

As a fellow Academy member who serves as an Academy volunteer (and as your vice president of professionalism), I ask you to provide these acknowledgements promptly if you have not already done so. Follow the instructions in the Jan. 31 email or on the membership page under “Volunteer Acknowledgements.”

For more information about the Academy’s commitment to professional objectivity, please visit the Professional Objectivity at the Academy webpage. If you have questions, you may contact the Academy at objectivity@actuary.org. If you experience any technical difficulties, please contact the Membership Department at membership@actuary.org or call 202-223-8196.

(Featured in the January 2018 Actuarial Update.)