Applicability Guidelines for Actuarial Standards of Practice

Introduction to the Applicability Guidelines

The five U.S.-based actuarial organizations have Codes of Professional Conduct that require their members to satisfy applicable actuarial standards of practice (ASOPs) when providing actuarial services. ASOPs are authoritative guidance for actuaries practicing in the U.S. and are issued by the Actuarial Standards Board (ASB).

The Applicability Guidelines (AGs) are intended to suggest to actuaries which ASOPs might provide guidance to them on more common assignments. AGs are not themselves guidance and are not published by the ASB. Rather they are similar to practice notes also published by the American Academy of Actuaries in that they are both resources for, but not guidance to, practitioners. Practitioners are not obligated to comply with them.

Actuaries need to be aware that different ASOPs apply to the various tasks they perform. These applicability guidelines provide actuaries with a non-authoritative reference to standards that usually apply to various actuarial assignments, but do not apply to actuaries in their roles as general managers, investment advisors, etc. The guidelines are published by the Council on Professionalism of the American Academy of Actuaries.

The scope of the AGs is only the ASOPs (including Exposure Drafts of ASOPs). The AGs reference neither monographs, practice notes, or other informational resources nor guidance of other bodies (such as the FASB or the NAIC) that may apply to actuaries working on particular assignments.

Current ASOP Exposure Drafts as of the date of publication of the AGs are included (in a separate sheet) to give practitioners a convenient reference to what the ASB is considering. Typically, matters of substantial importance are resolved at each step of the exposure draft process of a revised or new ASOP.* Exposure drafts are not guidance, and practitioners are not required to follow them.

The guidelines list tasks commonly performed by actuaries in the different practice areas. Next to this list of tasks is a list of the ASOPs that usually apply to each task. Other tasks that actuaries may perform, but that do not require an actuarial background, have been excluded from this list.

The guidelines are meant to encourage professionalism among actuaries, but they are not exhaustive or authoritative. Ultimately, the actuary is responsible for identifying the standard or standards that apply to each assignment and for applying such requirements appropriately when performing that assignment.

Actuaries may find it helpful to review all sections of the applicability guidelines that might apply to them when performing particular tasks. For example, life actuaries performing an appraisal of a life company writing health coverages may wish to review the health section as well as the life section.

The guidelines are updated periodically. The actuary is responsible for keeping current with changes to the ASOPs and determining that professional services rendered by the actuary or under the actuary’s supervision satisfy the current version of each applicable ASOP. Please send suggestions for improving these guidelines (such as additional areas of practice that might be covered) to the Council on Professionalism at

  • For the current Applicability Guidelines, click here.