JBEA Advisory Committee Seeks Applicants

Do you know who develops the examinations you must pass to become an enrolled actuary? When the Employee Retirement Income Security Act was passed in 1974, that responsibility fell to the members of the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries (JBEA). When it became apparent that substantial private-sector assistance was needed to develop the examinations, the JBEA chartered the Advisory Committee on Actuarial Examinations (AC) in 1976.

The AC is responsible for reviewing, editing, and finalizing examination questions. The final examinations however, which are cosponsored by the Society of Actuaries (SOA), the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries
(ASPPA), and the JBEA, must be approved by the JBEA before they are administered.

In addition to preparing the examinations, the AC reviews statistical results of the examinations and recommends pass marks to the JBEA. The committee also assists in developing the syllabi and addresses other issues related to the enrollment examination process.

The JBEA formally renews the AC every two years. Pursuant to an agreement among the three cosponsors of the examinations, the AC is composed of two SOA-sponsored members, two ASPPA-sponsored members, and five at-large members. The current members of the committee are John Benge, Michael Economos, Janet Eisenberg, Robyn Hamilton, Joshua Kaplan, Richard Kutikoff, Maria Sarli, Carl Shalit, and Hal Tepfer.

The term of the current AC ends on February 28, 2015.  It is not known how many of the current members will choose to reapply, however reappointment is not automatic. When forming the new committee, the JBEA looks for a broad cross section of actuaries with either or both of large- and small-plan experience and either or both of single employer and multiemployer experience to ensure that the examinations reflect the skills necessary for the entire defined benefit marketplace.

The JBEA is now seeking applications from enrolled actuaries who are willing to volunteer substantial time and effort on behalf of the enrolled actuary community through service on the AC.  Applicants should be experienced enrolled actuaries in good standing who are thoroughly familiar with the topics on the EA-1 examination - compound interest and life contingencies; and on the EA-2 examination - pension law in EA-2(L) and selection of assumptions, funding, and deductions in EA-2(F). Applicants should also be interested in the academic side of the enrollment process and must be willing and able to participate in the scheduled meetings.

The AC meets four times a year - twice in Washington, DC (in January and July) and twice in other cities (in late April and late October). Members are reimbursed for travel expenses incurred in accordance with applicable government regulations. Portions of the two Washington meetings, which generally last two full days, are devoted to pass mark discussions and discussion of public agenda issues related to the enrollment examinations.
Applicants should be prepared to devote from 125 to 175 hours, including meeting time, to the work of the AC over the course of a year. Several committee members contribute additional time by maintaining drafts of the examinations and of the examination booklet and by dealing with other sundry matters that inevitably arise between meetings.

Service on the AC is an excellent way to stay familiar with the technical side of pension actuarial practice, particularly on topics covered by the EA-2(L) and EA-2(F) examinations. Committee service also provides a strong sense of accomplishment in an area relevant to our practice.

Committee members earn 18 core hours of continuing professional education credit for each full year of participation. Service on the AC also provides an opportunity to develop close camaraderie with experienced actuaries in private industry as well as in the federal government.

Actuaries seeking appointment to the AC should send a letter describing their credentials and experience (particularly mentioning any other professional committees on which they have served) to:

Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries
Return Preparer Office SE:RPO
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Park 4, Floor 4
Washington, D.C. 20224.

The JBEA will consider all applications received by December 5, 2014. If you have questions about the AC, contact Patrick W. McDonough, executive director of the JBEA, at (703) 414-2173 or me at (978) 745-9939.
CARL SHALIT is a consulting actuary in Salem, Massachusetts and is the current chair of the JBEA’s Advisory Committee on Actuarial Examinations.