Professionalism Counts, March 2018

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Academy Professionalism Webinars: Learn From the Leaders of the Profession

The Academy typically offers four professionalism webinars each year. Each of these webinars is carefully chosen and planned to address areas that Academy members have indicated they want to know more about. All of the webinars feature speakers who are leaders of the actuarial profession with significant expertise in professionalism and specific practice areas. Webinar presenters include members of the Actuarial Standards Board (ASB), the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline (ABCD), and the Committee on Qualifications (COQ), as well as distinguished speakers from other Academy boards and committees.

Professionalism webinars are priced to make them easily accessible to all members because the Academy believes that doing so provides the kind of fundamental and continuing professionalism education that supports our mission to serve the profession and the public.

The Academy’s professionalism webinars cover topics of perennial interest, such as “Practical Applications of the Code of Professional Conduct,” as well as breaking professionalism developments. For example, last October, members of the ASB and its committees presented “The Great Assumptions Debate,” which examined key issues raised in comment letters on the exposure draft of a proposed new actuarial standard of practice (ASOP), Setting Assumptions, which would apply to all practice areas. Among other topics, presenters discussed the assessment of reasonability of assumptions individually and in the aggregate, assumptions developed by a team of actuaries, and whether sensitivity analysis should be required. Another webinar focusing on recent developments, “Big Data and Actuarial Professionalism,” examined how to apply existing professionalism tools, such as the Code and ASOPs, to issues that may emerge when working with Big Data.

Last summer, Academy President Bob Beuerlein, along with members of the Council on Professionalism and the ABCD, delved into “Actuary-to-Actuary Communications.” The speakers discussed situations involving possible violations of Precept 10 (“Courtesy and Cooperation”) and Precept 13 (“Violations of the Code of Professional Conduct”) and gave examples of what an actuary could do in such cases.

Actuaries can submit questions on qualifications to the COQ, and the Academy has highlighted the COQ’s interpretations of the U.S. Qualification Standards (USQS) based on these questions in two recent professionalism webinars. The most recent professionalism webinar took note of the information available through questions submitted on qualifications to highlight what most actuaries want to know about the USQS. COQ members explored key qualification issues, including statements of actuarial opinion, experience requirements, the “look in the mirror” test, blended opinions, changes in practice area, and other issues in “A Guided Tour of the U.S. Qualification Standards.” The March 2016 webinar also used the knowledge gained from submissions to the COQ in “Questions and Answers: The U.S. Qualification Standards.” That webinar covered frequently asked questions on topics including statements of actuarial opinion and continuing education (CE)—and the COQ’s carefully crafted answers to them. Both of these webinars, like all professionalism webinars, are available after the live presentation to members without charge on the Academy’s website.

The chairperson and vice chairpersons of the ASB gave “An Overview of Cross-Practice Standards” in 2016, focusing on key terms explained in ASOP No. 1, Introductory Actuarial Standard of Practice; important communication concepts in ASOP No. 41, Actuarial Communications; and key provisions of ASOP Nos. 23 and 25, Data Quality and Credibility Procedures. The presenters explained the important role that cross-practice standards play in helping to unify the profession around common procedures and appropriate practice.

Polls at the end of each professionalism webinar ask what topics you would like to see covered in future webinars, and “real cases from the ABCD” is a common response to these polls. The Academy responded by organizing professional webinars featuring ABCD members discussing case studies based on issues that they have seen, whether as requests for guidance or cases (while maintaining the confidentiality of the cases themselves). Last December, ABCD members presented “Tales From the Dark Side: Ethical Cases at the ABCD,” which drew upon staples of popular culture to provide entertaining and enlightening examples of ethical issues that can arise in actuarial practice. In December 2016, the chairperson and vice chairperson of the ABCD discussed communication issues in “Can You Hear Me Now? Actuarial Communications Under ASOP No. 41.”

By attending the live webinars, actuaries can earn credit that is both “professionalism” and “organized” CE, as they have the opportunity to interact with professionals from outside their organizations by asking questions of the speakers. And, although listening to recordings of professionalism webinars from the Academy webinar archive—available at no cost to Academy members—does not count as “organized” CE, actuaries can still earn up to 1.8 “professionalism” CE credits by listening to archived professionalism webinars.

(Featured in the March 2018 Actuarial Update.)