Professionalism Counts, November 2018

The continuing education (CE) requirements under the Qualification Standards for Actuaries Issuing Statements of Actuarial Opinion in the United States (the USQS) apply to all actuaries in the U.S. that issue SAOs, and most do. As we approach year-end, a quick review of the ABCs (and D) of CE may help.

A IS FOR ANNUAL. The CE requirements under the USQS are annual requirements. An actuary must complete at least 30 hours of relevant CE each year. The 30 hours are usually completed in the year prior to the year in which the actuary issues a statement of actuarial opinion (SAO), as defined in the USQS. If you have not accumulated 30 hours of CE by this point in the year, remember, 2019 is right around the corner. If you complete less than 30 hours of CE this year, you can make up the shortfall next year, but must do so before issuing an SAO. Just keep in mind that making up this year’s CE shortfall next year will not count toward next year’s 30-hour requirement. Once the shortfall from a prior year has been made up, the actuary must complete 30 hours of relevant CE in the current year to issue an SAO in the subsequent year.

B IS FOR BETTER. CE should make you a better actuary. An actuary is responsible for making “a reasonable, good-faith determination of what [CE] opportunities will enhance the actuary’s ability to practice in a desired field.”1 The USQS requires an actuary to take CE that is “relevant” or “directly relevant” as these terms are defined in the context of the General or Specific Qualification Standards. Actuarial science is described as a “constantly evolving discipline” in the USQS, and “if actuaries are to provide Principals with high-quality service, it is important that they remain current on emerging advancements in actuarial practice that are relevant to the Actuarial Services they provide.” And, it is not just actuarial science that is evolving: You are, too. During your career, you will take on greater responsibility and face new and different professional challenges. You may even change practice areas. And that means what is “relevant” to you—the CE that will make you a better actuary—will evolve as well. As Academy past President Bob Beuerlein summed up: “CE is part of a lifelong effort to acquire and enhance a continuously changing set of skills. ... Not only do our principals rely on us to keep our skills sharp and up to date ... the well-being of ordinary people—the ultimate beneficiaries of the products and programs we work on—often depends on it, too.”2

C IS FOR COUNTING. You have to count your CE properly. You need at least 30 hours of relevant CE each year. For the purposes of the USQS, an hour is defined as 50 minutes. Under the General Qualification Standard, at least six hours of the 30 must be CE obtained through “organized” activities, which involve interaction with actuaries or other professionals working for different organizations. You need three hours of professionalism CE. You can take as many hours of general business skills as you please, but you can count only three of them toward your 30-hour requirement. To be qualified under the Specific Qualification Standard, 15 of your 30 hours must be “directly relevant” to the topics listed in USQS section 3.1.1 for the applicable NAIC annual statement, and six of those “directly relevant” hours must be obtained through “organized activities.”

D IS FOR DOCUMENT. Do not forget to document your CE. The USQS states that an actuary should “keep appropriate and timely records as evident that their continuing education requirements have been met,” keep these records for at least six years, and be prepared to “substantiate compliance” whenever issuing an SAO.

Now that you’ve learned the ABCs (and D) of CE, review the CE you have completed this year and make sure you have properly counted and documented it. If you find yourself falling short, you have a few weeks to catch up. If you have only a few hours to complete, we strongly encourage you to reread the Code of Professional Conduct and the USQS, as well as standards of practice relevant to your work. And don’t forget the Academy’s online webinar trove—Academy members can listen to archived webinars free of charge at any time they wish. While listening after a live webcast will not count as “organized” activities, it is an economical and easy resource to access if you just need a few more hours outside of that category.

Footnotes 
USQS, Section 2.2.7.
2 Beuerlein, “Don’t Lose Your Way on CE: Remember the ‘Why’!,” Actuarial Update, September 2017, p. 6.