Professionalism Counts, September 2017

Don’t Lose Your Way on CE: Remember the ‘Why’!
By Bob Beuerlein, President, American Academy of Actuaries


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As the third quarter of 2017 winds down and my year in office as Academy president draws to a close, I want to encourage all of you to make sure that you are on track to complete your continuing education (CE) requirements this year. Over the past year, I have preached the gospel of putting “professionalism into action.” And there is no more basic way that you can put professionalism into action than by making sure that you have completed and documented your CE.

I am also fond of saying that “if we lose our ‘why’, we lose our ‘way.’” So, I want you to understand why we have a CE require­ment. The U.S. Qualification Standards (USQS) explain that “[a]n actuary who issues Statements of Actuarial Opinion … must main­tain necessary expertise through continuing education.”1

The reasons we must maintain necessary expertise are two­fold. To begin with, as an actuary, you have a profound impact on people’s lives. Earlier this year, I asked our members to “[t] ake a moment to think about what is at stake when actuaries don’t put professionalism into action: People’s lives, health, property, retirement, or other critical interests may be harmed. As an actuary, your practice of professionalism can contribute to others’ well-being—or the opposite.”2

Second, when you became an actuary, you chose to master actuarial science, which the USQS describe as “a constantly evolving discipline.”3 And you chose to do so in an ever-chang­ing world marked by increasing economic and technological sophistication. The USQS explain that “[i]f actuaries are to provide their Principals with high-quality service, it is import­ant that they remain current on emerging advancements in actuarial practice and science that are relevant to the Actuarial Services they provide.”4

These two reasons are why the Code of Professional Con­duct requires an actuary to act with competence and “per­form Actuarial Services only when the Actuary is qualified to do so on the basis of basic and continuing education and experience, and only when the Actuary satisfies applicable qualification standards.”5 CE is part of “a lifelong effort to acquire and enhance a continuously changing set of skills,” as I said in my inaugural address to the Acad­emy almost one year ago.

Now, let’s take a quick look at what, exactly, is required. First, you need to earn 30 hours of CE that is relevant to your work.6 Of those 30 hours, at least 3 hours must focus on professionalism topics, which may include topics related to ethics, the Code of Professional Conduct, and standards of qualification and practice. Organized activ­ities, which must involve interaction with actuaries or other professionals working for another organization, must account for at least 6 hours. Conferences, seminars, and webinars that allow for live interaction may all be considered organized activities. Up to 3 hours of business and consulting skills covering topics such as client relationship management, presentation and communications skills, and proj­ect and personnel management may be also counted as CE. For more detail, see the U.S. Qualification Standards and the FAQs on the U.S. Qualification Standards.
The Academy offers a wealth of opportunities to earn CE throughout the balance of this year. The Academy’s Annual Meeting and Public Policy Forum, the Life and Health Qualifi­cations Seminar, and the October and December professional­ism webinars all offer a chance to earn organized and profes­sionalism CE before the end of the year. You may also check the Academy’s events calendar for other opportunities to earn CE.

I cannot stress enough the importance of meeting your CE obligations each year, not only to reinforce what you already know, but to learn about new areas of practice or to keep up with changing technology and law. So, if you don’t want to lose your way in making sure CE makes you a better actuary, remem­ber the “why”: Not only do our principals rely on us to keep our skills sharp and up to date so that we can provide high-quality services to them; the well-being of ordinary people—the ulti­mate beneficiaries of the products and programs we work on— often depends on it, too.

1 Section 1.2, emphasis added.
2 “Professionalism in Action: Are You Modeling Professionalism?” Contingencies, March/April 2017, p. 18.
3 Section 2.2.1.
4 Section 2.2.1.
5 Precept 2.
6 For more on “relevant” CE, see Actuarial Update, June 2017, p. 8.

(Featured in the September 2017 Actuarial Update.)