are the first
AS P R O F E S S I O N A L S , those working in certain occupations (doctors, lawyers, accountants, actuaries) commonly adhere to some form of standards and conduct.
These usually include, depending on the profession, continuing edu-
cation (CE), practice standards, and codes of professional conduct.
Professionalism standards come from a variety of sources depending
on the line of work. In many instances, a state licensing board promul-
gates or adopts rules of qualifications, practice, and conduct for the
professions that it licenses.
But consider actuaries. With the exception of enrolled actuaries, who are governed
by the federal Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries, the actuarial profession
in the United States isn’t supervised by any
single government agency. While there
are laws and regulations that affect actuarial practice, the actuarial profession in
the United States has developed a robust
system of self-regulation that establishes
practice standards and conduct and CE requirements to enhance them. This regime
allows professional value to be identified by
those who know best the major issues facing their profession and allows members to
educate one another on complex problems.
It is a great benefit to belong to a profession that utilizes the expertise and skills of
its members to generate the rules that will
guide their actions. On the other hand, it can
be confusing when multiple organizations
have a hand in developing the rules that govern your work.
Beginnings of professionalism
To address concerns about professionalism, different actuarial organizations
were formed many years ago to establish
credentials informing the public that the
individual who holds them is no ordinary
mathematician. Rather, he or she is a rigorously trained actuarial scientist who must
adhere to the high standards that the profession sets for itself.
The Casualty Actuarial and Statistical
Society of America (now known as the Casualty Actuarial Society, or CAS) was founded
in 1914. The Society of Actuaries (SOA) was
incorporated in 1948 out of two predecessor organizations, the Actuarial Society of
America and the American Institute of Actuaries, which date back to, respectively,
1889 and 1909. The Conference of Actuaries
in Public Practice (now the Conference of
Consulting Actuaries, or CCA) was formed
in 1950, and the American Society of Pension Actuaries (now the ASPPA College of
Pension Actuaries, or ACOPA) in 1966.
As these organizations developed, it became evident that there was also a need to
create one actuarial organization (to which
all actuaries, regardless of practice area,
could belong) that would represent to the
public the highest standards of qualification,
practice, and conduct. That organization,
formed in 1965, was the American Academy
of Actuaries, which is designed to respond
to the needs of actuaries and the public on
The hope, initially, was to create one credential for all actuaries through the granting
of a federal charter. But things did not proceed as planned. The Academy instead
became the body through which the entire
profession can influence and establish public policy and professionalism objectives.
For some time, particularly with respect to
professionalism, each organization had its