I like this example because it highlights
what I believe are three important components of the thermostat: knowledge of the
rules (the temperature regulation system);
a decision-making framework (a tool to
help determine the desired temperature);
and communication (the method of influencing the temperature). We need each of
these components to put professionalism
First, we need to know the rules. As
noted earlier, a plethora of professionalism
resources are available on the Academy
website that we can use to familiarize
ourselves with the Code and applicable
standards of qualification and practice.[ 4]
In the above case, Joe uses an ASOP to
explain his position to his client.
Second, it is helpful to have a deci-
sion-making framework that can help
you decide when and how to adjust the
temperature of the room. This sounds
complicated, but it is a pretty straight-
forward concept: You have to get used
to thinking about how your professional
standards apply to ethical problems. In
the example above, Joe understood that
pressure from his internal client about
trend selection had professionalism im-
plications to which he needed to respond.
Joe adhered to the Code by following the
ASOPs and by having the integrity to
initiate an honest and possibly difficult
conversation with his client.
Moral analysis is as much a part of being
a professional as the possibility of being
presented with an ethical dilemma in the
first place. You need to think about what
it means to act with integrity, skill and
care, and honesty in the context of your
day-to-day practice. An actuary not only
has to be familiar with the Code and the
standards of qualification and practice,
but must put them into practice. In other
words, “integrity” means that you not only
say you will comply with the Code and
other standards, you actually do it.
More ethical decision-making tools are
available for you to use in this regard. For
example, the Academy has two eLearning
courses that offer a primer on the Code and
a decision-making framework to approach
the top eight ethical concerns of actuaries
identified in the Academy’s survey.[ 5] The
framework asks four basic questions that
actuaries in all practice areas can use to
come to an ethical decision:
■ ■ Compliance—Am I adhering to all requirements, such as the ASOPs, the Code
of Professional Conduct, and laws and
■ ■ Transparency—Am I being open in my
interactions with others?
■ ■ Reputation—Am I upholding my own
reputation and that of the actuarial
■ ■ Doing the right thing—Am I behaving
properly, honestly, and ethically?
The third important component is effective communication—which, to continue the metaphor, helps you influence the
temperature of the room. This may include
communication with the principal, your
colleagues, or others who have a stake in
the resolution of the ethical dilemma. This
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