Friday, March 30, 2012

Professional Standards

I haven't had a good rant for a while, but I think it's time. I am an actuary. For a number of reasons, including the standards of conduct to which we hold the members of our profession, I am proud to be an actuary.

We have a fairly rigorous Code of Professional Conduct. Trust me, this Code is well enforced. The Code tells us that we must adhere to a set of Actuarial Standards of Practice (ASOPs). Those of you who are reading this who are not actuaries would be amazed at the level of compliance with the ASOPs by actuaries. It is extremely high. We take our professional responsibility seriously.

Many actuaries are consultants. When we are viewed as consultants, we are often compared to strategy consultants, IT consultants, human resources consultants who are not actuaries and others with whom we may compete for business from time to time.

It gets frustrating sometimes. I have experienced more situations in my career where consultants who are not actuaries do things that would violate our Code of Conduct, but because of it, they have been viewed favorably. I am not suggesting that actuaries should have a more lax Code of Conduct or that we should not follow it, but I am suggesting that some of the other professions should be viewed less favorably.

Consider a particular large, well-known consulting firm whose name would probably be second nature to most of you. I have worked side-by-side with them on several assignments. On two of those assignments, they actually signed off on their own actuarial assumptions. They have neither the training nor the expertise to do so, but they do not belong to a professional organization or even a profession that seems to hold them to any level of standard. Clients believe them because of who they are. In my first-hand experience with them, they have gotten things wrong ... very wrong.

OK, I'm done with my rant. If you deal with actuaries, hopefully you have had positive experiences regarding professionalism. Check out our Code of Conduct. See if it gives you a new-found respect for the profession.

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