A ‘Checklist Manifesto’ for Professionalism?

I WRITE THIS SHORTLY AFTER CHRISTMAS OF 2016. As always, the season was marked by the challenge of finding presents for people who already have every material thing they really need or want. For such recipients, I often purchase things that everyone needs to replace sooner or later, such as gloves or umbrellas. Less commonly, I buy them a book … Read More

Peer Review—Small Investment, Big Return

THE COMMITTEE ON PAPERS of the Royal Society of London is traditionally credited with establishing editorial peer review in 1752 to oversee the review and selection of texts for publication for its nearly century-old journal, Philosophical Transactions—hence the use of the word “peer,” referring to the English peerage system of nobles. For purposes of this article, peer review will be … Read More

The Dog Ate My Homework, and Other Justifications

I AM A MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER, and have served on the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline (ABCD) for six years. I think I have heard everything. You may recall your childhood years and the imaginative excuses kids offer up for forgetting assignments and notes from school. As an adult, you likely have heard many justifications for poor or late … Read More

Test Your Professionalism IQ

If it has been awhile since you earned your actuarial credentials—and if you enjoyed taking exams as much as I did—this article should be entertaining as well as educational. In a nod to nostalgia, I have created an older-style exam; rather than short-answer format, it consists of six multiple–choice questions and four true/false questions. You can find the answers on … Read More

Whose Assumptions Are They?

THIS ARTICLE DISCUSSES the actuary’s responsibility for assumptions. It is told from a health actuary’s perspective because that is the work I did, but its principles apply equally to all practice areas. Amanda Actuary was reviewing a rate filing for Super Start-Up Health Plan (SSUHP) that had been prepared by Jason Modeler. Jason was an up-andcomer at their small actuarial … Read More

No Fee, No Foul?

A FEW YEARS AGO, MY SISTER-IN-LAW, SUSAN, asked for my advice. She was considering transferring her IRA into the defined benefit plan under which she was covered. The transfer would result in greater retirement benefits. She wanted to understand the pros and cons of transferring the money and was especially concerned with whether the conversion rate was fair. We had … Read More

Because I Said So

I USED TO HEAR THE PHRASE “BECAUSE I SAID SO” when I was young. I am not sure why—maybe I was a rebel, or maybe I was just very inquisitive. I tried using the phrase with my niece and nephew when they were young, and although the phrase worked for a while, it didn’t work forever. And for good reason—“because … Read More

Doing the Right Thing

IN NOVEMBER OF LAST YEAR, the profession recognized and cel­ebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the American Acad­emy of Actuaries. And as I thought about that milestone, it triggered a question in my mind. That is, what did we do back in 1965 to make sure that the actuarial services being provided to our various publics were competent, … Read More

The ABCD Process from the Inside

The Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline (ABCD) per­forms several functions for the actuarial profession. We are all aware of the public face of the discipline process and recommen­dations for public discipline. There is, however, another function that is performed behind the scenes. I’m referring to private counseling-the “C” in ‘MCD” -as an outcome of a disciplinary complaint or hearing. … Read More

Don’t Be ‘That Actuary’

I’VE BEEN IN THE PENSION CONSULTING FIELD for over 30 years. Most of the countless actuaries I’ve encountered over the years have exhibited skills and behaviors that I strive to emulate. But others have fallen short of my expectations. From time to time, I reflect on those encounters, and remind myself that I don’t want to be “that actuary.” One … Read More