Actuaries, Data Security, and Hill Street Blues

Imagine sipping your Starbucks one morning and reading this headline: “Court Awards  <insert painfully large dollar amount> for Privacy Violation. <insert your firm’s name> to Appeal.” It really could happen to you or your employer—or both. Many otherwise upstanding companies that never expected to be associated with that type of headline have been found guilty of violating customer privacy. A … Read More

Broaching the Subject of Professional Behavior

As I was walking down the row of cubicles late Friday afternoon, thinking about the glorious weekend ahead, I saw that another student actuary at Excellent & Reliable Insurance Co. had lingered at his desk after quitting time. “Hey, Joey, you need to pack up and go instead of staring at a blank computer monitor,” I said. “Oh, I’m just … Read More

Requesting Guidance From the ABCD

My phone rang, and I grabbed it. “I need guidance,” said the voice on the other end. “Um, OK,” I responded “I saw the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline’s e-mail and office addresses on its website, but I’m calling because I need to remain anonymous—at least for now. I just took over as the enrolled actuary for a defined … Read More

An Actuary Defends Herself

The following fictional presentation of opening statements in a lawsuit is purely hypothetical. It’s intended to illustrate the many ways in which our profession’s official standards can help an actuary give his or her clients a complete, sound, and accurate work product and guard against unfounded accusations.   CASE: Aaron Burr Smith Inc. Widget Factory and Donut Shoppe (plaintiff) v. … Read More

Paul’s Puzzle: A Fable for Actuaries

Paul Plesiosaur was the pricing and reserving actuary at Raptor Health Plan, a small health maintenance organization located in his hometown of Pleistocene Crossing in the Rust Belt section of the Midwest. He had done very well at the state university, passing two actuarial exams and graduating with a 3.6 average. Although he could have taken a position with a … Read More

The Rules Are Your Friend

When I was learning to play golf, I first heard “the rules are your friend” when I complained about having to count two extra strokes after my ball bounced off the wall of a bunker and hit my foot. “No way,” I thought, until quite a bit later when I realized that while the rules sometimes irk me, they can … Read More

Affordable Virtue—Ethics for Pension Professionals

If the 1980s became known as the Decade of Greed, the 1990s could be called the Decade of Ethics. Many traditional professions and large corporations began efforts to promote business ethics. The Chicago Board of Trade required all futures traders to take ethics class. The actuarial profession created a unified body, the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline (ABCD), for … Read More

We Need to Do Better

Most of the cases that come before the ABCD don’t involve dishonesty, fraud, intent to deceive, or other lack of integrity on the part of practicing actuaries. As a profession, we can be proud that such situations are rare. Neither do many cases involve an actuary failing to resist inappropriate pressure from an employer or client to modify actuarial conclusions. … Read More

Precept 13—A Snitch in Time

John was finishing attendance at a continuing education session. It had been a long session covering complex new material. John knew he needed credit for the session to stay current with qualification requirements. More important, he knew that if he mastered the material being presented he would increase his competence as a practicing actuary. Nevertheless, maintaining concentration for the entire … Read More

Mercy or Justice

The Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline (ABCD) was created in 1991, effective Jan. 1, 1992, through the addition of Article X to the Bylaws of the American Academy of Actuaries. The ABCD has now completed 15 full years of operation, and a review of its operations seems timely. The ABCD derives its authority from the five U.S.- based actuarial … Read More