Communicating Uncertainty: The Importance of Acknowledging Limitations

“I know one thing; that I know nothing.” If you recognize the quotation above as one commonly attributed to Socrates, congratulations. You are probably someone who does well in trivia contests. If you recognize the quotation as one that is commonly incorrectly attributed to Socrates, greater congratulations. You may well be someone who has had to dispel plausible but false … Read More

Know Your ASOPs

As members of any of the five U.S.-based actuarial organizations that has adopted the Code of Professional Conduct must know, Precept 3 of the Code states that: “An Actuary shall ensure that Actuarial Services performed by or under the direction of the Actuary satisfy applicable standards of practice.” For actuaries practicing in the United States, that means following the applicable … Read More

Precept 10—Actuarial Disagreements

Eric Ratesetter walked into his boss’s office and said, “I’ve got a problem.” Melissa Wisdom looked up and said, “All right, let me guess, it’s a State of Arcadia rate filing again.” Eric sighed and said, “Yes.” “Let me give you the background again,” he said. “We have a lot of business in Arcadia, so our experience is credible. Our … Read More

To Tell or Not to Tell? Unpacking Precept 13

“Violations of the Code of Professional Conduct—Precept 13. An Actuary with knowledge of an apparent, unresolved, material violation of the Code by another Actuary should consider discussing the situation with the other Actuary and attempt to resolve the apparent violation. If such discussion is not attempted or is not successful, the Actuary shall disclose such violation to the appropriate counseling … Read More

Precept 1 and ‘Bad Conduct’

In 1984 my husband and I got married and decided to spend three weeks in Europe for our honeymoon. We were young and adventurous (and in retrospect, maybe a little stupid), so we decided to book flights but not lodging—we had no idea what countries/cities we were going to visit—except for our very first night in Amsterdam. Amsterdam did not … Read More

Control of Work Product—Be Upfront With Clients

Recently an actuary contacted the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline about a confidentiality issue. The actuary’s year-end actuarial reports with reserve opinions contained language about who could see the report. The language said that the report contained work papers, trade secrets, and the principal’s confidential information. It was prepared for the use of management and was available for regulatory … Read More

Lessons Learned

I retired from active practice last year after more than 40 years. A major portion of my career was spent as a consultant, back in the days when the Actuarial Standards Board and the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline were just being established. There were times when client situations forced us to determine what constituted good actuarial practice. I … Read More

Controlling Communications

SO, THERE I WAS. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was reading my prior year memo to get up to speed for this year’s project. And one sentence caught my attention. I kept reading it over and over again. Something tickled the back of my brain. And then I remembered. The sentence said the assumption was “not unreasonable.” … Read More

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