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

What Is a Profession?

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF when you hear the word “profession”? I would guess that you quickly came up with doctors, lawyers, and actuaries. I generally think of four aspects of one’s work when I consider whether that person is part of a profession: Specialized and rigorous training Public interest and trust Code of conduct Regulation In this article, I … Read More

Why an Actuary Must/Should Read ASOP No. 1

IN THE NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 edition of Contingencies, an article by fellow ABCD member Kathy Riley appeared in this department. That article, in the context of a situation involving a multiemployer pension plan, discussed the importance of the terms “must/ should” and “may,” as used in actuarial standards of practice (ASOPs), the implications with respect to deviation from the guidance of … Read More

A Case Study

THIS ARTICLE IS AN OUTLINE of a “sample” complaint received by the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline (ABCD). As a hypothetical case study, it is intended to provide examples of the types of issues that come before the ABCD when a complaint is made, as well as the typical timeline of events. Let’s assume the ABCD received a complaint … Read More

Six Years Before the Mast

DURING MY SIX YEARS ON THE ABCD, I haven’t seen it all, but I’ve seen a lot of it. Good practice, bad conduct, and unqualified practice. The Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline has averaged about 20 complaints each year since 1992, though the number of complaints has increased lately. Two sources account for most of the increase: a misunderstanding … Read More