That’s So Meta

Several years ago, when the word “meta” first appeared on the scene, I will admit that I had some difficulty understanding what it meant, other than something cool to say as in “that’s so meta.” Of course, I understood it in a specific application such as “metadata” being data about the data, but the typical application escaped me. Cue up Merriam-Webster:

The word meta is Greek and means “among, with, after,” but we can thank New Latin, the language of scientific nomenclature, for its use prefixing the names of certain disciplines. In its most basic use, meta- describes a subject in a way that transcends its original limits, considering the subject itself as an object of reflection.[1] (emphasis added)

As I write this, I am in my first year on the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline and this is my first Up to Code article. In preparing to draft the article, I wanted to tackle some new item or issue, which necessarily meant that I needed to look at what had been written before. And then it occurred to me—an Up to Code article about Up to Code articles. That’s so meta!

There are a couple of reasons I decided to pursue this idea and provide a compendium of prior Up to Code articles:

  • We are actuaries, after all, and historical data is a routine place to look to inform future decisions and actions (appropriately updated for future expected conditions, of course).
  • Thousands of new actuaries have been credentialed since the first Up to Code column. While one may not wish to read the entire body of work, there are undoubtedly relevant articles of interest. Stated differently, those seeking insights on a particular question on professionalism or a well-reasoned perspective on a situation may well find that it is already available … if they know where to look.

The first Up to Code column appeared in the January/February 2006 edition of Contingencies magazine. Since that time, the Qualification Standards for Actuaries Issuing Statements of Actuarial Opinion in the United States (USQS) have changed twice. The first revision took effect January 1, 2008.[2] The second revision took effect January 1, 2022.[3] Additionally, since early 2006 the Actuarial Standards Board has adopted 14 new actuarial standards of practice (ASOPs) and there have been numerous revisions to existing ASOPs. However, the Code of Professional Conduct, which was adopted by the five U.S.-based actuarial organizations in 1992 and last revised as of January 1, 2001, has not changed. Thus, while most of the historic Up to Code articles remain up to date, care should be taken when referencing older articles about the USQS or specific ASOPs.

The table below provides a brief description of the 103 articles that have appeared in the Up to Code column from 2006 to present. Most of the articles are available on the resources page for the ABCD.[4] While the articles are typically written by a member of the ABCD, guest columnists have occasionally been featured.

I enjoyed reading these past articles. Most of them were familiar, whether I remembered reading them before, or they reminded me of similar professionalism situations I had faced or heard about. One thing you will notice as you read the articles is that they often discuss real-world occurrences and professionalism issues, anonymized as needed. So, you, too, may find them familiar.

After reading every Up to Code article from the past 16 years, I have a deeper appreciation of all the professionalism material that is available to us: the Code of Professional Conduct, the ASOPs, the USQS, practice notes, applicability guidelines, and so on—all of which are just a click away![5] The amount of material written by numerous dedicated volunteers is almost overwhelming. Not surprisingly, the themes remain consistent and evergreen, as does the Code.

I hope this summary of Up to Code articles will be a useful resource to you. It will live online, in a clickable format, at And, as you read the articles, should you find a topic of particular interest or an area—new or old—that you would like to be explored, please let us know.

Up to Code Index of Previous Articles

Date Title Author Topic
Jan/Feb 2006  Basics of the ABCD – Who, What, Why, When, Where, How and Why Julia J. Philips Inaugural article describing ABCD structure and process
Mar/Apr 2006  Living with Precept 10 Edward E. Burrows Considerations when transitioning work using a defined benefit pension plan as an example
May/June 2006 ABCD Advice for New Actuaries: Top 10 Ways to Immunize Your Professionalism Julia J. Philips Ideas for providing preventative care to your professionalism
July/Aug 2006 International Actuarial Standards of Practice – Suggestions or Requirements? Lauren Bloom The interaction of Precepts 1 and 3 and US and International Standards of Practice
Sept/Oct 2006 The Look-in-the-Mirror Test Carol R. Sears Precept 2 and the importance of carefully considering whether you are qualified using two case study examples
Nov/Dec 2006 Qualified…or Not William J. Falk Precept 2 and some specific questions to ask in determining whether you are qualified or not
Jan/Feb 2007  An Ounce of Prevention – The First Step Jack Turnquist Considerations in evaluating and selecting potential assignments
Mar/Apr 2007  The Case of the Careless Subordinates – Is an actuary responsible for the work performed by others under his control? Michael Toothman A cautionary tale of undue reliance on subordinates, overconfidence and a lack of quality control
May/June 2007 Mercy or Justice Lawrence A. Johansen A review of the investigative process and the first 15 years of the ABCD 
July/Aug 2007 Precept 13 – A Snitch in Time Edward E. Burrows The importance of Precept 13 in preserving the status of the actuarial profession as a self-regulating body
Sept/Oct 2007 We Need to Do Better Richard Robertson A discussion of common causes leading to an inadequate work product
Nov/Dec 2007 Affordable Virtue – Ethics for Pension Professionals Kurt F. Piper Instilling and increasing ethical behavior – applicable to all – despite the title
Jan/Feb 2008  The Rules are Your Friend Linda Bell Attention golfers! This article discusses the “rules” of the actuarial profession with analogies to golfing
Mar/Apr 2008  Paul’s Puzzle: A Fable for Actuaries Julia Philips A fable of inadequate reserves, internal pressures and professionalism with numerous possible outcomes
May/June 2008 An Actuary Defends Herself Julia Philips An illustrative story on the power of documented compliance with professional standards
July/Aug 2008 Requesting Guidance from the ABCD Tom Griffin A description of the RFG process 
Sept/Oct 2008 Broaching the Subject of Professional Behavior Julia Philips A story of handling a sensitive topic with a coworker
Nov/Dec 2008 Actuaries, Hill Street Blues and Data Security Robert J. Reitz and Beth R. Sanders Tips for proactively protecting data
Jan/Feb 2009  When is a Violation Resolved? William J. Falk An example RFG exploring if an apparent material violation is resolved
Mar/Apr 2009  I’m an International Actuary? Curtis Huntington A reminder that the Code’s scope is not limited to US practice
May/June 2009 Student of Change A Conversation with Carol Sears Getting the message of professionalism out early and often
July/Aug 2009 Interviewing with Integrity Margaret Resce Milkint and Mary Kilkenny Demonstrating integrity in and out of the interview rooms – for candidates and employers
Sept/Oct 2009 Don’t Regret Having Filed a Complaint Julia T. Philips Ways to comply with Precept 13
Nov/Dec 2009 The Carol of the Bells Robert J. Reitz Three warning bells – situations that can lead to problems
Jan/Feb 2010  Moving from Discipline to Guidance Paul Fleischacker Insights from an actuary who moved from investigator to ABCD member
Mar/Apr 2010  In Answer to Your Many Questions Mike Toothman Answers to questions regarding the Code collected from recent presentations
May/June 2010 Your Comments Please: Changing the Disciplinary Process Roger Hayne and Robert J. Reitz A request for comments on changes to the disciplinary process – see summary of answers Jan/Feb 2011
July/Aug 2010 Regulator as Resource John Purple The benefits of developing a professional working relationship with regulators
Sept/Oct 2010 Are You a Rule Follower? Julia T. Philips Five questions to ask in assessing rules
Nov/Dec 2010 Materiality Richard Robertson An exploration of what may be a material violation of the Code
Jan/Feb 2011  Comments on Changing the Disciplinary Process Robert J. Reitz A summary of comments on proposed changes to the disciplinary process
Mar/Apr 2011  Non-Actuarial Services Under the Code Kurt F. Piper Applying Precept 1 to non-actuarial services
May/June 2011 Question Time James Gutterman Impressions from a first-year ABCD member
July/Aug 2011 International Compliance Curtis Huntington Establishing international standards – see more current discussion in the Nov/Dec 2021 issue
Sept/Oct 2011 Are You an Expert? Paul R. Fleischacker Navigating your Precept 13 obligations in expert witness cases
Nov/Dec 2011 A Look at Transparency Robert J. Reitz Balancing confidentiality and transparency 
Jan/Feb 2012  Types of Discipline Nancy Behrens An overview of the types of dismissals and discipline levels
May/June 2012 Peer Review Janet Fagan A critical look at the peer review process and what it can and cannot provide
July/Aug 2012 Keeping the Code Kathy Riley Precept 13 and assessing a potential violation
Sept/Oct 2012 Let’s Be Perfectly Clear James Gutterman A discussion of ASOP No. 41, Actuarial Communications with a focus on responsibility, reliance, disclosure and defending deviation
Nov/Dec 2012 Modeling to Code John Purple Identifies ASOPs to consider for Predictive Modeling (note: predates ASOP No. 56, Modeling)
Jan/Feb 2013  New Year’s Resolutions Nancy Behrens Tips for making a professional development plan and sticking with it
Mar/Apr 2013  Moral Turpitude Curtis Huntington A look at Precept 1-4
May/June 2013 There’s an App for That Janet Fagan The Code of Conduct, ASOPs and the USQS are only a click away
July/Aug 2013 How to Evade the Code Robert J. Reitz Several examples of missteps to avoid
Sept/Oct 2013 Phone a Friend Kathleen A. Riley How the RFG process can work as your professional lifeline
Nov/Dec 2013 New Kid on the Block Rick Block Insights into the ABCD process by a new Board member
Jan/Feb 2014 When Harry Met Sally Janet Carstens An overview of the target timeline for an ABCD complaint. Spoiler alert – this is not a comedy
Mar/Apr 2014 A Show of Hands Nancy Behrens Encouragement to put the Code on your annual reading list
May/June 2014 Owning Precept 13 John Purple Precept 13 is the cornerstone of our profession. Be aware of the requirements.
July/Aug 2014 CE Checklist for Enrolled Actuaries Rick Block Considerations in meeting continuing education requirements
Sept/Oct 2014 You Sign It, You Own It Janet Fagan Reliance on the work of others is both common and acceptable with appropriate disclosures
Nov/Dec 2014 Must or Should? Read ASOP No. 1 Kathy Riley Read ASOP No. 1
Jan/Feb 2015  Six Years Before the Mast Robert J. Reitz Reflections on the cases seen during six years of service on the ABCD
Mar/Apr 2015  A Case Study Dave Ogden An outline of a hypothetical complaint and how it is processed by the ABCD 
May/June 2015 Why an Actuary Must/Should Read ASOP No. 1 Allan W. Ryan An overview of ASOP No. 1 effective June 1, 2013
July/Aug 2015 What is a Profession? Nancy Behrens Defining a profession with a focus on the Code and how we self-regulate the profession
Sept/Oct 2015 Don’t Be ‘That Actuary’ John Stokesbury Examples of potential Code violations 
Nov/Dec 2015 The ABCD Process from the Inside Anonymous Perspectives from an actuary who was the subject of a disciplinary hearing and what they learned and changed
Jan/Feb 2016  Doing the Right Thing John M. Purple A reflection on the Academy’s 50th anniversary and building the professionalism infrastructure on a foundation of doing the right thing
Mar/Apr 2016  Because I Said So Jan Cartsens The need to document what you did and why in selecting data, methods and assumptions
May/June 2016 No Fee, No Foul? Rick Block Three examples of no fee advice – all could be considered Statements of Actuarial Opinion
July/Aug 2016 Whose Assumptions are They? David F. Ogden The importance of scrutinizing the work of others and requirements for disclosing reliance on others
Sept/Oct 2016 Test Your Professionalism IQ Allan Ryan The title says it all – an online 10-question test. A follow-up exam is given in the Nov/Dec 2020 issue.
Nov/Dec 2016 The Dog Ate my Homework, and Other Justifications Janet Fagan Exploring some commonly heard excuses and why they do not hold up
Jan/Feb 2017  Peer Review – Small Investment, Big Return Debbie Rosenberg Uses and benefits of a peer review
Mar/Apr 2017  A ‘Checklist Manifesto’ for Professionalism David Driscoll An encouragement for creating checklists to facilitate compliance with aspects of professionalism with two examples 
May/June 2017 Controlling Communications John T. Stokesbury Examples of situations where a reader might be misled by an actuarial communication and how to mitigate that risk
July/Aug 2017 Lessons Learned John P. Tierney Four common-sense guidelines to good actuarial practice gleaned from a career spanning more than 40 years
Sept/Oct 2017 Control of Work Product – Be Upfront with Clients Godfrey Perrott Steps that can be considered to protect and control the work product, before and after accepting an assignment
Nov/Dec 2017 Precept 1 and ‘Bad Conduct’ Jan Cartsens Examples of bad conduct that have resulted in disciplinary actions from the US-based actuarial organizations
Jan/Feb 2018  To Tell or Not to Tell? Unpacking Precept 13 Rick Block Examples to help us decide what to do in certain circumstances including asking the ABCD for an RFG
Mar/Apr 2018  Precept 10 – Actuarial Disagreements David Ogden A story of disagreeing respectfully and disclosing reliance using a state rate filing example
May/June 2018 Know Your ASOPs Allan W. Ryan An overview of then-recently revised ASOPs 21, 23, 24 and 52
July/Aug 2018 Communicating Uncertainty: The Importance of Acknowledging Limitations David Driscoll Straightforward statements about the limitations of our work are increasingly important to actuarial practice
Sept/Oct 2018 A(E)SOP’s Fables Deborah Rosenberg The ASOPs function to pass along certain core values to the actuary.
Nov/Dec 2018 If You Want to Grow Big and Strong, Eat Your Spinach John Stokesbury A close look at Precept 3 and staying compliant and current with ASOPs – even if you do not like change
Jan/Feb 2019  Hidden in Plain View – The Treasure Trove that is the Academy’s Practice Notes John Tierney An article featuring the Academy’s practice note – Statement of Actuarial Opinion on Property and Casualty Loss Reserves ending with encouragement to be aware of the Practice Notes in your area of practice
Mar/Apr 2019  Feeling Conflicted? The Code Can Help Godfrey Perrott Exploring conflicts of interest – the requirements and considerations of Precepts 6 and 7
May/June 2019 Communicating Clearly with ASOP No. 41 David Ogden A look at ASOP No. 41 and some of the pitfalls to avoid in our rapid-fire electronic world of communication.
July/Aug 2019 Exercising Judgement in a Self-Regulated Profession Allan W. Ryan Maintaining our clients’ and the public’s trust with high standards of service and self-regulation
Sept/Oct 2019 The ABCD Goes to the Movies David Driscoll An exploration of the ABCD process featuring a 1948 musical comedy, Are You with It? (which is about an actuary!)
Nov/Dec 2019 Getting Political – Can an Actuary Weigh in on Thorny Issues? Alice Rosenblatt Considerations when expressing a public opinion, whether actuarial in nature or not
Jan/Feb 2020  Precept 11 – Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth Kenneth A. Kent A discussion of the infrequently highlighted Precept 11, Advertising 
Mar/Apr 2020  Actuarial Assumptions Deborah Rosenberg Identifying, disclosing, and assessing the reasonableness of assumptions with a focus on ASOPs 41 and 43
May/June 2020 Looking for Truth in Shades of Gray John T. Stokesbury Three example cases of complaints before the ABCD 
July/Aug 2020 Communicating the Unknown David Ogden The importance of communicating and disclosing assumptions, reliance and limitations using a novel rate setting example
Sept/Oct 2020 The Gifts and Responsibilities of Age Godfrey Perrott Wisdom is valuable; compliance with continuing education is necessary to maintain technical competence and avoiding a visit to the ABCD
Nov/Dec 2020 Follow-Up Exam Allan W. Ryan An exam to test your professionalism IQ in 12 questions – also see the original test Sept/Oct 2016
Jan/Feb 2021  A Little Help From My Friends Albert J. Beer How the RFG process adds value by providing confidential professional advice and counsel
Mar/Apr 2021  The Art of the Possible David L. Driscoll The value of the Code of Conduct and the ASOPs in delineating an actuary’s professional responsibilities
May/June 2021 Follow the ASOPs, Inside and Out Alice Rosenblatt Should there be a difference in the actuarial services provided to an internal or external client? The author details why her answer is “no”
July/Aug 2021 The Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics Ken Kent An exploration of the Code of Conduct, ethics and the decisions we make with examples of determining qualification and disclosing errors
Sept/Oct 2021 Who Knows 14? Debra Rosenberg A tour of the Code of Conduct 
Nov/Dec 2021 Where Do You Practice? William Hines Applicability of the Code of Conduct and ASOPs to international work
Jan/Feb 2022  A Million Little Things John Schubert The importance of the Code and the role of the ABCD using a popular show (with an actuary in a leading role) as an example
Mar/Apr 2022  Risk to the Actuary Richard Kutikoff Identifies numerous risks that actuaries face in performing services and ways to mitigate those risks.
May/June 2022 Mythology and Actuarial Professionalism Albert J. Beer Three common myths debunked
July/Aug 2022 Conflicts of Interest and Codes of Conduct Godfrey Perrott A look a Precept 7
Sept/Oct 2022 Our Resilience David Driscoll A tribute to a recently deceased dear friend, and lessons from his life story pertaining to personal and professional resilience
Nov/Dec 2022 A Fine Mess April Choi Ripped from the headlines: CPA continuing ed exam cheating, and how the situation might have been handled if it had involved actuaries instead
Jan/Feb 2023 Tattoos and Ponytails Tammy Dixon A look at precepts 1 and 2 as they pertain to how an actuary presents to the public
Mar/Apr 2023 That’s So Meta Shawna Ackerman A roundup of every Up to Code article that’s been written

SHAWNA ACKERMAN, MAAA, FCAS, is a member of the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline.


[1] “That’s So Meta: From Prefix to Adjective” | Merriam-Webster

[2] Qualification Standards for Actuaries (American Academy of Actuaries) (

[3] USQS_2021.pdf (

[4] Resources | Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline ( The newest articles are available directly from Contingencies magazine.

[5] See May/June 2013, “There’s an App for That.”