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Insights into the NAIC Assessment of Educational Programs for Qualified Actuary Definition

By Rachel Hunter posted 07-01-2019 09:09

  

The CAS announced last month that the NAIC had completed its assessment of the CAS’s educational materials against new minimum educational standards to define a qualified actuary, and concluded that CAS designations are assessed as NAIC Accepted Actuarial Designations for the 2019 Statement of Actuarial Opinion instructions. The SOA also announced that the NAIC completed the same process for the SOA’s FSA-General Insurance (GI) Track, and that the NAIC concluded that the SOA’s GI track is also an accepted actuarial designation, meeting NAIC standards of a qualified actuary in general insurance.

We received a number of questions from candidates about the CAS and SOA announcements and sought out some answers. CAS President Jim Christie agreed to provide additional insights.

FF: What’s your reaction to the NAIC decision to recognize FSA-GI as qualified to sign Statements of Actuarial Opinion? 

JC: I understand that for some CAS candidates, these developments may have been unexpected, but for those within the CAS working with the NAIC on the assessment, this outcome was expected, so I don’t think I had any particular reaction. The CAS and the SOA have been working with the NAIC over the past year on this assessment, at the NAIC’s request. Both organizations provided input to the NAIC on the knowledge statements that we believed an appointed actuary needs to know. Both organizations were provided with the final set of objective knowledge statements and asked to map our educational materials to the minimum standards. It was clear what was required of our educational programs, and therefore how we needed to meet the standards. Our ACAS credential, with successful completion of Exam 6-US and Exam 7, is recognized as meeting the standard, while an FSA-General Insurance is required on the SOA side.

FF: With the SOA GI track now recognized by the NAIC as producing qualified actuaries for signing P/C Statements of Actuarial Opinion, why should prospective actuaries take CAS exams? 

JC: There are a number of reasons that I believe that candidates interested in a career as a P/C actuary would want to earn CAS credentials.

Signing a Statement of Actuarial Opinion is one of an actuary’s most important responsibilities. It conveys that the actuary has completed a rigorous review of an insurance company’s reserves and has concluded that the insurance company will be able to meet its obligations to its policyholders. Given the weight of the responsibility and the CAS’s proven and well-established track record, built over 100+ years, in reliably educating and credentialing P/C actuaries, I think it will be quite a while until companies are comfortable turning to non-CAS members to handle that responsibility. I recognize that it does already happen today, but those instances are on an exception basis and quite rare.

The FCAS credential represents actuaries who are well-prepared, with a depth and breadth of knowledge, for the wide range of work that actuaries do today. I think this is an important point. Only about 445 CAS members, or about 5% of our membership, signed Statements of Actuarial Opinion in 2017. Our members are prepared to perform the entire range of P/C actuarial work, from ratemaking, to predictive modeling, to capital management, to reinsurance, and so much more. Because of this, CAS credentials are in high demand with P/C employers.

In fact, employers of P/C actuaries are clearly demonstrating growing support for the CAS exam track. In 2018, we administered over 7,000 exams, which was the highest number of exam registrations in one year. And for the Spring 2019 exam sitting, CAS gave over 4,000 exams, exceeding 4,000 in one exam sitting for the first time.

One of the reasons for the employer support is that CAS exams are developed by practicing actuaries for practicing actuaries. Utilizing the experience of practicing actuaries as subject matter experts allows us to develop exam content that is relevant in actual practice. I believe we have over 1,000 experienced CAS Fellows, who are among the thought leaders in the P/C insurance industry, contributing to our credentialing program. And because our exams are developed by practicing actuaries, we are well-positioned to continually update our educational programs to keep up with new technologies, advanced methodologies, and emerging areas of actuarial practice. This has allowed CAS members to be increasingly employed in risk management roles in non-insurance organizations such as banks, as well as in technology companies like Uber, Lyft, and Google.

Finally, educational programs aside, I believe the best reason for pursuing actuarial credentials through the CAS is our community. To me, and many other members, that’s what sets us apart. When you earn CAS credentials, you’re welcomed into a community of over 8,000 other P/C actuaries who have made the CAS our professional home. We are the first place P/C actuaries turn to for professional development and career advancement because we offer over 100 continuing education opportunities annually. We are a trusted, valuable resource for members throughout their careers.

FF: Is there anything you would like to add? 

JC: As CAS President, I believe in the CAS and our credentialing program. For many years, we have set the standard for P/C actuarial practice and will continue to do so far into the future, and competition will only make us better.

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Comments

07-22-2019 10:47

RE: international presence

Brian, that is an interesting perspective regarding the future of FSA-GI. I was able to do a little digging and found some statistics regarding CAS members/candidates in Asia (unable to find stats for other non-US based members). We have been seeing significant growth in CAS exam takers in Asia over the last  few years, growing approximately 16% annually. Currently around 3% of CAS members and 11% of total CAS exam registrations are located in Asia, indicating a stable source of membership growth in that region. 

Note that these stats are for CAS exams only, and do not include the preliminary SOA exams.

My personal opinion is that an influx of non-US FSA-GI members into US P&C companies will have an insignificant effect on the penetration of that designation in the US job market, especially in the short term. There may be a few instances of that occurring, but I don't see why a US P&C company would go out of their way to hire international FSA-GI when there is already a pool of domestic FCAS and ACAS available (considering that an ACAS+Exam 7 is equivalent to FSA-GI in the eyes of the NAIC).

I do believe it is only a matter of time before FSA-GI becomes widely accepted in the US, but due to factors other than the ones we are discussing.

07-03-2019 12:27

This Should Have Been Brought Up in SOA/CAS Merger Conversation

I'm curious as to why the CAS didn't disclose this when the question of merging with the SOA was brought up. If both societies have been working on this for the past year, then the CAS would have known that the SOA's GI track would likely be NAIC-accepted at some point in the near future. That seems like information that might have impacted the opinions of the FCAS's, ACAS's, and Candidates who were asked to share their opinion in advance of the CAS Board of Directors' vote.

07-02-2019 10:23

international presense

I'm not sure if this change will have significant effect outside United States, but would be curious to know how many actuarial students working in P&C outside NA are currently on CAS track vs SOA track.

P&C companies in the US might prefer their students to be on CAS track and that could be major roadblock for SOA for now. However, companies might be okay hiring experienced SOA-GI actuaries from overseas, and that can slowly shift ratio of FCAS to FSA-GI in US P&C company, eventually leading to wide acceptance of SOA-GI track in the future. I'm probably thinking too far ahead, but this just came across my mind.

07-01-2019 15:01

Agreed but still a concern

I appreciate the community in the CAS, as well as the breadth of educational topics provided in our examination structure. However, I feel as though the development with the SOA's FSA-GI track, there is now an underdog in the P/C world trying to fight their way to the top.

 

I agree that there is something to be said of an organization with 100+ years of reliable education and credentialing; however, with the rate of change in the world around us it's dangerous to not consider this change in NAIC approval being a rival to our credential path.

 

Yes, only a few people actually sign opinions; but the knowledge base necessary for the NAIC to approval a credential to be accepted in signing an opinion is very broad - it takes 8 of our exams to do so! So, if the NAIC believes the FSA-GI track is sufficient to sign an opinion, I'd be willing to bet it provides a wide range of knowledge that would be applicable to a wide range of work that P/C actuaries do today.

 

Time will tell if their educational program will be effective in transitioning to a practical application in the workforce and how long it will take employers to accept the newer credential in the P/C world, but I think it's inevitable that the popularity of this track will increase as time goes on. It is promising to hear about the record number of sittings for the CAS exams (though I'd be interested to know if number incorporates the fact that the CAS now offers more exams than it did prior to 2018 due to changes in prelim overlap); but I worry that if we remain complacent towards this development that trend will reverse as future candidates may begin to chose the FSA track over the CAS for P/C actuarial work.