By Lisa Slotznick
As a new actuarial student, my bosses and supervisors encouraged Academy membership as the pinnacle of actuarial achievement: the equivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for the actuary. To find myself as Academy president—to be guiding the organization that provides that imprimatur—places me in an undreamed-of position that my younger self would not consider.
One of my goals as Academy president is to highlight the value of Academy membership. Academy membership confers the stamp of a high bar of professionalism—the Academy is the home of U.S. actuarial professionalism—backed by ongoing thought leadership on new and emerging practice; favorable views by regulators (after all, Academy membership is codified in many statutes as being required to sign statements of actuarial opinion); actionable insights into public policy issues that affect our practice, both those at hand and those coming down the pipeline; continued education opportunities on issues impacting our everyday lives and actuarial practice; and many more benefits. It’s true what they say: Membership has its privileges.
Membership Requirements and Competency Framework
Membership requirements in the Academy have not been static. The types of education, attestation, and recommendations required for membership are continually reviewed and have changed over time. The Academy intentionally considers the existing and evolving needs of the profession and the various public stakeholders it serves to establish timely and relevant requirements for membership. By looking deliberately at the competencies needed to be a practicing actuary in the U.S. and mapping these competencies to the educational curriculum covered by actuarial credentials, the Academy adjusts its membership requirements.
The Academy is conducting a regular assessment of its membership requirements, including the actuarial credentials accepted for entry and the competencies expected of all actuaries practicing in the United States. The Academy’s Competency Framework—new terminology for us—is being updated and used to help the Academy assess and determine requirements for Academy membership. Academy membership and the MAAA designation will maintain its value because of this continual reassessment and confirmation of the competencies of new members. Not to worry: existing members will maintain and renew their knowledge and competencies through continuing education, so there’s no impact on existing members.
During 2024, the Academy will finalize our mapping of the current curricula of the Society of Actuaries and Casualty Actuarial Society to the Academy’s new Competency Framework. The membership application will continue to evolve to include not only the application form itself but also a possible attestation to certain knowledge, experience, and potentially a means of demonstrating completion of specified educational opportunities. The specifics will be rolled out later in 2024 for implementation to applicants for membership in 2026.
Any proposed change to the application or attestation of knowledge will not impact current members. Members will have access to any additional educational materials provided for their information and continuing ed purposes.
Why the Academy?
The Academy was established to assure that the actuarial profession in the U.S. would maintain its self-regulated status and continue to protect the public through its input and service to the financial security systems in the U.S. But that service and input in turn was expected to generate trust in the work of the actuary that would continue this cycle of trust and protection. Our self-regulated status is secured by making sure that Academy membership continues to mean that our members are knowledgeable and competent to practice in the U.S. and abide by the Code of Professional Conduct.
The Academy holds a unique position as the only actuarial organization that focuses solely on the competency of actuarial professionals in the United States. From this position, it continues its original charge of focusing on continuing the self-regulation of the profession. The Academy often works with regulators who are in a position of regulating the actuaries’ principals, thereby influencing our practice—but not regulating us. In our public policy work, we continually support actuarial practice by providing an independent and objective view on issues, thereby further reinforcing the value of putting trust in actuaries and the role of the Academy.
Let’s continue to work together to protect our brand as actuaries, keeping us as self-regulated professionals through the level of competency in U.S. practice represented by membership in the Academy.
LISA SLOTZNICK, MAAA, FCAS, is president of the Academy.
 Definition of “Principal” from the Code of Professional Conduct: “A client or employer of the Actuary.”