The Academy is gearing up for an exciting and productive 2024.
It’s a new year, and with the turn of the calendar comes excitement that invigorates us all, driven by new possibilities and endless opportunities for change. We set big goals for the year ahead and resolutions that we hope to keep, all in the pursuit of being better, doing better, and making an impact. The Academy is no different. With the leadership of its Board and staff, it too sets big goals and aims to be better, do better, and make an impact, all in the name of delivering value in service to its almost 20,000 members and many public stakeholders.
As a reminder, the Academy’s mission is to serve the public and U.S. actuarial profession. It achieves this mission by amplifying the voices of its almost 20,000 members through over 300 work products developed annually—from standards to issue briefs and practice notes to comment letters and webinars—covering critical topics ranging from climate change and data bias to AI, cyber, and more.
Working with and on behalf of its members, the Academy engages public stakeholders at the state, federal, and international levels, ensuring that key decision-makers are informed of the issues and the unique perspectives and roles of actuaries, who are guided by the elements of professionalism and self-regulation. The Academy’s efforts to guide actuarial practice, to promote the importance of professionalism, and to inform decision-makers on critical policy issues lead to better, more informed decisions for the many stakeholders we serve. An enhanced understanding of the important role actuaries and the Academy play provides our many stakeholders the assurance that the financial security systems in the United States are sound and sustainable—all of which protects and benefits us as members of the public.
As we look to 2024, the Academy’s focus remains the same—to serve the public and U.S. actuarial profession. We will do this as the Academy and in collaboration with our many peer organizations within and outside of the actuarial space. Internally, we often speak of being “One Team, One Mission,” and I think this is critical for the Academy community and extends beyond the Academy to highlight the importance of amplifying our voices and efforts to ensure the actuarial profession remains strong, growing, and on the radar of our many stakeholders who benefit from its existence and impact. We are stronger together.
Staff leadership has outlined the many priorities and areas of focus to support fulfilling this mission and ensuring value to our almost 20,000 practicing members and public stakeholders in the United States. The sections below highlight those priorities and provide a glimpse into what our members and stakeholders can expect in the year ahead. We encourage and welcome our members, prospects, peer organizations, and many public stakeholders to join us as we continue to be the organization focused solely on actuaries in the United States and the voice for professionalism and public policy.
With the new year comes opportunity and the Academy is gearing up to meet the challenge that a new year brings on behalf of our members, the broader profession, and the public we serve in the United States.
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Communicating Effectively and Improving Awareness
A key component in amplifying the voice of the Academy and the profession is a strategy to get the word out across diverse audiences through a myriad of formats and channels. Currently, the Academy utilizes an omni-channel approach, leveraging about 30 different channels in communicating the many tools and resources available to our members, prospects, and public stakeholders. Some of these channels are tried and trusted (newsletters, emails, Contingencies magazine, and social media); others are used more judiciously (presentations, podcasts, whiteboards, and media briefings). Throughout the year, Academy staff review member trends and data coupled with the various work products coming out of Academy committees and decide which channels are most appropriate for each and the mix that that are most preferred by our members and stakeholders. Most Academy content goes out using five to 10 channels, with the most prominent utilizing many more.
In 2024, our main area of focus will be on strengthening the Academy message of service and reinforcing the value membership delivers to multiple audiences across a diverse set of channels. This will include revitalizing our various websites—most prominently actuary.org and contingencies.org, both of which will be receiving complete makeovers. The plan is to integrate the various elements of the Academy’s work in professionalism, public policy, membership, and continuing education into a seamless whole, displaying the full value of membership to visitors and offering a responsive and intuitive user experience that encourages engagement and dialogue, no matter where you land on the site or how you travel through it. The current plan is that the new site will be ready before the end of 2024 and will include all the various sites that the Academy manages under its umbrella, ensuring that all visitors know that the American Academy of Actuaries is a resource for members and stakeholders, speaking and educating on public policy and professionalism topics for the profession and public and continuing to be the home of U.S. actuarial professionalism and practice.
Another key component of growing the Academy’s reach and impact is through collaboration with our peer actuarial, affinity, and academic organizations. This year will see the Academy expand the reach of our Speakers Bureau to continue spreading the importance of professionalism and including more updates on critical public policy issues for actuarial clubs, employers, academic institutions, and more. We will further our collaboration with the Society of Actuaries, Casualty Actuarial Society, Conference of Consulting Actuaries, Canadian Institute of Actuaries, and the American Society of Enrolled Actuaries—sharing knowledge, speakers, and content to ensure our community is informed of the many resources available to them and engaged in being ambassadors for their own profession. As an organization, a priority will continue to be investing in and supporting the work of organizations like the Actuarial Foundation, IABA, NAWA, OLA, SANA, SAGAA, and Abacus to ensure the current profession and future pipeline into it remains strong, diverse, and supported by the Academy as a resource for professionalism, policy, education, member community, and more.
The Academy develops and delivers over 300 publications across more than 30 channels, and our focus this year will be on ensuring our members, stakeholders, and partners are aware of all those resources in formats and channels that work for them, when they need them!
—David J. Nolan
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications
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Advancing Professionalism and Practice
Based on the recent Member Value Survey, professionalism is core to the value the Academy delivers to its members and stakeholders. In 2024, the Academy’s Professionalism Department will continue to reinforce the three pillars upon which actuarial professionalism and self-regulation rest: qualifications to provide professional services, adherence to the profession’s standards of practice, and compliance with the professional standards set forth in the Code of Professional Conduct.
The Professionalism Department assists the Academy in fulling its mission to provide for the establishment, maintenance, and enforcement of high professional standards of actuarial qualification, practice, and conduct. It helps the Academy fulfill this mission in several ways:
- As the home to the Actuarial Standards Board (the ASB), the body responsible for establishing actuarial standards of practice to guide actuaries as they perform a wide range of professional services in the United States.
- Maintaining the Committee on Qualifications, a committee charged with investigating issues arising with respect to the minimum requirements necessary to qualify members to perform publicly required actuarial functions and recommending to the Academy Board of Directors minimum qualification standards.
- As the home to the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline, the body charged with investigating complaints against actuaries, counseling actuaries in professional practice, and recommending appropriate discipline to the membership organizations for actuaries who are found to have breached the Code of Professional Conduct.
- Assisting the Council on Professionalism & Education, which oversees the Academy’s work on professionalism issues and educational opportunities. Under the Council, the Professionalism Department assists in maintaining numerous committees that focus on various aspects of actuarial professionalism and education, including the Committee on Education, a committee that supports the Academy’s current and future educational efforts including the creation and development of any necessary education resources; the Committee on Professional Responsibility, a committee that promotes knowledge of professionalism within the profession through the publication of discussion papers; and the Joint Committee on the Code of Conduct, a committee, a committee that monitors the Code of Professional Conduct of the U.S.-based actuarial organizations and recommends necessary amendments to the code to all of the U.S.-based organizations.
The Professionalism Department’s goal for 2024 is to foster members’ desire to maintain professionalism and reinforce its relevancy and importance in their daily practice and to provide members with the tools to do so. In addition, we will continue to engage various public stakeholders within insurance and other relevant fields in better understanding the existence and importance of our professional and qualifications standards, Code, counseling and discipline process, and role of self-regulation.
Senior Director, Professionalism
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Informing Public Policy and Deepening Stakeholder Relations
I’m frequently asked whether I have a reliable magic 8-ball when it comes to public policy predictions for a new year. It goes without saying that the frequency of that question exponentially increases during presidential election years. While I have yet to find an entirely accurate prognostication tool when it comes to identifying every public policy issue that will make headlines, I have learned the value of a strategic plan coupled with a willingness to pivot at a moment’s notice.
The Public Policy and Research teams are focused on a blend of practice-specific issues, such as multiemployer plans, economic scenario generators, and actuarial value calculator proposals, along with cross-practice topics, such as the incorporation of equity perspectives, the evolving implications of AI, and the research possibilities within behavioral economics. As we look to offer an actuarial perspective on the issues likely to be raised by the political environs, our focus remains on pocketbook issues, like Medicare and Social Security solvency and the implications of proposals focused on unfairly discriminatory practices.
Continuing our robust and consistent external communication of the practice councils’ public policy work is part of my focus. Not only must we ensure that the Academy’s membership is aware of the perspectives and analyses developed by our cadre of volunteers, we must also engage our external stakeholders and interested parties in further conversation and issue development through relationship development and direct engagement opportunities at the state, federal, and international levels. Our continued emphasis on appropriately identifying an audience for each issue brief, webinar, and research paper is rooted in the Academy’s mission—to inform and educate on public policy in the United States leading to better decisions and reliance on actuarial insights. Focusing energy on the broad spectrum of our external relationships while establishing a robust strategy of engagement is a priority that requires a blend of policy expertise, anticipatory prep work, and a little bit of creative networking. As we continue to focus on key committees of jurisdiction in Congress, the administrative agencies and key federal boards, individual state regulators and legislators, organizations like the NAIC and NCOIL, and key trade groups, such as AHIP, ACLI, National Association of Mutal Insurance Companies (NAMIC), and the National Organization of Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Associations (NOLGHA), I’ll be challenging the team to think outside of the box. Identifying other think tanks, trade groups, industry associations, and consumer advocates allows us to be better positioned to extol the expertise and innovative perspectives actuaries bring to the proverbial policymaking table.
Looking outward also means considering how we engage with the international community. Our true north is always focused on being the preeminent voice of the U.S. actuarial profession. The world continues to be more and more interdependent, and issues that may not seem to capture our attention today are likely to grow in influence over time. In 2024, our aim is to find a way to create opportunities to enhance, rather than stumble over challenges that distract from, our strategic goals. Leveraging our external partners, focusing on how we share and communicate the actuarial perspective, and consistent engagement with the broader public policy community will translate into a successful 2024 for the Academy and the actuarial profession.
Senior Director, Public Policy
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Enhancing Member & Employer Value
Based on the information gathered over the past few years from several key reports and stakeholders, including the Member Value Survey, the Academy has developed goals, objectives, and critical initiatives to enhance member value and engagement in the coming years. Next year will focus on significant and tangible results toward these efforts.
Over the next year, the Academy will continue to reinforce the value and meaning of being a member of the Academy, for members, prospects, and public stakeholders, and we will leverage its competency framework to ensure all Academy members and prospects understand and retain the baseline knowledge to practice as an actuary in the U.S. With the ever-changing basic actuarial education requirements, the Academy will continue to refine and monitor its membership requirements to ensure those joining the Academy can satisfy the competency framework from their basic actuarial education, credentials, professional U.S.-focused actuarial work experience, research, and potentially through resources the Academy would provide to aid actuaries practicing or planning to practice in the U.S.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of what it means to be a member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA). The Academy’s membership comprises a diverse group of actuaries from all practice areas, employer types, and positions. With that diversity comes an understanding by our many stakeholders of the knowledge and skill that is reflected across the Academy’s almost 20,000 members and the commitment shared to the importance of professionalism and the impact of a strong voice on public policy issues.
Employers supporting and promoting Academy membership and volunteerism show their commitment to their actuaries that they support and appreciate the value of the actuarial profession, actuarial professionalism, the skilled work of their actuaries, and all the work that the Academy does to support all U.S. practicing actuaries and the public. Employer support is also critical to the work done to provide independent and objective actuarial analysis, research, and perspective to decision makers, resulting in more informed decision outcomes that benefit us all as members of the public. All of this is related to and indicative of member and employer value.
As more employers are looking to complement their internal benefits and resources—particularly with continuing education, insights on the profession, and emerging issues and trends—the Academy aims to enhance member and employer value by meeting the needs of the profession and better communicating to promote awareness and transparency of Academy activities so members can understand and utilize all the Academy member benefits, resources, and networking opportunities available to them to maximize their membership to the fullest. And as volunteers, they can also contribute to the many benefits, resources, and impact-making opportunities across Academy boards, councils, and committees.
One of the challenges the Academy and the U.S. profession faces is the low public awareness of the actuarial profession. The profession’s value needs to be better recognized and appreciated by the public and recommended to students as a viable career opportunity. The Academy has developed a student resource page and is preparing to invest further in educating and raising awareness among students of the vital role an actuary plays and the Academy’s role in supporting its members and the profession, and—for many—to introduce them to this wonderful profession and actuarial community.
Through the work of the newly formed Volunteer Engagement Sub-committee, there will be a focus on strengthening the volunteer process—additional volunteer training and onboarding opportunities, strengthening the pipeline of volunteers to ensure diversity of thought, recruiting new volunteers, and encouraging members at all experience levels to engage with the Academy by volunteering for a committee or participating in one of the many micro-volunteering opportunities available at the Academy.
Senior Director, Membership
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Growing the Impact of Continuing Education & Events
There is so much on the horizon for the Academy’s Education and Events department in 2024. Formed in mid-2022, we’ve since been focused on aligning the Academy’s education program with our strategic plan, and looking at innovative ways to provide meaningful, engaging, and effective content through a variety of delivery systems to meet the educational needs of the Academy’s diverse membership practicing in the U.S.
One of our most important and forward-looking initiatives is implementing a learning management system (LMS), which is targeted to be launched in the first quarter of 2024. Currently being designed and developed for ease of access and as a home base for keeping track of members’ continuing education, the LMS will enable us to organize and categorize our existing content and give us a framework for developing learning paths to keep actuaries in all practice areas up to date on important policy and professionalism developments.
The Academy’s well-regarded Annual Meeting is both a leadership transition and a content-rich educational experience featuring headlining keynote speakers, meaningful general session panels, and practice area breakouts. Innovations to this event over the past few years have included adding research posters and more networking opportunities, and, moving forward, we’re looking at recruiting a group of volunteers to work toward changes to both the structure of the meeting and how we build the program. In 2024, we’ve made the decision to move the annual meeting to mid-October to be able to focus on current events, and—as our theme describes—envision tomorrow before the 2024 election. The leadership transition will remain in November, providing an effective means of continuity in support of effective governance of the Academy.
2024 is the 50th anniversary of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, so we will be working with the Pension Practice Council to commemorate and celebrate this important milestone through a series of webinars and events.
One of the advantages of having a department solely focused on education and events is that it fosters collaboration across all Academy departments to look holistically at the entirety of the content the Academy produces. Doing so allows us to think about the potential each product has for a variety of different content delivery options. We will soon be engaging volunteers to identify, categorize, and tag existing products and content and determine what needs to be updated, what should be sunset, and what the “shelf life” of each product should be. The Academy has a vast collection of rich content (and is constantly developing more), and we look forward to curating it to make it more accessible and engaging.
Senior Director, Education & Events
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Optimizing the Organization and Its Impact
The road untraveled becomes more crowded once everyone finds out the road is more efficient and may even offer a shortcut without lessening value delivered. So, it is with the administrative functions like human resources (HR), accounting, and information technology (IT). The road untraveled in the case of the Academy is the automation and digitalization of the administrative functions in pursuit of continued and enhanced member and organizational value. While the past year has been spent pondering the untraveled road, the next year will be utilized to make that road more efficient and effective in serving the needs of members and enhancing the impact and growth of Academy staff.
The accounting team purchased and deployed new budgeting software that enabled real-time insight into the current financial performance as well as to provide a platform for budget preparation in support of organizational priorities. Plans for 2024 include utilizing that software to enhance projections and reporting as well.
For human resources, we’ve already automated the leave request and approval process, the goal setting and review function, as well as the performance evaluation process. We plan to completely digitize all HR records across the organization. Another major focus in 2024 is the continued investment in talent development and skill-based training across the entire team, including a combination of in-person training, self-directed courses, and publications and other resources. Other priorities include updating internal policies and procedures, including succession plans within each functional area of the organization to ensure seamless support of the Academy fulfilling its mission and supporting its various councils and committees.
For the information technology function, we are in the midst of assessing and evaluating our IT environment and performance, which will aid us in elevating the impact of our technology platforms in supporting the Academy’s efforts and ensuring adequate cyber protections. In 2023, we added a new project management software that allows users to track progress and deadlines for the Academy’s 300+ projects while providing insight into the milestones accomplished and ROI achieved, which we will continue to leverage in 2024. Plans for the next year include implementing a new learning management system (LMS), supporting the website redesign, migrating to a more collaborative platform that will enable volunteers and employees the opportunity to cooperate in a more cohesive form virtually and in real time, and upgrading our association management system (AMS) to better support and meet the needs of our almost 20,000 members and provide staff the appropriate data to continue elevating member services provided.
Chief Financial Officer