Perspectives From the ABCDprofessionalismUp To Code

That’s So Meta

That’s So Meta

By Shawna Ackerman

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

Jan/Feb 2006 Basics of the ABCD – Who, What, Why, When, Where, How and WhyJulia J. PhilipsInaugural article describing ABCD structure and process
Mar/Apr 2006 Living with Precept 10Edward E. BurrowsConsiderations when transitioning work using a defined benefit pension plan as an example
May/June 2006ABCD Advice for New Actuaries: Top 10 Ways to Immunize Your ProfessionalismJulia J. PhilipsIdeas for providing preventative care to your professionalism
July/Aug 2006International Actuarial Standards of Practice – Suggestions or Requirements?Lauren BloomThe interaction of Precepts 1 and 3 and US and International Standards of Practice
Sept/Oct 2006The Look-in-the-Mirror TestCarol R. SearsPrecept 2 and the importance of carefully considering whether you are qualified using two case study examples
Nov/Dec 2006Qualified…or NotWilliam J. FalkPrecept 2 and some specific questions to ask in determining whether you are qualified or not
Jan/Feb 2007 An Ounce of Prevention – The First StepJack TurnquistConsiderations 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 ToothmanA cautionary tale of undue reliance on subordinates, overconfidence and a lack of quality control
May/June 2007Mercy or JusticeLawrence A. JohansenA review of the investigative process and the first 15 years of the ABCD 
July/Aug 2007Precept 13 – A Snitch in TimeEdward E. BurrowsThe importance of Precept 13 in preserving the status of the actuarial profession as a self-regulating body
Sept/Oct 2007We Need to Do BetterRichard RobertsonA discussion of common causes leading to an inadequate work product
Nov/Dec 2007Affordable Virtue – Ethics for Pension ProfessionalsKurt F. PiperInstilling and increasing ethical behavior – applicable to all – despite the title
Jan/Feb 2008 The Rules are Your FriendLinda BellAttention golfers! This article discusses the “rules” of the actuarial profession with analogies to golfing
Mar/Apr 2008 Paul’s Puzzle: A Fable for ActuariesJulia PhilipsA fable of inadequate reserves, internal pressures and professionalism with numerous possible outcomes
May/June 2008An Actuary Defends HerselfJulia PhilipsAn illustrative story on the power of documented compliance with professional standards
July/Aug 2008Requesting Guidance from the ABCDTom GriffinA description of the RFG process 
Sept/Oct 2008Broaching the Subject of Professional BehaviorJulia PhilipsA story of handling a sensitive topic with a coworker
Nov/Dec 2008Actuaries, Hill Street Blues and Data SecurityRobert J. Reitz and Beth R. SandersTips for proactively protecting data
Jan/Feb 2009 When is a Violation Resolved?William J. FalkAn example RFG exploring if an apparent material violation is resolved
Mar/Apr 2009 I’m an International Actuary?Curtis HuntingtonA reminder that the Code’s scope is not limited to US practice
May/June 2009Student of ChangeA Conversation with Carol SearsGetting the message of professionalism out early and often
July/Aug 2009Interviewing with IntegrityMargaret Resce Milkint and Mary KilkennyDemonstrating integrity in and out of the interview rooms – for candidates and employers
Sept/Oct 2009Don’t Regret Having Filed a ComplaintJulia T. PhilipsWays to comply with Precept 13
Nov/Dec 2009The Carol of the BellsRobert J. ReitzThree warning bells – situations that can lead to problems
Jan/Feb 2010 Moving from Discipline to GuidancePaul FleischackerInsights from an actuary who moved from investigator to ABCD member
Mar/Apr 2010 In Answer to Your Many QuestionsMike ToothmanAnswers to questions regarding the Code collected from recent presentations
May/June 2010Your Comments Please: Changing the Disciplinary ProcessRoger Hayne and Robert J. ReitzA request for comments on changes to the disciplinary process – see summary of answers Jan/Feb 2011
July/Aug 2010Regulator as ResourceJohn PurpleThe benefits of developing a professional working relationship with regulators
Sept/Oct 2010Are You a Rule Follower?Julia T. PhilipsFive questions to ask in assessing rules
Nov/Dec 2010MaterialityRichard RobertsonAn exploration of what may be a material violation of the Code
Jan/Feb 2011 Comments on Changing the Disciplinary ProcessRobert J. ReitzA summary of comments on proposed changes to the disciplinary process
Mar/Apr 2011 Non-Actuarial Services Under the CodeKurt F. PiperApplying Precept 1 to non-actuarial services
May/June 2011Question TimeJames GuttermanImpressions from a first-year ABCD member
July/Aug 2011International ComplianceCurtis HuntingtonEstablishing international standards – see more current discussion in the Nov/Dec 2021 issue
Sept/Oct 2011Are You an Expert?Paul R. FleischackerNavigating your Precept 13 obligations in expert witness cases
Nov/Dec 2011A Look at TransparencyRobert J. ReitzBalancing confidentiality and transparency 
Jan/Feb 2012 Types of DisciplineNancy BehrensAn overview of the types of dismissals and discipline levels
May/June 2012Peer ReviewJanet FaganA critical look at the peer review process and what it can and cannot provide
July/Aug 2012Keeping the CodeKathy RileyPrecept 13 and assessing a potential violation
Sept/Oct 2012Let’s Be Perfectly ClearJames GuttermanA discussion of ASOP No. 41, Actuarial Communications with a focus on responsibility, reliance, disclosure and defending deviation
Nov/Dec 2012Modeling to CodeJohn PurpleIdentifies ASOPs to consider for Predictive Modeling (note: predates ASOP No. 56, Modeling)
Jan/Feb 2013 New Year’s ResolutionsNancy BehrensTips for making a professional development plan and sticking with it
Mar/Apr 2013 Moral TurpitudeCurtis HuntingtonA look at Precept 1-4
May/June 2013There’s an App for ThatJanet FaganThe Code of Conduct, ASOPs and the USQS are only a click away
July/Aug 2013How to Evade the CodeRobert J. ReitzSeveral examples of missteps to avoid
Sept/Oct 2013Phone a FriendKathleen A. RileyHow the RFG process can work as your professional lifeline
Nov/Dec 2013New Kid on the BlockRick BlockInsights into the ABCD process by a new Board member
Jan/Feb 2014When Harry Met SallyJanet CarstensAn overview of the target timeline for an ABCD complaint. Spoiler alert – this is not a comedy
Mar/Apr 2014A Show of HandsNancy BehrensEncouragement to put the Code on your annual reading list
May/June 2014Owning Precept 13John PurplePrecept 13 is the cornerstone of our profession. Be aware of the requirements.
July/Aug 2014CE Checklist for Enrolled ActuariesRick BlockConsiderations in meeting continuing education requirements
Sept/Oct 2014You Sign It, You Own ItJanet FaganReliance on the work of others is both common and acceptable with appropriate disclosures
Nov/Dec 2014Must or Should? Read ASOP No. 1Kathy RileyRead ASOP No. 1
Jan/Feb 2015 Six Years Before the MastRobert J. ReitzReflections on the cases seen during six years of service on the ABCD
Mar/Apr 2015 A Case StudyDave OgdenAn outline of a hypothetical complaint and how it is processed by the ABCD 
May/June 2015Why an Actuary Must/Should Read ASOP No. 1Allan W. RyanAn overview of ASOP No. 1 effective June 1, 2013
July/Aug 2015What is a Profession?Nancy BehrensDefining a profession with a focus on the Code and how we self-regulate the profession
Sept/Oct 2015Don’t Be ‘That Actuary’John StokesburyExamples of potential Code violations 
Nov/Dec 2015The ABCD Process from the InsideAnonymousPerspectives from an actuary who was the subject of a disciplinary hearing and what they learned and changed
Jan/Feb 2016 Doing the Right ThingJohn M. PurpleA 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 SoJan CartsensThe need to document what you did and why in selecting data, methods and assumptions
May/June 2016No Fee, No Foul?Rick BlockThree examples of no fee advice – all could be considered Statements of Actuarial Opinion
July/Aug 2016Whose Assumptions are They?David F. OgdenThe importance of scrutinizing the work of others and requirements for disclosing reliance on others
Sept/Oct 2016Test Your Professionalism IQAllan RyanThe title says it all – an online 10-question test. A follow-up exam is given in the Nov/Dec 2020 issue.
Nov/Dec 2016The Dog Ate my Homework, and Other JustificationsJanet FaganExploring some commonly heard excuses and why they do not hold up
Jan/Feb 2017 Peer Review – Small Investment, Big ReturnDebbie RosenbergUses and benefits of a peer review
Mar/Apr 2017 A ‘Checklist Manifesto’ for ProfessionalismDavid DriscollAn encouragement for creating checklists to facilitate compliance with aspects of professionalism with two examples 
May/June 2017Controlling CommunicationsJohn T. StokesburyExamples of situations where a reader might be misled by an actuarial communication and how to mitigate that risk
July/Aug 2017Lessons LearnedJohn P. TierneyFour common-sense guidelines to good actuarial practice gleaned from a career spanning more than 40 years
Sept/Oct 2017Control of Work Product – Be Upfront with ClientsGodfrey PerrottSteps that can be considered to protect and control the work product, before and after accepting an assignment
Nov/Dec 2017Precept 1 and ‘Bad Conduct’Jan CartsensExamples 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 13Rick BlockExamples to help us decide what to do in certain circumstances including asking the ABCD for an RFG
Mar/Apr 2018 Precept 10 – Actuarial DisagreementsDavid OgdenA story of disagreeing respectfully and disclosing reliance using a state rate filing example
May/June 2018Know Your ASOPsAllan W. RyanAn overview of then-recently revised ASOPs 21, 23, 24 and 52
July/Aug 2018Communicating Uncertainty: The Importance of Acknowledging LimitationsDavid DriscollStraightforward statements about the limitations of our work are increasingly important to actuarial practice
Sept/Oct 2018A(E)SOP’s FablesDeborah RosenbergThe ASOPs function to pass along certain core values to the actuary.
Nov/Dec 2018If You Want to Grow Big and Strong, Eat Your SpinachJohn StokesburyA 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 NotesJohn TierneyAn 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 HelpGodfrey PerrottExploring conflicts of interest – the requirements and considerations of Precepts 6 and 7
May/June 2019Communicating Clearly with ASOP No. 41David OgdenA look at ASOP No. 41 and some of the pitfalls to avoid in our rapid-fire electronic world of communication.
July/Aug 2019Exercising Judgement in a Self-Regulated ProfessionAllan W. RyanMaintaining our clients’ and the public’s trust with high standards of service and self-regulation
Sept/Oct 2019The ABCD Goes to the MoviesDavid DriscollAn exploration of the ABCD process featuring a 1948 musical comedy, Are You with It? (which is about an actuary!)
Nov/Dec 2019Getting Political – Can an Actuary Weigh in on Thorny Issues?Alice RosenblattConsiderations 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 TruthKenneth A. KentA discussion of the infrequently highlighted Precept 11, Advertising 
Mar/Apr 2020 Actuarial AssumptionsDeborah RosenbergIdentifying, disclosing, and assessing the reasonableness of assumptions with a focus on ASOPs 41 and 43
May/June 2020Looking for Truth in Shades of GrayJohn T. StokesburyThree example cases of complaints before the ABCD 
July/Aug 2020Communicating the UnknownDavid OgdenThe importance of communicating and disclosing assumptions, reliance and limitations using a novel rate setting example
Sept/Oct 2020The Gifts and Responsibilities of AgeGodfrey PerrottWisdom is valuable; compliance with continuing education is necessary to maintain technical competence and avoiding a visit to the ABCD
Nov/Dec 2020Follow-Up ExamAllan W. RyanAn 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 FriendsAlbert J. BeerHow the RFG process adds value by providing confidential professional advice and counsel
Mar/Apr 2021 The Art of the PossibleDavid L. DriscollThe value of the Code of Conduct and the ASOPs in delineating an actuary’s professional responsibilities
May/June 2021Follow the ASOPs, Inside and OutAlice RosenblattShould 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 2021The Code of Professional Conduct and EthicsKen KentAn exploration of the Code of Conduct, ethics and the decisions we make with examples of determining qualification and disclosing errors
Sept/Oct 2021Who Knows 14?Debra RosenbergA tour of the Code of Conduct 
Nov/Dec 2021Where Do You Practice?William HinesApplicability of the Code of Conduct and ASOPs to international work
Jan/Feb 2022 A Million Little ThingsJohn SchubertThe 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 ActuaryRichard KutikoffIdentifies numerous risks that actuaries face in performing services and ways to mitigate those risks.
May/June 2022Mythology and Actuarial ProfessionalismAlbert J. BeerThree common myths debunked
July/Aug 2022Conflicts of Interest and Codes of ConductGodfrey PerrottA look a Precept 7
Sept/Oct 2022Our ResilienceDavid DriscollA tribute to a recently deceased dear friend, and lessons from his life story pertaining to personal and professional resilience
Nov/Dec 2022A Fine MessApril ChoiRipped from the headlines: CPA continuing ed exam cheating, and how the situation might have been handled if it had involved actuaries instead
Jan/Feb 2023Tattoos and PonytailsTammy DixonA look at precepts 1 and 2 as they pertain to how an actuary presents to the public
Mar/Apr 2023That’s So MetaShawna AckermanA 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.”

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