CPD Mythbusters

by Emily Kessler, SOA Senior Staff Fellow, Intellectual Capital

EmilyKessler As long as there have been myths, there have been people out to bust them. It’s interesting how a group of people can convince themselves that something is true, despite all evidence to the contrary. From old wives tales to urban legends, we are bound to believe what’s not true simply because we hear it enough.

Some myths are easy to dispel: old dogs learn new tricks, daily apple consumption does not forestall future trips to the doctor, a four-leaf clover doesn’t bring luck, and while the fear of the number 13 is common enough to earn its own Greek name (triskaidekaphobia), 13 is truly nothing more than the number between 12 and 14. Some myths are harder to dispel: look at all the trouble Galileo and others had when they insisted that the earth revolved around the sun!

From Galileo to Cecil Adams (The Straight Dope) and Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters, busting myths has an important cultural context. They help us realign and come to a new common understanding of what is, and isn’t, true.

In that spirit allow me to dispel some myths that we keep hearing about the SOA Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Requirement and what you need to do to meet it. Many of these were questions we got on a recent webcast we did with the American Academy of Actuaries on SOA CPD Standards and the US Qualification Standard. These new busted myths have been added to the SOA CPD FAQs – where we’ve addressed other myths that have come up since CPD launched. Unfortunately, we don’t have the Mythbusters TV show’s cheesy sound effects to add to the website; you’ll just have to imagine the sounds of shattering glass, exploding buildings and a baritone voice announcer booming “BUSTED!” as you read …

Q: I intend to meet the SOA CPD requirement by using the US Qualification Standard. For the US Qualification Standard, the CPD I earn in the prior year ensures my compliance during the current year. But I’m not sure how to use that credit to meet the SOA CPD Requirement. I’ve heard rumors that I use credit earned in 2008-2009 (that met, allowed me to issue Statements of Actuarial Opinion (SAOs) in 2009-2010). Yet, I thought I had to use the credit I earned during the cycle in 2009 and 2010 (that will allow me to issue SAOS in 2010-2011).

A: The SOA CPD Requirement is based on the year the credit is earned (you’re right, and the rumors are wrong). You are correct that you use the credit earned during the CPD cycle: the continuing education credits you earn in 2009 and 2010 (that are used to issue SAOs in 2010 and 2011) are the credits that count to meet the SOA CPD Requirement for the 2009-2010 cycle.

Q: I understand that the SOA CPD Requirement is a membership requirement (Section A.2) but I’ve attended presentations on CPD where I’ve been told that compliance is a choice and I would keep my SOA designation (and be designated “Non-compliant”) if I decide not to comply. I don’t understand how that is possible (these seem to be contradictory statements).

A: The SOA CPD Requirement is a membership requirement because you are subject to it based on membership in the SOA (holding an ASA, FSA and/or CERA credential). However, you don’t lose your credential, or your membership in the SOA, if you elect not to comply. You may elect not to comply, as long as you agree to fulfill the conditions of non-compliance. First, the membership directory record will disclose your “Non-compliant” status (Section A.2.d) and second, you are required to inform anyone relying on your actuarial expertise that you have not met the SOA CPD Requirement (Section A.2.e). You would violate the provisions of membership, and risk disciplinary action, including revocation of your SOA credential, if you falsely attested compliance or if you did not inform anyone relying on your actuarial expertise that you did not meet the SOA CPD Requirement.

Think you got some myths we can’t bust? Post ‘em here or send them to cpdcomments@soa.org. If you’ve got a good enough myth, you may see your myth featured in future FAQs …

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