Tonya Manning

SOA Board of Directors Decides to Continue Current Pathway to Membership

Tonya Manning
At its Oct. 19-20, 2013, meeting the Society of Actuaries Board of Directors voted to decline the Canadian Institute of Actuaries’ request regarding its University Accreditation Program. The CIA had asked the SOA to accept university course work under the UAP as part of the pathway to membership. The Board determined that continuing with its current pathway the most effective way to control and maintain the unique value of the SOA credentials consistently throughout the world.

The SOA Board has discussed and deliberated this issue for well over a year and has examined the issue in depth. We value and have deep respect for the CIA as our closest global education partner and understand their strong commitment to the University Accreditation Program. However, we ultimately decided that accepting course work under the UAP for exam credits was not in the best interests of the SOA at this time and was not something our members, candidates, or actuarial employers want the SOA to do. A majority of members, candidates and employers told us that the value of the SOA credentials is tied to the unquestioned rigor of SOA exams and to the fact that all candidates take the same, anonymously graded exams to become an SOA member.

The SOA Board will continue to consider alternative education and validation routes, including university participation. In doing so, the SOA will seek input from the CIA and other partners.

The SOA is always interested in collaborating with partners such as the CIA, universities and other actuarial organizations globally that are working to strengthen the actuarial profession. We’re working with the CIA in a number of other important areas to serve our common members and, of course, will continue to do so.

The Board and leadership discussed this issue with members, candidates and employers to determine awareness of university accreditation programs. The Board also authorized a survey of members and candidates regarding university accreditation programs in addition to conducting focus groups. The Board reviewed and discussed a variety of other aspects of this issue including its fit with the SOA’s strategic direction, educational aspects of the program, and potential implementation issues.

Read the SOA official response to the CIA at SOA.org.

Please share your thoughts and feedback in comments below.

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15 responses to "SOA Board of Directors Decides to Continue Current Pathway to Membership"

  • Jack Angert says:

    Thank you for coming to this sensible decision.

  • Dick Schreitmueller says:

    Tonya, congratulations to you and the SOA Board for this decision. In a world where many traditional values are under attack, it’s great to see the you uphold the high standards for SOA Fellowship.

  • Bob Boeckner says:

    As a longtime SOA and CIA member I am disappointed to see this decision. Many Canadian actuaries feel that the SOA is overly US-centric. I would be interested in knowing how the sources who expressed an opinion on this issue split between the US and Canada and how their opinion was split.

  • Mel Norton says:

    I agree with this decision.

    Canadian Universtites (if they so choose) can teach the SOA curriculum, at least for the ‘earlier’ exams (although the cut-off point may be unclear). The converse should occur; if a candidate passes a SOA exam that Canadian Universities deem to be the SOA curriculum, they shoudl achieve an (honours) mark in their University course. This would ensure that all Canadian University standards for such courses are both high and equivalent.

  • Georges Bernard says:

    I’m canadian and I thank you for coming to this sensible decision.

  • Joseph Alacchi says:

    Congratulations to the SOA for demonstrating the lost art of common sense!

  • Harold Cherry says:

    A great decision!

    I understand from the SOA staff that the survey on UAP was sent to 12,000 members and 8,500 candidates in North America. I ask the SOA leadership to tell us how many replies were received and what the breakdown of the answers to the survey questions was. Thank you.

  • Chris Johnson says:

    Congratulations to the SOA for listening to its members.
    Something the CIA obviously didn’t do (i’m canadian and talked with many members about this)

  • George Edwards says:

    My overall impression of what has occured is tradition for the sake of tradition.
    Following tradition blindly is no way for an organization to maintain itself and prepare for a new generation of actuaries.

    Other countries and actuarial organizations value a high level of university work, and reward these achievements with exam standings. Why can’t the SOA?

    What is the purpose of this CAE program that the SOA so rigorously beats its drum about? Is it simply a method of increasing the exposure to the SOA brand – an attempt to promote itself as the “premier” actuarial governing body? What merit or purpose does it serve?

  • Frank Bensics says:

    You have apparently confused two separate programs, the CIA’s UAP and the SOA’s CAE. When the SOA first proposed CAE it was very explicit in stating that it had nothing to do with exemptions, and I would hope that they were not trying to mislead anyone. As to its purpose, you would have to get a response from someone that supports it.

  • zhuangrtr says:

    I am an international student from china and studying actuarial science in a US university. It is great to see SOA still uphold the traditional values we all share. Thanks a lot for SOA to provide an equal opportunity for me and the actuarial students in my home-country!

  • Francis Belhumeur says:

    This is the right decision for many reasons. I’m currently in the last year of my degree in Actuarial sciences at Laval University and I’ve had a lot of exposure to the issue. First off, some of our teachers played a big role in setting up the ICA’s accreditation system, which was, for that matter, accepted just after my freshman year. Conseuqnetly, i’ve seen and experienced both worlds. On the one hand, you have the math geniuses who score above everyone else no matter what the subject. With the accreditation system, those get a free-pass and don’t get to sit any preliminary exams except exam P. Which is highly unfair. This system also brings up the issue of fairness. For instance, I’ve seen some students harrass teachers with questions regarding upcoming exams on a regular basis, which means that for an exam with 5 questions of equal weights (20%), the difference between getting 90% and 70% is pretty slim, especially with some students trying to get an unfair advantage.

    Personnally, I’ve just finished taking the preliminary exams. It took me countless hours to get there. In light of this, not only did it take hundreds of hours of my time, but there’s also the opportunity costs and the sacrifice that are attached to it, i.e. not going out with my friends as often as I would have liked too, skipped trainings, etc. I sat all the exams and passed them with hardwork and dedication. I also happened to be admissible to 2 ICA accreditations during the course of my degree (MFE & MLC). The MFE was credited with A- in ONLY ONE class, a grade that could be earned with a reasonable amount of work, say an extra 10-15 hours over what I probably would have studied for the class. Compared to the 150 hours of studying I had to do to pass the MFE, I felt like this was highly unfair. Crucial concepts are not always exhaustively dealt with in class and, as I mentionned earlier, there is the possibility that some students will get an unfair advantage over others. I also don’t understand in what way one’s grade on 10 questions ( two 5-questions exams) is an adequate measure of one’s comprehension of material covered in the longgg SOA syllabus. Not to mention that most classes include a 10% or 20% real world case/paper to solve/write in team. Not a good way to measure individual understanding. Sorry for the long post.

  • DJsavana says:

    Barry,Thank you for your response. I arappently miss understood the start time for registration. Also, thank you for all of the work on CERA that you voluntarily provide to the CAS. Ray Nichols

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