SOA's CERA Pathway Changes & New ERM Options for FSA

March 14, 2011


On Monday, March 7 the Society of Actuaries' (SOA) Board of Directors approved exciting enhancements for the pathway to the CERA (Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst) credential and moved to expand Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) learning opportunities in all tracks for candidates pursuing fellowship. The approved changes will meet the needs of candidates and employers seeking to acquire ERM skills and help the SOA more efficiently deliver comprehensive ERM education.

At the heart of these changes will be a new ERM-focused examination. This exam will reflect the considerable strides that have been made in the ERM arena in the past few years and provide the SOA with the opportunity to create specifically designed ERM courseware rather than a syllabus collected from a variety of sources. As part of the new CERA pathway and the Finance/ERM fellowship track, the ERM exam will exhibit an exclusive ERM focus, with a general scope appropriate for all practice areas.

For candidates pursuing an FSA on tracks other than Finance/ERM there will now be an option to learn ERM and receive the CERA credential. This change has been made in response to a demand from employers and candidates for a mechanism by which future actuaries can acquire significant skills in both their practice area and in ERM. Candidates will continue to be able to choose a route to FSA that includes only their chosen track or the new ERM pathway that results in both an FSA and CERA.

The changes to the CERA pathway are also positive developments for FSAs and ASAs seeking a CERA credential. The focused approach of the ERM exam will provide the requisite education in a more efficient framework.


The SOA's Advanced Finance/ERM (AFE) exam (the key ERM exam in the current CERA pathway) is a six-hour exam with a significant portion devoted to non-ERM topics. The new ERM exam will be four hours in length, providing a more focused and efficient pathway to the CERA.

The new ERM exam will provide a more accessible means for candidates in other tracks, as well as current FSAs and ASAs, to acquire a CERA credential with minimal additional exam time-a need that has been expressed by candidates, members and employers.

Courseware will be developed specifically for the new ERM exam to provide a cohesive and comprehensive learning resource for candidates. The SOA believes that this courseware will prepare candidates well for success on the examination.

An opportunity can now be realized to update and rearrange material on the current exams and take advantage of a more clearly implied order for candidates to progress through the exams. This will be balanced against the goal of a simplified transition.

The pathway changes set out by the Board will also ensure that the SOA maintains its position at the forefront of ERM education. The new pathway for the SOA's CERA will align well with the CERA Global Association standard and provides an effective delivery of the necessary learning objectives.

CERA Pathway Comparison: Original and Enhanced

The SOA's original CERA requirements and the newly approved requirements are shown below. The enhanced pathway more than meets the requirements set out in the CERA Global Association syllabus.

Orignal CERA Pathway


New CERA Pathway (Effective July 1, 2012)

New CERA Pathway

New ERM Option for All Tracks

The requirements for the FSA designation will change to provide an optional ERM pathway for every FSA candidate. The current requirements and the newly approved requirements are shown below.


  Current FSA Requirements
All VEE, all preliminary exams, FAP and APC
Two Fellowship-level exams - The two exams are 6 hours each (except for US Retirement Benefits, which incorporates the EA exams)
Three FSA modules as specified within the selected track
Decision Making and Communication module (DMAC)
Fellowship Admissions Course (FAC)
  Enhanced FSA Requirements (effective July 1, 2013)
All VEE, all preliminary exams, FAP and APC

Three Fellowship-level exams:

  • (Choice of) ERM Exam (4-hr) or a track-specific Fellowship Non-Core (FNC) Exam (2-hr) 1
  • FC (Fellowship Core) track-specific Exam (5-hr) 2
  • FA (Fellowship Advanced) track-specific Exam (5-hr)
Three FSA modules as specified within the selected track 3
Decision Making and Communication module (DMAC)
Fellowship Admissions Course (FAC)



When making changes such as these, time is needed to prepare a revised syllabus and construct new exams. Candidates should be provided ample time to make decisions about how best to proceed toward their goals. The creation of the ERM exam is less disruptive and affects only one track. Therefore, the new CERA requirements will become effective July 1, 2012 with the first administration of the ERM exam in fall 2012. It will take longer to restructure the fellowship exams and so the new FSA requirements will become effective July 1, 2013 with the new exams given for the first time in fall 2013.

The SOA's Strategic Plan requires that continuous improvements be made to the education system, which ensure it provides attractive, efficient and high-quality pathways for its stakeholders. The SOA believes that a CERA credential earned through the SOA's new pathway will provide all SOA candidates with an efficient means of acquiring essential ERM skills for tomorrow's business environment. This new approach to the CERA pathway and to ERM knowledge development has been designed to provide a more comprehensive and forward-looking education that the SOA's CERA credential holders can carry proudly into the global marketplace.

Timing and Transition Details

For more information on these changes, please see the details on timing and transition.
Please direct inquiries regarding the CERA and FSA changes to



1 Candidates on the Finance/ERM track will not have the option to take a fellowship non-core (two-hour) exam; they must take the ERM Exam.

2 The requirements for US Retirement Benefits are different. The two EA exams will be taken instead of FC.

3 Candidates who do not take the Operational Risk module as part of their track requirements must take it as a fourth module to earn a CERA.