Candidate Letter on Curriculum Changes

Posted June 28, 2016

Dear Candidates,

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) leadership recognizes that one of its prime obligations is to maintain the reputation of our profession and ensure the continued relevancy of, and respect for, our designations and credentials. With this duty in mind, we periodically review our curriculum and make changes that we believe are required to respond to evolving market forces. The SOA Board recently approved significant changes to the Associate of the SOA (ASA) curriculum. On behalf of the SOA, I would like to share with you details of the pending changes for the ASA and the Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA) educational requirements that will go into effect July 1, 2018.

Becoming an actuary – a member of the SOA – is a significant career milestone. These curriculum changes will help ensure that your ASA designation or CERA credential will be even more valuable. The changes are designed to provide a complete curriculum. Before I discuss these curriculum changes, I want to describe the background of the efforts and the drivers of these changes.

The ASA Curriculum Review Task Force conducted a review of the curriculum over many months in 2015 and 2016. As part of this process, we gathered input from employers, candidates, members, universities and other actuarial organizations. Feedback for the proposed changes was uniformly supportive; the proposal was modestly revised in response to feedback. The final step was the Board’s approval of the curriculum changes.

There are two key drivers for the changes. First, we have seen an increased need for experts working with predictive analytics, creating opportunities for applying our actuarial skills and expertise inside and outside of the insurance industry. Second, we felt it necessary to adjust the curriculum balance between long-term and short-term insurance coverages, due to the increasing importance of short-term coverages, such as health and general insurance (property/casualty).

The curriculum additions include two formally examined subjects, which will increase the total number of ASA components from 10 to 12. While this may have the effect of increasing total travel time to ASA, our stakeholders have told us how important these changes are to educate future actuaries. The curriculum changes reflect employer-valued topics and the quality, rigor and depth of expertise expected of SOA members. The changes address the evolving industry challenges and needs, as well as using new educational technologies available, and incorporate subject matter on new topics, particularly predictive analytics. Candidates will use computer packages in their learning to apply the messages and principles with realistic data sets. The predictive analytics techniques in the curriculum may include generalized linear models, decision trees, clustering techniques, and principal components analysis. The assessment test will be project-based to provide candidates with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and knowledge.

These curriculum changes may have no impact on your designation requirements if you complete your ASA by July 1, 2018 and your Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA) by July 1, 2022.

The Board also approved a policy change that will require those candidates earning a CERA credential from the SOA under the revised requirements who also wish to apply for the ASA to complete the new predictive analytics assessment as part of their preliminary exam pathway.

We have developed the web page www.SOA.org/curriculumchanges to provide details on the curriculum changes. On this page you can access a fact sheet that addresses the timing of the new requirements, transition rules, and information on associated changes to the Validation by Education Experience (VEE) requirement. We will also have a webcast scheduled later this summer. Remember, the SOA is here to support your growth along the pathway and beyond with education, technical tools, and resources to help you build your professional skills.

If you have any specific questions about the pending changes, please contact CustomerService@soa.org. I am always interested to hear your feedback, and please feel free to reach out to me at craig.reynolds@soa.org.


Sincerely,

Craig W. Reynolds, FSA, MAAA
President


Posted June 28, 2016