Enhancing Trust in the Profession… and in Each Other
An important part of the Society of Actuaries’ (SOA) mission is to elevate trust in actuaries. Trust in the profession is earned, preserved and enhanced only when individual SOA members act with integrity and good judgment… not only in their work, but also in their personal affairs and relationships with others.
These expectations are reflected and codified in Precept 1 of the Code of Professional Conduct (the “Code”):
An Actuary shall act honestly, with integrity and competence, and in a manner to fulfill the profession’s responsibility to the public and to uphold the reputation of the actuarial profession.
As a global organization, the SOA also seeks to create an inclusive community for members and candidates from every background, regardless of our differences, which among others include differences in age, race, religion, culture, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity or orientation, or disability. As SOA members, we have a shared responsibility to create a welcoming community for all, and to recognize that some may be or may feel excluded or hindered because of these differences.
Expectations Regarding Personal Conduct
Every SOA member has a part to play in achieving the goals described above. Members of the SOA are therefore held to high standards of conduct described in Precept 1 and its annotations.[i] The requirements of the Precept are not limited to actions taken by members in the course of their work; it may apply as well to their personal actions outside of work.
Actions and behaviors inconsistent with the principles and values embedded in Precept 1 can undermine trust in the profession and our goal to be a diverse, inclusive global organization. This is not a new interpretation of Precept 1. In some past circumstances, members have been subject to disciplinary action for criminal acts or other reprehensible conduct unrelated to their work. Such behaviors call into question an SOA member’s fitness to carry out their professional responsibilities to principals, fellow members, and the public and may damage the member’s reputation and reputation of the profession as a whole.
One challenge facing actuaries (and other professionals) is how to express themselves on social media and in other public forums, where discourse is often characterized by divisive, polarizing and inflammatory statements. With the growing reach of social media platforms, the lines between professional and personal conduct are increasingly blurred; a person’s seemingly private behavior can easily be broadcast widely across multiple channels.
The vast majority of members act with integrity in both their professional and personal lives. Nonetheless, members should avoid conduct that might be judged as unprofessional or inconsistent with the values of Precept 1.
The Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline (the “ABCD”) is the body responsible for investigating the conduct of members that may have fallen below the expectations set out in the Codeii. The ABCD is an independent body that operates at arms-length from the SOA and the other organizations that have adopted the Code.
Accordingly, the SOA does not speak on behalf of the ABCD; the views expressed in this message may not be those of the ABCD and are not intended as a formal interpretation of conduct the ABCD might regard as a violation of Precept 1. However, the ABCD has confirmed that actuaries may be subject to disciplinary actions under Precept 1 for actions unrelated to their work as actuaries.
Precept 1 establishes broad expectations for professional conduct that extend beyond the scope of an SOA member’s work and the performance of actuarial services. Unacceptable conduct, even if unrelated to work, can undermine trust in the profession and weaken the common bonds that bind our community.
We all have a shared responsibility to create an inclusive culture within our diverse global community and to uphold the professionalism standards of the SOA and the reputation of the actuarial profession.
Jennifer Gillespie, FSA, MAAA
President and Chair, Society of Actuaries
[i] PRECEPT 1. An Actuary shall act honestly, with integrity and competence, and in a manner to fulfill the profession’s responsibility to the public and to uphold the reputation of the actuarial profession.
ANNOTATION 1–1. An Actuary shall perform Actuarial Services with skill and care.
ANNOTATION 1–2. An Actuary shall not provide Actuarial Services for any Principal if the Actuary has reason to believe that such services may be used to violate or evade the Law or in a manner that would be detrimental to the reputation of the actuarial profession.
ANNOTATION 1–3. An Actuary shall not use a relationship with a third party or with a present or prospective Principal to attempt to obtain illegal or materially improper treatment from one such party on behalf of the other party.
ANNOTATION 1–4. An Actuary shall not engage in any professional conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation or commit any act that reflects adversely on the actuarial profession.
ii The ABCD jurisdiction extends to actuarial practice by members of the participating organizations in all countries except Canada; and to actuarial practice in the United States by members of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. The Canadian Institute of Actuaries exercises similar jurisdiction over all actuarial practice in Canada and actuarial practice by its members and students outside the United States and U.S. territories and possessions. Source: ABCD Rules of Procedure for the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline.