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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Controversy in Ireland

As we go to press, fellow members of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland are voting on a special resolution to change the constitution of the Society in order to include peer review. This issue has generated controversy (as has been the case in Canada, Australia, and the UK). Early December should see whether the resolution recommended by the Council of the Society has achieved the necessary 75% support.

In a letter to members, president Pat Healy explained that peer review was a corollary of the preference of the Society for self-regulation. The Society’s practice committees have been working on the appropriate form of peer review, and a total of five consultation meetings with members have been held. Mr Healy stresses the care taken to ensure that the burden of additional work will be proportional relative to the value added and he also says that the local regulators have been very supportive of the peer review initiative. ‘I believe that if we reject peer review, we will have to seriously consider whether the self-regulatory approach is tenable for our Society in the current environment’, he concluded.

We understand that various reservations have been expressed by several Society members – especially by employed actuaries potentially subject to peer review. Most vocal among the objectors has been general insurance actuary Patrick Grealy, author of an open letter taking issue with recommendation. His concern is principally with the mandatory independence requirements, and the potential implications of these for actuarial costs and for the status of employed actuaries. Grealy advocates instead that peer review should be encouraged on a voluntary basis, perhaps supported by a mandatory strengthening of CPD requirements.

Grealy’s thinking echoes that which prevailed in Australia following a similar controversy earlier this year, while in the Canadian context the profession did eventually implement mandatory peer review for actuarial opinions on insurance companies.