IFoA Council member Edwin Sheaf offers a brief overview of Chartered professionals.
In recent months there has been much discussion, interest and feedback among the actuarial community with regard to the IFoA's proposal to rebrand its Associateship with Chartered status. Some of our members have deep knowledge of Chartered professionals, some know of them in the context of related areas of financial services and statistics, and others have little experience with Chartered professionals or knowledge of how the distinctions work in practice. In this article, I offer a brief overview of Chartered professionals, as background to Council's continued thinking on the relevance of Chartered status to the future of the IFoA's qualification framework.
Well known as the mark of a trusted professional, Chartered status is awarded to individuals by Chartered professional bodies and learned societies. This status is globally recognised, and covers a wide range of professions, including accountancy, engineering, architecture, surveying, physics, patent attorneys, statisticians and scientists. Chartered status is not only recognised in the UK, but also in many countries across the globe, including Ireland, India, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, the ASEAN nations, Pakistan, South Africa, Zambia and Canada. Derivative systems are also used in nations such as Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Slovakia, France, Hungary and Romania. In the US, chartered qualifications are also recognised for example in Financial Services, and Finance and Management, such as the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU).
In the UK, Chartered titles are awarded by institutions incorporated under Royal Charter, such as the IFoA. The standards for these titles are set between professional bodies and their relevant government departments, and are controlled by the Privy Council, whose policy is that "Chartered status should be broadly similar across the professions". Only practising professionals are allowed to hold the designation. As with the term 'actuary', generic professional terms are often not legally protected; adoption of Chartered status secures appropriate legal protection, giving the public confidence in these professionals.
Chartered professions usually have similar qualification frameworks. The Chartered level represents initial status as a qualified professional, achieved through a combination of academic study and development of professional competencies within the workplace. Members who wish to develop their skills and experience further can build on their Chartered status by qualifying as a Fellow - commonly the most senior distinction of a professional body. These Fellows will typically carry both Chartered and Fellowship status in their post-nominal qualifications.
As with all professional body qualifications, there is always the 'exception that proves the rule', such as the Royal Statistical Society. They award Fellowship to "anyone with an interest in statistics ..... with no formal qualifications needed" - equivalent to the IFoA's Affiliate grade (our lowest membership category). When you are looking at Fellowship grades in other professions, remember that not all Fellowships are the same!
Chartered status is widely recognised as a mark of professional competency and is awarded to individuals by Chartered professional bodies and learned societies.
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