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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

CPD: A new approach

Neil Buckley, chair of the IFoA Regulation Board, tells us about the bold proposals for a new IFoA Continuing Professional Development Scheme


© iStock
© iStock
We hope the new scheme will give members licence to take advantage of all kinds of learning opportunities

Why is the IFoA reviewing the existing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Scheme?

For some time, there has been discussion among the Regulation Board and the IFoA leadership about the possible benefits of a different approach to CPD. 

This is in part because members have frequently told us over the years that the requirement to record and evidence activities can be challenging.

There is a perception that only certain types of activities (usually more formal ones) or IFoA-provided learning can be counted towards CPD hours. As a result, many members have felt restricted in the types of learning opportunities they can take advantage of.

This may discourage members from engaging in learning opportunities on topics away from traditional actuarial practice areas. Of course, this is not in line with the IFoA’s objectives, and we want members to feel supported in learning about new areas, as well as maintaining their competence. 

How did you go about informing options for a CPD Scheme that addresses these issues?

We looked into the schemes of other professional regulators and actuarial bodies to understand different approaches, and considered the pros and cons. We also piloted an outcomes-focused scheme with some of the organisations accredited under our Quality Assurance Scheme (QAS), which gave us a better understanding of how this approach worked. In short, it requires members to consider what their  development needs and objectives are, reflect on the benefits derived from their learning, and determine whether those needs and objectives have been met.

What examples of innovative approaches to CPD did you find?

We came across a number of different approaches to CPD in our research, the most interesting being ‘hybrids’, where a particular volume of learning was prescribed, but members were asked to think more carefully about the outcomes of their activities and how this would shape their development. In the medical and legal worlds, we noted schemes requiring members to have discussions with peers about these issues. Regulators in these fields believe that reflecting on learning undertaken with a colleague adds real value.

This chimed with the feedback from our pilot of the outcomes-focused scheme. Some QAS organisations had this discussion as part of an appraisal, while others took a less formal approach. Participating members told us that the discussions were extremely beneficial. 

We want all members to have this benefit and decided this was something the IFoA could offer in the shape of ‘reflective practice discussions’.

What do we hope for from the proposed approach?

At the heart of the proposed new CPD scheme is a continued responsibility to maintain competence and remain relevant for the job undertaken – building on the principles of the Actuaries Code. 

However, we hope the new scheme will give members the ability to take advantage of all kinds of learning opportunities – from books, journals and online videos to workshops provided by an employer or even another professional body. We also hope members will explore new areas and widen the scope of their expertise, allowing them to add more value for their employer.

We hope that the reflective practice discussions will allow members to better consider their needs and outcomes, and that, going forward, CPD will be more meaningful for members, rather than being perceived to be a ‘tick box’ compliance exercise. 

The proposals are for a scheme that is much simpler and more transparent. There would be a single CPD requirement for all members, except students and those that meet the criteria for ‘non-practising’ status.

For our members employed at QAS organisations, the outcomes-focused CPD scheme will become a permanent optional part of the QAS Handbook.

Review the proposals and share your thoughts online before 17 April at www.actuaries.org.uk/cpd-scheme-review-2020

If you have questions around the proposals for a new IFoA CPD scheme, register now to participate in our consultation webinar on 2 April, 16:00 GMT at bit.ly/38qrsii