Charles Cowling, chair of the Qualification Task and Finish Group, explains the Chartered Actuary proposal, and Marjorie Ngwenya, president of the IFoA, answers your frequently asked questions
The actuarial profession is in a cycle of continuous change and growth. As your professional body, we must ensure we have qualifications available that equip you to meet the changing priorities of employers and the wider industry, both now and in the future.
Council recognised these changes in the market, and, in July 2016, agreed to encourage the redevelopment and repositioning of the Associateship as the primary pathway to qualification as an actuary.
This would build on changes that had already been made in the soon-to-be-introduced Curriculum 2019, which will bring the qualification in line with the International Actuarial Association's (IAA) syllabus. You can review these changes here: www.actuaries.org.uk/studying/curriculum-2019
The Council-allocated Qualification Task and Finish Group spoke to a range of global employers of actuaries, regulators and other actuarial associations and found that an overwhelming number of stakeholders supported the proposal we had developed. On 27 November, we launched the consultation on the Chartered Actuary proposal, which will run until 28 February.
The consultation asks for your feedback on the proposal to rebrand the current Associate qualification to Chartered Actuary (CAct). It is suggested that the Chartered Actuary will become the initial qualification for any professional IFoA actuary. These proposals do not represent a significant change but are an evolution of the existing qualification framework and will continue to ensure our qualifications are competitive, relevant and will, of course, maintain the quality associated with the IFoA.
The changes proposed in this consultation will not happen in isolation. Therefore, we are also sharing information about other elements of our education strategy and explaining how this proposal fits within it.
It is not too late to give us your views, so please do use the contact details on these pages to get in touch with us. The feedback that you give will help us to shape the proposal and therefore the final plan, which we will present to you if the consultation feedback indicates that we should progress to a member vote.
The big questions
As we approach the end of the consultation, I would like to take the opportunity to answer some of the big questions that we have received so far. Further answers can be found on our website alongside the consultation document - www.actuaries.org.uk/chartered-actuary
Is the title 'actuary' being devalued as a result of these proposed changes?
No, not at all. Currently, anyone can call themselves an actuary, as it's not a 'protected' title. However, the proposal will ensure that the term 'Chartered Actuary' is protected, and only those who qualify through the IFoA will be able to use this designation. This will protect your reputation as a qualified member of the IFoA and will also continue to give the public confidence in our actuarial professionals.
What's really different about the Chartered Actuary versus the current Associate qualification?
There are only three main differences that you need to be aware of. The proposal is an evolution of our existing qualification framework rather than the development of a brand-new structure or indeed qualification.
1. The name of the Associate qualification is due to change to 'Chartered Actuary'. You may if you wish continue to use the term 'Associate'. Existing and future Fellows will also be able to use the post-nominal CAct in addition to that of their Fellowship.
2. The qualification will be aligned to the International Actuarial Association (IAA) in line with the development of Curriculum 2019. This will develop the global appeal and competitiveness of our qualification in the market.
3. The Chartered Actuary will become the initial qualification that our members work towards when they want to qualify as an actuary.
Why is the Chartered Actuary qualification being created if the Associate level already exists?
While our Associate members are already recognised as qualified actuaries in established actuarial employment sectors, there is a lack of brand awareness around the qualification. It is less recognised in potential new employment sectors for actuaries, such as data analytics, where we wish to establish more strongly the title 'Actuary' for our members, and highlight the relevance of their skills to the ever-changing needs of employers. We are therefore repositioning this qualification.
Are you devaluing the status of Fellow?
There has been a lot of feedback from the consultation around this topic, so I want to address the main concerns directly.
- Allowing those at 'generalist' level to call themselves an actuary - Associates are currently permitted to use the (unprotected) title of actuary, therefore this element of the proposal is consistent with current practice. It is also worth noting that students will still have a substantial amount of studying and work experience to do to get to Chartered Actuary level; the quality of our qualifications will not change.
- Time to qualification - The new Chartered Actuary qualification will not reduce the number of years needed to qualify as an Associate. The total number of years will be the same as is currently the case. Associates are presently recognised as qualified actuaries.
- What if I've already become a Fellow - does this demean my qualification? No, there will continue to be demand for the high levels of specialism demonstrated by our Fellows. Certain roles within the actuarial industry will always require the specialist knowledge of Fellows. Working as a Fellow will showcase your knowledge and experience and will retain the reputation of having achieved a 'gold standard' qualification. For those who would like to, Fellows will be able to use both titles, Chartered Actuary and Fellow, and also both post-nominals, CAct and FIA/FFA, after their name. Members will also be able to use the term Associate when they have qualified as a Chartered Actuary and retain the post-nominals AIA/AFA.
Will the term 'Chartered' become more reputable than Fellow?
The titles 'Chartered' and 'Fellow' mirror those used by other professional bodies. In many of these bodies, people progress to Chartered status and then, once they have gained substantial or specialist knowledge, they move on to Fellowship. The change in title reinforces the seniority of the Fellowship qualification.
Employers have told us rebranding as 'Chartered Actuary' will give our Associate qualification more global appeal, as the term 'Chartered' is widely recognised as a quality mark within markets where there is an opportunity for actuarial specialists to compete with similar qualifications of the same level.
Email: [email protected]
Charles Cowling chair, Qualification Task and Finish Group
Marjorie Ngwenya is president of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA)