The IFoAs Quality Assurance Scheme (QAS) accreditation has been up and running for over a year, and many IFoA members will be familiar with the scheme or have been directly involved with it.
The IFoA's Quality Assurance Scheme (QAS) accreditation has been up and running for over a year, and many IFoA members will be familiar with the scheme or have been directly involved with it.
This first year of operation provides an opportunity to reflect, to consider what has been achieved and what is expected over the next 12 months.
What has been achieved in the first year?
The QAS has gone from strength to strength, with 29 organisations of different sizes and offering various services now accredited in the UK, demonstrating a strong commitment to actuarial professionalism. Organisations are continuing to apply to the QAS, and more is being done to engage with all employers of actuaries, including insurers.
What kind of feedback do QAS organisations get from an assessment?
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) conducts the on-site assessments on behalf of the IFoA. Findings from the assessment are shared only between the applicant, the ICAEW and the IFoA, and the applicant's involvement in the QAS only becomes public once accreditation is awarded.
Matters requiring action
Where an organisation is not fully meeting the requirements of the QAS, this results in a 'matter requiring action' finding. These are the steps required to achieve the QAS mark.
In the past year, there have been eight matters requiring action, which usually involved an organisation needing more time to address weaknesses in their policies, ensure appropriate documentation, or to train their staff. These matters were successfully addressed and all of the organisations then achieved QAS accreditation. Feedback shows that they found the process beneficial as it focused on key actions to help them meet the required outcomes.
Best practice recommendations
Over the past year, QAS assessments identified 227 best practice recommendations for organisations. This is, on average, eight recommendations for each organisation. They cover the breadth of the QAS standard, including training and development; managing conflicts of interest; and quality assurance. These recommendations are not mandatory and help QAS organisations along their path of continuous improvement.
Every organisation that goes through the QAS has its own unique experience in achieving accreditation. There is no pass/fail with QAS, only feedback to address matters if required. The process is flexible to ensure that all organisations can meaningfully achieve accreditation.
Senior quality assurance representatives
QAS accredited organisations are represented by senior quality assurance representatives (SQARs) - an approved role held by senior people in the organisation. The role of the SQAR is important to ensure that the QAS is actively promoted within their organisation.
SQARs meet twice a year at SQAR forums. So far, there have been three forums, with the next one to be held on 15 November in London.
The purpose of the forums is to enable SQARs to discuss matters of mutual interest regarding the QAS. It is an opportunity to celebrate success, learn from each other and to share best practice.
Looking ahead for the QAS: regulatory developments
We are working to further develop the scheme, including benefits for individuals working in accredited organisations. For example, a proposal is being developed for a voluntary trial of an outcomes-focused CPD regime.
Pilots of QAS in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong
In 2017, the IFoA will be trialling the QAS in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. This recognises the global relevance of the QAS and is the first step towards making the scheme available to IFoA members working for organisations outside the UK.
The proposal for international pilot schemes has been met with positive responses from key stakeholders, including employers, professional associations, regulators and insurers. Initial participants include Actuarial Partners (Malaysia), AIA Group (Hong Kong), the insurance consulting practice of Willis Towers Watson (South-East Asia/ Hong Kong) and an international insurance broking firm (Singapore).
The IFoA is also keen to hear from organisations that might be interested in participating in the full scheme in Asia, anticipated to be in 2018.
Interested in QAS accreditation?
If your organisation would like more information about applying, please get in touch with Emma Gilpin or Sarah MacKenzie at [email protected] or +44 (0)131 255 0286