Katie Wood introduces the IFoA’s updated Quality Assurance Scheme for employers of actuaries, and explains the benefits of joining
This April the IFoA launched a refreshed and streamlined Quality Assurance Scheme (QAS), recognising actuarial functions that stay ahead of the latest standards.
Organisations across pensions, investment and insurance sectors are already accredited members of the QAS, demonstrating to stakeholders and clients both their support of their actuarial teams and their professionalism.
Since the scheme’s launch in 2016, our list of accredited organisations has continued to grow, and now stands at 44. During the past year, we have worked closely with our Senior Quality Assurance Representatives (SQARs) – the actuaries responsible for their employer’s QAS accreditation – to design improvements to the QAS that enhance proportionality and constructiveness and optimise value to members.
The result, launched in April 2022, includes streamlined digital-first processes, access to exclusive QAS insights and incorporation of the latest diversity standards.
“Accreditation is used by organisations to denote commitment to professionalism and compliance with best practice”
Recognition for meeting the highest standards
Accreditation is used by organisations to denote commitment to professionalism and compliance with best practice, and has the concept of continuous improvement at its heart. QAS enhances the standing of actuarial teams within organisations and provides valuable support to actuaries in meeting their professional responsibilities.
The QAS mark is also a useful marketing tool for organisations in terms of demonstrating the strength of their actuarial practice (for example, when tendering for work), and displaying the QAS mark on marketing or recruitment resources promotes trust and confidence in organisations as employers of actuaries.
Supporting best practice
Through independent review of policies and procedures, and checks to ensure they are embedded in organisations, the scheme helps to identify strengths or gaps, promote communication and staff empowerment, and helps to foster quality, diversity, engagement and inclusion. Feedback from accredited organisations tells us that the reassurance the independent review brings in relation to current practices, and the bespoke best practice guidance, are key benefits of accreditation.
Representatives from each accredited organisation have access to a series of bespoke events via the SQAR Forum and the network of peers that the forum offers. Members of the scheme also receive an annual Best Practice report containing benchmarking information, analysis and useful examples. It can be a valuable tool to help a company continue to improve and is an increasingly popular way to develop important business functions, such as planning long-term goals and targeting areas for growth.
A Specialist Review has been introduced, which will provide enhanced review of and recommendations relating to a particular outcome or sub-outcome on an annual basis. The focus of the first review is diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), which gives accredited organisations bespoke guidance and complements the IFoA’s DEI strategy.
DEI has been added as a sub-outcome, providing assurance that accredited organisations are proactive about promoting DEI, including: appreciating and understanding how DEI will impact members’ experience at work; fostering a respectful working environment; valuing all colleagues; and members feeling able to raise DEI matters without fear of retaliation.
Streamlined and online
All QAS assessments are carried out remotely, which is convenient and supports the IFoA’s target of a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030. It also aligns with the IFoA’s new positioning as a ‘digital first’ organisation.
Several other changes have been introduced to the scheme to make application and assessment simpler and smoother, and a dedicated IFoA team is on hand to support accredited organisations in all aspects of the scheme and its implementation.
Find out more… If you would like to talk to us about what QAS accreditation could do for your actuarial team, please get in touch with us at [email protected]
What are the outcomes?
The QAS Outcomes have been streamlined. Organisations seeking accreditation must demonstrate that they meet standards in:
- Professionalism (conflicts of interest and quality assurance, including work review)
- Development and training (continuing professional development requirements, professional competence, professional development, support for new members and those seeking to become members, support for and training of individuals involved in the organisation’s actuarial work who are not members)
- Organisational culture (speaking up, diversity, equity and inclusion, and relationship with users).
Image credit | Shutterstock