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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Analyse this

Working alongside actuaries just became a whole lot more scholarly. Jessica Elkin bids a hearty welcome to the new entrants

©Phil Wrigglesworth

This revered publication is called The Actuary, but let it not be said that we are narrow-minded enough for it to be solely for actuaries. Why, all sorts with an actuarial eye might find something to interest them. The puzzles alone are worth a look, even if you’ve no interest in making financial sense of the future and, let’s face it, you don’t need to be Einstein to read the stuff I’m putting down on paper. What am I getting at? Well, people with a rousing actuarial curiosity who are not going to be studying for the IFoA Fellowship, might want to look at a new opportunity to belong to the profession without having to travel the same path as the rest of us students.

The new Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA) qualification has been developed after consultation with members of the profession and seeks to fill a different need from the one addressed by the long-standing Fellowship.Those who are already in roles supporting actuaries, or in other financial services roles who would like a professional qualification, will have a more formal and internationally recognised path to gaining appropriate technical financial skills. We can be reassured that “it bears all the hallmarks you would expect from the IFoA: a high-quality qualification, robust regulatory framework and attractive membership package.” Phew.

Some may bring up the adage about how things that are unbroken do not require mending and wonder what the reasoning is for bringing in this new fancy-pants certification. Is it just a money-spinner? 

Oh, ye of little faith! As it happens, a lot of thought was put into its genesis.

Seeing reason

CAA is intended to be to actuaries what paralegals are to lawyers. While there are other technical financial qualifications out there, none of them is actuarial in nature. Allowing those who work alongside actuaries to acquire part of the broad actuarial skill set and to join the profession will, in turn, promote awareness of actuarial science and its value to a broader demographic. Furthermore, professionalising actuarial support roles brings them within the regulatory framework of the Actuaries’ Code and all the finger-wagging that that entails. We will share the same sticks and carrots, giving the public and our clients that extra layer of confidence in our collective accountability. 

The broad application of the new qualification means it could generate much interest. Employers may find that offering the qualification aids the retention of staff and

underpins the skills of those working with actuaries. Potential candidates will find that it provides membership of a prestigious professional body and the associated benefits of being part of the global IFoA community; the support from the IFoA throughout their careers and the various social – I mean networking – events. Finally, it will hopefully ensure the IFoA’s ongoing relevance in global markets.

Oh, and you can rest easy as they still have to complete work-based skills, adhere to Technical Actuarial Standards and demonstrate Continuing Professional Development. No one escapes!

Members’ club

When Waitrose brought out its free-coffee-and-newspaper scheme, it was met with disapproval with many a posh shopper who complained that these sorts of giveaways bring in the riff-raff. No worries of that sort here.

Candidates must pass Module 0 before being allowed to attempt the later ones, and qualification is estimated to take at least two years of part-time study alongside a financial support role. Modules 1-4 consist of snippets from a lot of the CT exams and module 5 comprises half of CA2 (audit trails – that last hurdle). 

To those concerned that the CAA qualification will devalue the Fellowship, the IFoA has expressed a commitment to keeping them markedly separate. However, it may be possible for certified actuarial analysts to gain the Fellowship qualification in time. The intent is not for people to see CAA as a stepping stone to becoming an actuary, but a conversion course is considered a possibility given the right level of demand. 

As for the other way around, the early CT exams currently give exemptions from some of the CAA exams – but only with a year’s window planned to start in November this year. So get cracking if you’re interested! There is plenty more information on the IFoA website. 

The qualification is launched this year, with modules 1-5 ready for examination from 2015, so it’s only a few years before we welcome new comrades into our collective actuarial bosom.  

I don’t know about you, but I for one welcome our new analytical amigos.