State of the College (ACOPA)
I thought that since I have maybe figured out this job and have not yet become irrelevant, it’s the perfect time to tell you what I see the State of the College is.
Education – JBEA
I haven’t done much at all in this area since becoming President because the work being done by our folks on the various committees (question-writing committees, JBEA Advisory Board and our representative to the JBEA), plus our relations with the JBEA itself, have all been wonderful. Since our co-sponsorship of the Enrolled Actuaries exams with the SOA is essential to our core mission, this is as good as it gets.
FSPA Experience Track
After three years of success with the FSPA Experience Track, I formed a small Presidential Task Force that recommended some tweaks to the process that were approved by the Leadership Council. Remember that the stated purpose of this designation is: “Under the Experience Track, the FSPA will be awarded to MSPA applicants who have demonstrated technical and thought leadership in the pension actuarial field over an extended period of time at a very high level.” The designation also publicizes the excellence of our College within the profession.
FSPA Exam Track
The International Actuarial Association (IAA) has long been debating possible changes to the recommendations — and, yes, requirements — for standards of actuarial education. Our representative, Joe Nichols, has been using his powers of persuasion to maintain something equivalent to the status quo, as has the Academy. Yet despite all hopes of entropy, it seems likely that at some point we will need to rejigger the FSPA Exam Track. Our Executive Director, Judy Miller, believes that this can be done without too much effort. An unintended consequence of any final decision of the IAA might be that the FSPA Experience Track could need more than tweaks — but not at this time.
For many members, our success in Government Affairs garners most of the headlines. If there is any area in which we punch well above our weight, this is it. No other actuarial organization or retirement-oriented organization can do what we do, despite having larger budgets and membership. In June, ACOPA GAC (on which we participate and co-chair) met with the various government agencies and had a good exchange of information. Our President-elect, Bill Karbon, and I met with senior staff on the tax-writing committees of the House and Senate to discuss tax reform and retirement issues. Due to my failure to adequately prepare for having to empty my pockets of all metallic objects, I briefly lagged behind in the Senate building, and ran into Marty Pippins, who had been loaned to the Senate Finance Committee by the IRS. We had a nice chat before it was Diet Coke time.
Our conferences are as good as any, and usually better. The Symposium is unique and actually could not accommodate a larger attendance. The L.A. Advanced Pension Conference is back to being successful, and will probably expand. As a resident of Los Angeles and long-time attendee, I can state without hesitation: Stay away from LAX; stay away from downtown; don’t drink the water; and don’t breathe the air. Truthfully, the air is much better than it was 50 years ago, so I take that part back. ASPPA Annual is much more fun than the Enrolled Actuaries meeting, which could be because many ASPPA members attend. All of the conferences will no doubt be better once I speak less.
ACOPA has always been involved in professionalism, within the College and the profession. Back when we were ASPA, we had members on the Actuarial Standards Board (ASB); there has always been at least one member on the ABCD and of course, members on Academy committees relating to professionalism. We have also commented many times on proposed ASOPs and had many sessions at conferences that involved ethics and professionalism topics. The Professionalism Committee under Lynn Young has brought all of these together in an organized manner to have a larger impact within the profession.
Back when I was on the ASPA board, I was on the ASPA Membership Committee for a couple of years and came to appreciate the effort it takes to grow an organization. This last year we formed a Membership Committee under Richard Kutikoff, and it has made the first steps toward contacting and persuading Enrolled Actuaries who are not yet members to become members. I expect its mission to only grow and be more effective as time goes by.
The listserv is often promoted as one of our major benefits of membership, which it is. Sometimes the threads can become too encumbered to follow completely, but when needed, the search engine can almost always find what you are looking for: sometimes technical information, sometimes technical opinions, sometimes source material.
In September, President-elect Bill Karbon, EVP John Markley and I will attend the North American Actuarial Council (NAAC) meeting in Mexico. At the same location there will be a meeting of the U.S. Presidents and the Joint Discipline Council (JDC). The chair of the JDC through the end of November is yours truly. This is only the second year of the newly configured JDC, and it has become exciting. Either Bill or I will provide a report of sorts in the October newsletter.
The success of the e-news has been so great that the editor, Norm Levinrad, has agreed to serve one more year. There have been quite a few good technical articles. The best thing about them is that even though they aren’t as long or as hard to write as an article in Plan Consultant or the magazines of other actuarial organizations, I get more out of them.
We have the best staff — Big League! And the support of the ARA has been exceptional.
While I haven’t exhausted all of the things the College does for and on behalf of our members, none of what I’ve mentioned would be possible without the dedication of the many members who volunteer. Just as volunteers were the foundation of the old ASPA, they are the foundation of ACOPA. The rewards of volunteering are not just the good it does for the College and all of its members, but the good that it does for the volunteers personally: camaraderie, professional development, technical advancement, advanced education and more.
At this point I will stop and wish you a great summer. Looking forward to seeing you at the Symposium in Chicago or at ASPPA Annual!
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