Don’t Be That Gal...

By Lynn M. Young • April 17, 2017 • 0 Comments

Several ethics presentations over the last year have focused on scandals in professional sports and how the lessons learned from them apply to our work. As I think about changes in our industry, there is one scandal that came to the forefront: Maria Sharapova. 

The tennis star had been taking the drug Meldonium for 10 years because of a magnesium deficiency, dizziness and a family history of diabetes. Effective Jan. 1, 2016, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) included Meldonium on the list of banned substances. In early 2017 Sharapova tested positive for the substance and was suspended from competitive tennis for two years. Her suspension not only cost her money, as she was not able to compete, it also damaged her reputation, which cost her some endorsement deals. 

She appealed her suspension, placing fault on ITF for not properly notifying her of the change in policy. It was disclosed in emails and notifications, but she felt the change should have been communicated more prominently. Her suspension was reduced to 15 months, with the review board finding that she still bore “some degree of fault.” While she is scheduled to make her comeback in tennis this month, it will take some time to repair her reputation. 

What can we learn from this? 

As ACOPA actuaries we are subject to the Code of Professional Conduct. Precept 2 of the Code of Conduct states: “An Actuary shall perform Actuarial Services only when the Actuary is qualified to do so on the basis of basic and continuing education and experience, and only when the Actuary satisfies applicable qualification standards.” ACOPA provides a variety of resources to help us keep up to date with law changes, continuing education opportunities and the ability to confer with peers on the Listserv on issues where there may not be just one right answer.

Precept 3 of the Code of Conduct states: “An Actuary shall ensure that Actuarial Services performed by or under the direction of the Actuary satisfy applicable standards of practice.”

Annotation 3-1 of the Code of Conduct states: “It is the professional responsibility of an Actuary to observe applicable standards of practice that have been promulgated by a Recognized Actuarial Organization for the jurisdictions in which the Actuary renders Actuarial Services, and to keep current regarding changes in these standards.”

In December 2010, the Actuarial Standards Board adopted the final version of the revision to ASOP 41, Actuarial Communications. This ASOP significantly changed the disclosure requirements for Actuarial Reports and Communication. The changes in the ASOP were a result of an awareness among the actuarial community of the need to provide clear, concise, detailed disclosures in our reports. What has happened since then? The Actuarial Standards Board (ASB) has issued several other new or revised Standards that may affect the disclosures you developed to comply with ASOP 41. 

If you haven’t reviewed your disclosures recently, now may be a good time to do so. The current ASOPs can be found on the Actuarial Standards Board website. There is a section on the website that lists the ASOPs by practice. You should also consider reviewing the general ASOPs, as they may also be applicable to your practice. 

Let’s learn from Maria Sharapova — don’t be that gal not keeping up with changes to the Standards of Practice. It is the professional responsibility of the actuary, not anyone else’s.