From the President

By Bill Karbon • April 10, 2018 • 0 Comments

One of the objectives stated in the ACOPA strategic plan is that “ACOPA will be acknowledged as the preeminent educational organization for pension actuaries not employed at large actuarial firms and other pension professionals working on defined benefit plans.” Since education is so vital to ACOPA, I wanted to review the educational opportunities provided by ACOPA. We use multiple methods in attempting to meet this objective, including the listserv, conferences, exams, webcasts, periodicals and the ACOPA Monthly.

The most active and open means of education is the ACOPA listserv. We are the only U.S.-based actuarial organization which has a listserv that allows for collegial sharing of ideas among members. And since it is only available to ACOPA members, it is a benefit that brings a unique value to ACOPA.

ACOPA is responsible for two conferences, the LA Advanced Pension and 401(k) Conference and the ACOPA Symposium. Angie Barkley did a great job chairing the 2018 LA Advanced Pension and 401(k) Conference that was offered in January. In addition to the two actuarial tracks, the conference historically included one defined contribution (DC) track. In 2018, the conference was expanded to include a second DC track. As a result of this expansion, conference attendance increased by almost 15% from 2017 to 2018. We hope that as the additional DC track and the conference overall is marketed more vigorously, the conference attendance will continue to grow.

The ACOPA Symposium, which is chaired by Drew Forgrave, will be offered in August. The Symposium is a single-track actuarial conference that focuses on issues typically encountered by pension actuaries who are not employed by large firms. In order to encourage active participation by attendees, total attendance is limited. Last year’s conference was very successful; therefore, I would encourage early registration for this year’s conference before the conference limit is achieved.

While we are not directly responsible for the ASPPA Annual Conference, ACOPA maintains representation on the conference committee. We provide critical input to the conference agenda. Furthermore, the two defined benefit tracks offered at the conference allow ACOPA to provide valuable content. ACOPA members are typically the most popular presenters at the conference.

ASPPA’s Plan Consultant magazine committee is always seeking content from ACOPA members. It is critical that we support the education efforts of our sister organizations. Therefore, I would encourage you to reach out to Kim Corona if you any suggestions for Plan Consultant topics or if you are willing to write an article for the magazine.

The ACOPA Retirement Plan Academy (RPA) committee, led by Ken Vollmer, is responsible for writing the A-4 fellowship exam as well as developing the study material for that exam. Furthermore, the committee is responsible for providing 12 hours of webcast content. It is anticipated that more webcasts will be shortened to 50 minutes. Therefore, as many as 12 webcast topics will need to be developed, and presenters for each of those topics will need to be secured. In order to successfully provide webcast content, the ACOPA RPA committee is developing a webcast subcommittee. A call for volunteers can be found here; if you are interested in joining the webcast subcommittee, please email Elizabeth Duda, the ARA's ACOPA Manager, at

Another educational tool providing information relevant to ACOPA members is the ACOPA Monthly. The topical information provided by the popular e-newsletter requires the efforts of a strong Executive Editor. I would like to thank Norman Levinrad for the incredible job he did as the first Executive Editor of the ACOPA Monthly. Under Norm’s direction, it has been a valuable source of information for our members. Norman has turned over the role of Executive Editor to Alan Stone. I would like to thank Alan for agreeing to succeed Norm. I am confident that Alan will continue Norm’s great work.