For ACAS, a bill of rights

It’s not a Bill of Rights (note the caps) because it hasn’t been passed by the membership.

In the Casualty Actuarial Society, career associates hold a weird second-class status. A career associate is one who reaches ACAS, then stops taking exams. They can sign a company’s Statement of Actuarial Opinion, but they can’t vote in CAS elections and can’t serve on the society’s ruling board.

That could change soon, after votes on CAS bylaws and constitution that would:

  • Give Associates the right to vote either upon attainment of Fellowship or five years after they are recognized as Associates, whichever occurs first.
  • Allow all voting members to be eligible to be elected members of the Board.

The CAS has struggled for a while on how to handle the ACAS. The periodic exam restructurings sometimes seem designed to kill off the designation.

In the ’90s, you had to pass three post-associate exams to become a fellow, and the late ’90s restructuring cut that to two. Ten years or so before that, you needed just five exams to become associate but 10 to make fellow. The trend has been to effectively discourage associateship and encourage fellowship.

In the early aughts, there was even talk of doing away with the designation. That’s practically impossible, as the organization could never figure out what to do with the existing career associates.

They couldn’t strip them of their attainment. First it wouldn’t be the right thing to do. But the ethical problem wasn’t the biggest one.

Every state’s laws recognize associateship as the level of competency needed to sign an opinion. To change that, the NAIC would have to draft model legislation, then 50 state legislatures would have to enact it.

Aside from bothering 51 important organizations with inside baseball – which would be bad enough – the CAS would have been left to explain why associates were the right people to sign opinions before, but not anymore.

And of course, career associates would have sued the CAS, noting the action would be an unfair taking of their ability to make a living by signing opinions.

Bringing career associates fully into the fold seems to me an idea overdue. I’ve worked with a couple of chief pricing actuaries who were career associates, and they were certainly bright and sober enough to cast a CAS ballot.

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