New route to ASA?

As those of you who still visit the blog know, there's basically only one reason to check in these days: updates to the handy pie chart (actually my submission for the first FAP module was graded and I passed so I do need to update it, but that will come later). When I introduced the pie chart I ran through the overall structure of the path to ASA and concluded:

The nice thing about this whole process is that it is well defined within the profession and each additional accomplishment generally is rewarded with raises and increased employment opportunities.

Well, that may change. Specifically the well defined part, but in the long run I can see the raises and increased employment opportunities being reduced as a result.

On the afternoon of Friday, August 14th, the SOA, CAS, and CIA jointly released a letter and accompanying FAQ about a major change to the credentialing process for future actuaries. The proposal, called the Future Education Methods (FEM), would allow students at certain universities to earn exemptions from preliminary actuarial exams based on their grades in certain classes as long as they pass Exam P/1 while they are in school.

This proposal would allow many students to graduate near-ASA, with only the FAP modules and the APC remaining for an actuarial credential. In fact, without the other preliminary exams to study for as an undergrad, I wouldn't be surprised to see many more students completing the FAP and possibly studying for FSA exams before graduating and thereby creating a steady flow of entry level ASAs and near-FSAs.

I feel such a move devalues the ASA in particular, along with the FSA, ACAS, and FCAS. I don't feel that the universities that would be accredited for the FEM would be able to consistently and satisfactorily provide the rigor that the preliminary exams currently provide, and over time confidence in the knowledge level and professionalism of actuaries would begin to drop.

The proposal includes a request that comments be sent to fem@actuarialdirectory.org, but the deadline to submit comments is September 10, 2009. It is expected that this proposal will be considered and possibly enacted by a vote of the SOA and CAS boards at their Fall 2009 meetings, without a vote by SOA or CAS members. Therefore, it is very important that any concerns or objections to the FEM proposal be raised during the exposure period. If no major objections are raised it is expected that the SOA board will approve this alternative route to recognition of early actuarial education.

This past week I put together a letter stating my main objections to the proposal, which you can view as a PDF. Other actuaries are also sharing their letters on the Actuarial Outpost. If you are in the actuarial profession or know anyone else who is I encourage you to get informed and make sure that your voice is heard by the Boards of Directors before the fall meetings.


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