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Continuing professional development

 

Compliance with the Continuing Professional Development (“CPD”) requirements of the Actuarial Society of South Africa (“ASSA”) is, with effect from 1 January 2008, a condition of continuing membership of ASSA as set out in the bye laws.

Non compliance will lead to sanctions as determined by the Council from time to time, including termination of membership, as set out in the bye laws.
ASSA’s CPD requirements were first issued in March 1996 as PGN801.

The mission of ASSA is to ensure that the professional conduct and skills of members always meet the highest standards; to develop and expand the expertise of members as markets and conditions change; to ensure the relevance and enhance the role and reputation of the profession, both in South Africa and within the international actuarial community, and to harness the expertise of members to inform public debate.  

CPD framework 

ASSA has adopted the following framework for describing the manner in which it will develop the profession in order to achieve its mission. This framework consists of three elements:

  • The cognitive strand, which covers the development of the actuary’s technical skill. 
  • The normative strand, which covers the manner in which each actuary undertakes to deliver these skills, by adhering to the evolving code of professional conduct, as determined by ASSA, and the ethical requirements of the profession. 
  • The organisational strand, which covers the development of our corporate body, ASSA, which is tasked with ensuring that the skills are in place and delivered in the agreed manner.

Members must engage in lifelong professional learning. Prior to qualification, the learning is guided by the syllabi for the various professional examinations and other programmes required as part of the professional qualification. After qualification, the learning is guided by the CPD requirements. In general, therefore, ASSA’s CPD requirements apply only to qualified members. However, student and Associate members, once they have been members of ASSA for more than ten years, are also bound by these requirements.

CPD is the maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge and skill and the development of the personal qualities necessary for the execution of professional and associated duties throughout the actuary's working lifetime.

It specifically includes:

  • The development and maintenance of competence in the actuary's current speciality or in a new speciality. In this respect, members are reminded that it is a requirement of ASSA’s Professional Conduct Standards that, when undertaking assignments, actuaries be satisfied with their personal competence in the relevant matter, unless acting in co-operation with or under the guidance of someone with the requisite competence.
  • The deepening of the actuary’s understanding of the normative and organizational strands of the framework adopted by ASSA for the development of the profession. These are referred to as “professional matters”. Further explanation of these concepts is provided in the framework for professional learning given below.
Members are, therefore, expected to engage in lifelong professional learning with regard to all three strands of the professional development framework.

In formulating an appropriate personal CPD program, the actuary should be mindful of the value of diverse views. This implies a need to discuss, debate and share ideas with others, including those outside their normal work colleagues and clients. To support this, it may be both necessary and desirable for actuaries to undertake a range of CPD activities, including those provided by employers and from outside the Actuarial Profession.  

Framework for professional learning 

A framework for professional learning may be considered as follows:

  • Cognitive strand - The activities, both formal and informal, that ensure the development of the technical skills necessary for the actuary to provide the services required by his or her client or employer.
  • Normative strand - The activities, both formal and informal, that ensure the development of the standards and expectations relating to the manner in which each actuary undertakes to deliver these skills, by adhering to the evolving code of professional conduct and the ethical requirements of the profession.

There is a distinction between appropriate conduct and appropriate ethics. A code of conduct is a list of specified behaviours that can be identified and exhibited (such as the Highway Code). ASSA members are required to adhere to the professional conduct standards, the guidance notes, and the constitution and bye-laws. On the other hand, ethics could be defined as a set of values practised by members of a profession which, if lived out in practice, should avoid disappointment in the behaviour of members by the various stakeholders of the profession. These may be thought of as the values which ASSA would expect members to rely on in situations where specific conduct has not been defined.

Ongoing learning relating to this strand is included under professional matters and seeks to ensure that the member maintains a current understanding of, and contribution to, the values and behavioural expectations of the profession. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, attendance at relevant convention and/or sessional meetings, or participation in appropriate ASSA committees.

  • Organisational strand – the activities, both formal and informal, that result in the ongoing development of our corporate body, ASSA, to better serve the interests of both members and external stakeholders.

ASSA, as a professional body, is created and legitimised by its members, and therefore relies on its members to be aware of its functions, and to participate in their execution. Currently, these functions include, but are not limited to:

  • ensuring that a code of conduct and guidance notes are developed and maintained 
  • requiring compliance by members with the code of conduct and guidance notes 
  • ensuring that any public interest duties of members are set out in the professional guidance notes  
  • ensuring that a process exists for emerging issues and developments to be evaluated by the profession, and guidance to be altered as appropriate 
  • ensuring that complaints against members progress smoothly through the disciplinary system 
  • encouraging and disseminating research and ensuring that the education curriculum is up to date 
  • ensuring (but not necessarily providing) professional education opportunities, both prior to and post qualification
    having a process for engaging the regulator and the public on matters where the profession can be expected to have valuable insights 
  • encouraging members to voluntary community service, such as access to actuarial advice by those unable to pay.

Ongoing learning relating to the Organisational Strand is included under professional matters and seeks to ensure that the member maintains an understanding of, and contributes to, the structures that support the organizational functions and the current agendas and challenges. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, attendance at relevant convention and/or sessional meetings, or participation in appropriate ASSA committees.  

Further reading 

A more detailed discussion of the professional learning curriculum can be found in the paper “Planning Lifelong Professionalisation Learning for Actuaries” by Lowther & McMillan, SAAJ Vol 6, 2006. Members can access the paper via the ASSA website.
There are other skills, such as business management and communication skills, which are likely to be valuable to the actuary in his or her work. These skills are specifically not included under ‘professional matters’, but could be included under verifiable or self assessed CPD activities.