Meet the American Academy of Actuaries (AAA)

By Thomas F. Wildsmith, President, AAA

April 2016


The AAA is the national association for actuaries practicing in the United States. When the Academy was established just over 50 years ago, actuaries already had a long history in the States, with a well-developed body of knowledge, multiple professional organizations, and well-established examination programs. But there was a problem—anyone could present themselves to the public as an actuary, without regard to training, background, or expertise. The Academy was established to professionalize the U.S. actuarial community by providing the standards and disciplinary process necessary to be recognized as a self-regulating profession—to ensure that U.S. actuaries serve the public with the professionalism that it needs and deserves.

The Academy sets the qualification and professionalism standards for actuaries practicing in the United States. Through the Actuarial Standards Board, we promulgate the actuarial standards of practice for the United States. Through the Actuarial Board for Counsel and Discipline, we provide the basic disciplinary framework for the profession. By providing seminars and webinars on professionalism issues, as well as speaking about those issues at actuarial clubs and meetings all over the country, we fulfill our promise to our members and to the profession to offer opportunities and resources to ensure they can meet the high standards expected of them by each other, their clients, employers, policymakers, and the public. In particular, in the past couple of years, the Academy has introduced new resources to facilitate earning and tracking continuing education in light of the our robust requirements that are relevant to actuaries practicing in the United States, including an Actuarial eLearning Center that allows members to earn continuing education credits in professionalism and test their knowledge of ethics and the Code of Professional Conduct.

The Academy is also the voice of the U.S. actuarial profession to the nation. We exist to serve the public and the U.S. actuarial profession. Unlike a trade association or union, we do not represent the narrow commercial interests of our members or the industries they work in. Amid the cacophony of political voices in Washington, the Academy distinguishes itself through objectivity, independence, and nonpartisanship. Our information is valued because we are recognized as a credible, nonpartisan resource. Maintaining this credibility requires us to be willing to objectively consider the concerns of all affected stakeholders. We can’t fully serve the public interest if we approach it in a self-serving manner. All Academy volunteers are required to acknowledge adherence with our Conflict of Interest Policy and attest to compliance with continuing education requirements. Every Academy document that is published goes through not only peer review, but a legal review, a policy review, and a communications review to ensure that it is accurate, unbiased, nonpartisan, and effective. This is why legislators, regulators, and journalists turn to the Academy as a trusted, reliable source of independent, objective insights on critical public policy issues such as Medicare and Social Security.

Our world is becoming more global. No nation stands alone in today’s world, and U.S. actuaries are affected by developments in other countries. We all benefit from the development of a robust actuarial profession around the globe. The Academy believes that the International Actuarial Association (IAA) serves a vital role as the “United Nations” for the actuarial profession—that’s why we’re actively engaged at the IAA as the national association representing actuaries practicing in the United States.

The Academy has two primary missions. First, to ensure that U.S. actuaries—both individually and collectively—grow to be all that we can be as professionals. Second, to provide U.S. actuaries with a voice that can bring our professionalism to bear on the public policy questions facing our nation. Both aspects of our mission demand objectivity. Without a strong dedication to professionalism, and the internal cultural structure to support it, the Academy would be unable to inform important policy discussions that directly affect the public.

The Academy takes seriously its charge to serve the public and the U.S. actuarial profession. What does the Academy do? Promote professionalism. Engage in public policy. Serve the public interest.

Table of Contents

»   Representation Activities
»   Meet the American Academy of Actuaries (AAA)
»   Upcoming Events
»   Publications
»   Public Statements
»   News from Sections
»   News from Member Associations
»   Outside the Office