Society of Actuaries

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The Society of Actuaries (SOA) is a professional organization for actuaries based in North America. Its headquarters are located in Schaumburg, Illinois. The Society’s vision is for actuaries to be recognized as the leading professionals in the modeling and management of financial risk and contingent events. The Society of Actuaries is committed to its strategic vision and mission of advancing the actuarial profession. Its intent is to expand its relationships with members, volunteers and other actuarial organizations—nationally and globally—to enhance the role and overall impact of actuaries in general.

The Society of Actuaries is committed to:

  • Providing basic education in the fundamental principles of actuarial science, advanced education and professional development, and continuing education for practicing actuaries.
  • Conducting research to develop studies of historical experience and techniques for projections into the future, analyzing the actuarial aspects of public policy issues and providing the foundation for further expansion of the profession.
  • Promoting high standards of professional competence and conduct within the actuarial profession

Motto: "The work of science is to substitute facts for appearances and demonstrations for impressions." - John Ruskin

One recent priority of the SOA has been raising the visibility of the actuarial profession. The SOA won, along with its public relations firm GolinHarris, the PR Week Corporate Branding Campaign of the Year award for 2008. The award was given for the Society's efforts to revitalize the actuarial profession's "brand" in the US.

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Membership

The Society’s members are mainly involved in the life, health, and pension areas of the actuarial profession. The three designations offered by the Society are "Associate of Society of Actuaries" (ASA), "Fellow of the Society of Actuaries" (FSA), and "Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst" (CERA), which was introduced in 2007.

Requirements for membership for the SOA include the actuarial exams, a comprehensive series of competitive exams. Topics covered in the exams include mathematics, finance, insurance, economics, interest theory, life models, and actuarial science. Only Associates and Fellows are considered members of the Society. Non-members working in the actuarial profession and taking exams are often referred to as "students" or "candidates".

Associate 
Has an understanding of the basic mathematics underlying actuarial science and of the application of fundamental mathematical concepts to technical actuarial problems. The Associate attaining membership after July 31, 1995, has also demonstrated a general understanding of financial security systems and of fundamental investment management principles. The Associate attaining membership in 2000 or later has also completed a professionalism course covering the professional code of conduct and the importance of adherence to recognized standards of practice.
Fellow 
Has demonstrated a knowledge of the business environments within which financial decisions concerning pensions, life insurance, health insurance, and investments are made including the application of mathematical concepts and other techniques to the various areas of actuarial practice. The Fellow has further demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of the application of appropriate techniques to a specific area of actuarial practice.
Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst 
Has demonstrated a comprehensive knowledge of enterprise risk management. The CERA has been trained to apply both qualitative and quantitative insights to risk management and is qualified for such positions as risk analyst, risk manager and chief risk officer.

Associates and Fellows of the SOA are eligible for membership at the American Academy of Actuaries which represents and unites U.S. actuaries from all practice areas. A three-year responsible actuarial experience requirement may also apply. However, according to Martha Sikaras of the SOA, it is currently under discussion with the Academy as to whether CERAs will be eligible for Academy membership.

Preliminary exams

The first four exams, known as "Preliminary Exams" consist largely of core mathematics related to actuarial science including probability, statistics, interest theory, life contingencies, and risk models. Exams 1, 2, & 4, recently renamed P, FM, and C by the SOA, are common to both the SOA and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). The "third" examination (formerly labeled "Exam M") has been recently separated into two components (MFE and MLC under the SOA; 3F and 3L under the CAS). MFE and 3F are common to both societies. However, though the CAS will give credit for 3L to a student who passed MLC, the reverse does not hold.

Subject Matter SOA Exam CAS Exam Table Key
Probability P Exam 1 Exam Interchangeable
Financial Mathematics FM Exam 2 Exam Interchangeable
Modeling MFE and MLC Exam 3F and 3L MFE and Exam 3F are interchangeable. CAS will give credit for SOA exam MLC; SOA will not give credit for CAS exam 3L
Constructing Models C Exam 4 Exam Interchangeable

This joint sponsorship allows students to work on the initial requirements before they choose a specific discipline to pursue.

The syllabus has a tendency to be adjusted regularly, which makes comparing exams from different 5-year blocks somewhat difficult.

Upper-level exams

Upper-level exam topics for the SOA include plan design, risk classification, ratemaking, valuation, and finance & investments. Fellowship exams for the SOA cover applied modeling and an area of specialization chosen by the candidate.

ASA designation

Candidates earn the ASA designation by completing the following requirements:

  1. All candidates must complete Exams P, FM, MLC, MFE and C, collectively known as the preliminary education component. (Credit earned from a passing score on previous administrations of former SOA Courses 1–4 will be converted appropriately.)
  2. All candidates shall satisfy Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) for three subjects: economics, corporate finance and applied statistics. (VEE credit earned from a passing score on Course 2 and/or 4 will be converted appropriately.)
  3. All candidates must complete the Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice (FAP) Modules 1–8 and all related assessments.
  4. All candidates must also complete the Associateship Professionalism Course (APC). Candidates must also have an approved Application for Admission as an Associate on file, as described above.
  5. The CERA credential is an Associate level credential; as such, individuals earning this credential may also refer to themselves as Associates of the SOA.

CERA designation

Candidates earn the CERA credential by completing the following requirements:

  1. All candidates must complete Exams P, FM, MFE, and C. (Credit earned from a passing score on previous administrations of former SOA Courses 1-4 will be converted appropriately.)
  2. All candidates must satisfy Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) for Economics. (VEE credit earned from a passing score on Course 2 will be converted appropriately.)
  3. All candidates must complete the Advanced Finance/ERM examination and the Operational Risk CERA module.
  4. All candidates must complete the Associateship Professionalism Course (APC). Candidates must also have an approved Application for Admission as an Associate on file, as described above.

FSA designation

In 2007, candidates may earn their FSA in one of three ways:

1. Under the 2000 system requirements, candidates must complete Courses 1–8 and Professional Development (PD) followed by the Fellowship Admissions Course (FAC). The FAC is required of all candidates for Fellowship, and candidates may not attend the FAC until they have completed all requirements. Credit earned from a passing score on previous administrations of former SOA Courses 1–4 will be converted appropriately and can be applied towards these requirements.
2. Under the new system which took effect from 2007, candidates must complete the preliminary exam requirements, VEE, Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice (FAP) Modules 1–8 and both assessments and
A. Two FSA Modules*
B. Examination Company/Sponsor Perspective (CSP)*
C. Examination Design & Pricing (DP)*
D. Decision Making and Communication (DMAC) Module
E. Fellowship Admissions Course (FAC)
In the new system, candidates may not register for the DMAC module until all other educational requirements are completed. Successful completion of the DMAC module will qualify the candidate to attend the FAC.
* The FSA modules and FSA exams must be taken within a single specialty track.
Candidates specializing in U.S. Retirement Benefits must also complete the EA2A and EA2B examinations prior to qualifying for the DMAC Module and the Fellowship Admissions Course.
3. For candidates holding the CERA credential who proceed onto Fellowship, the following educational requirements must be completed:
A. VEE for Corporate Finance and Applied Statistics
B. Exam MLC
C. Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice (FAP) Modules 1-8 and all related assessments
D. Financial Economic Theory FSA Exam
E. Financial Economics FSA Module
F. Decision Making and Communication (DMAC) Module
G. Fellowship Admissions Course (FAC)

Candidates may not register for the DMAC module until all other educational requirements are completed. Successful completion of the DMAC module will qualify the candidate to attend the FAC.

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