CAA: A Global Vision to Strengthen Financial Security Systems

Creating an educational model for building actuarial capacity Ken Guthrie

In October 2016, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA) announced an agreement to establish a nonprofit, public interest joint venture organization, named CAA Global.

This organization was established to oversee, deliver and promote the certified actuarial analyst (CAA) qualification. The CAA is designed to give those working in actuarial support roles and the broader financial services sector a path to acquire sound technical skills, and also to bring them into a professional framework to increase the public’s confidence in the work they do. The CAA also facilitates the growth of the actuarial profession in emerging markets where it is just starting to develop.

To earn the CAA qualification, a student must:

  • Pass the five examination modules, which include coverage of topics such as statistics, financial mathematics, and short- and long-term actuarial models.
  • Provide evidence of one year of relevant work experience.
  • Pass the Online Professional Awareness Test (OPAT).
  • Join an accredited association such as the IFoA or the SOA Center for Certified Actuarial Analysts.

Since the time of the original announcement, a full governance structure has been implemented, including the CAA Global Board, which receives input from its Education and Marketing Committees. Each component of the governance structure has membership drawn from both founding organizations (the SOA and the IFoA). Strong efforts have been made to introduce the qualification to a wide variety of audiences through events such as meetings of the International Actuarial Association (IAA); IFoA and SOA member events in Asia, Europe and the United States; and the Asian and Indian Actuarial Conferences. Direct outreach to employers and university faculty is also occurring. Beyond the United Kingdom and United States, interest is strong from India, Indonesia, South Africa and Kenya.

There are currently around 1,000 candidates actively studying to obtain the CAA qualification—a significant uptick since the establishment of this SoA/IFoA joint venture. The typical CAA candidate is between 20 and 35 years old. The current geographical spread of candidates is principally within Sub-saharan Africa, United Kingdom and Ireland, other European countries and Southeast Asia. There is a small and growing number of candidates in North America. (See Figure 1 for a breakdown of candidates by region.)

Figure 1: Breakdown of Candidates Registered for CAA Exams
Region Mix
United Kingdom 35%
Africa 31%
Europe  9%
South Asia  7%
North America  7%
Other Asia  4%
Southeast Asia  4%
Middle East  2%
East Asia  2%
Oceana  1%
South America  0%

Recently joining the SOA and IFoA as an accredited association of CAA Global is the Actuarial Society of South Africa. This expansion broadens the global network and scope of the qualification. It also further promotes the worldwide development of actuarial science while providing support with necessary technical skills to those industries that rely on actuarial skills.

The qualification also has complemented the U.K. government’s recent focus on apprenticeship programs. In the United Kingdom, the actuarial technician apprenticeship is an entry-level role. Apprentices study while working as part of a team, supporting qualified actuaries. Apprenticeships can last for two to three years, taking into account previous experience as well as study and exam progress. The CAA qualification forms the basis of the educational element of this apprenticeship scheme.

Another significant milestone for the program came when the Georgian Actuarial Association chose CAA as the educational vehicle for building actuarial capacity in the country. Recent positive economic growth for this country, which straddles western Asia and eastern Europe, has driven a need for enhanced financial security services. The local association approached CAA Global with an interest in building competency in basic actuarial skills for its regulatory body using the curriculum and examinations of the CAA qualification. Applying the CAA qualification in this manner fits exactly into the original vision for its potential impact and prolonged value. CAA Global is hopeful that its work in Georgia will become a model for other jurisdictions to consider and adapt the CAA to their specific marketplace. Other national actuarial associations have already starting discussions, which is a good sign.

Ken Guthrie is managing director of Education at the Society of Actuaries. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of CAA Global.

Copyright © 2018 by the Society of Actuaries, Chicago, Illinois.