CERA: A Global Credential

The SOA CERA pathway is adopting the global CERA syllabus wording Nancy Davis

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Since 2007, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) has offered a pathway to becoming a Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA). But did you know that the CERA is a global risk management credential that is recognized worldwide and transferable internationally?


On Nov. 13, 2009, 14 actuarial professional bodies signed a treaty to create the CERA Global Association. Ten years later, there are more than 5,000 CERAs spanning five continents.

The CERA Global Association (CGA) grants actuarial organizations the right to award the CERA credential to actuaries who satisfy the requirements documented in the CERA Global Treaty. Therefore, the SOA’s CERA pathway must conform to the CGA’s requirements.

A board, made up of representatives from each of the actuarial associations that offers the CERA credential to its members, governs the CGA. Kathy Wong, FSA, CERA, MAAA, is currently representing the SOA and is serving a three-year team on the board.

Additionally, a review panel, made up of volunteers from the member associations, supports the board by periodically reviewing the education and training pathways of the member associations and of actuarial organizations seeking to become CGA members. John Di Meo, FSA, CERA, MAAA; Ravi Bhandari, FSA, MAAA; and I represent the SOA on this review panel.

A Review of the Global CERA Syllabus

From time to time, the CGA reviews its syllabus, which covers seven learning areas:

  1. Enterprise risk management (ERM) concept and framework
  2. ERM process
  3. Risk categories and identification
  4. Risk modeling and aggregation of risks
  5. Risk measurement and assessment
  6. Risk management tools and techniques
  7. Capital assessment and allocation

The most recent syllabus review took place in 2018. The CGA Board established the Terms of Reference for the 2018 review, which included these areas of focus:

  • International Actuarial Association (IAA) education syllabus. The CERA pathway for each member organization must meet the learning objectives from the IAA education syllabus. The recently updated IAA syllabus includes a comprehensive ERM section that provides a thorough introduction to all aspects of ERM. The review was to consider if any changes were needed to the CERA syllabus because of the change.
  • Emerging risks. The review was to consider how the wording of objectives could be improved to highlight the importance of emerging risks.
  • Governance and strategy. The review was to ensure the syllabus addressed the questions: How does ERM affect or drive organizational strategy? and What is good governance following ERM principles?
  • Financial vs. nonfinancial organizations. The review was to consider how to address a perceived bias toward financial enterprises vs. nonfinancial organizations.
  • Technical vs. conceptual weighting. The review was to consider the right balance between technical and conceptual topics.

A working group made up of several members from the CGA Review Panel was formed to make recommendations for changes to the global CERA syllabus. Bhandari represented the SOA and was part of that working group, which spent several months thoughtfully reviewing the existing syllabus and recommending changes considering the Terms of Reference.

Suggested Syllabus Changes

After review, the working group did not recommend a fundamental rewriting of the syllabus; however, there were a significant number of suggested edits. The majority of the suggested changes were intended to address the Terms of Reference and to improve the clarity of the syllabus wording.

The areas of focus in the Terms of Reference were addressed as follows:

  • IAA education syllabus. The CERA syllabus is intended to cover each aspect of ERM in detail and, generally, at a higher cognitive level than the IAA education syllabus. The working group did not believe a change to the CERA syllabus was required to reflect the IAA syllabus update.
  • Emerging risks. The working group recommended expanding the number of learning outcomes that specifically address emerging risks from one to two. However, the working group did not believe it was appropriate to include details of specific risks viewed as emerging today, since emerging risks can change rapidly over time and the syllabus should be flexible enough to cover the future changing landscape.
  • Governance and strategy. The working group decided the existing CERA syllabus addressed the governance and strategy questions posed by the board and only suggested some wording edits to add clarity.
  • Financial vs. nonfinancial organizations. The working group recommended changes throughout the CERA syllabus to ensure there is not an undue bias toward risks that are relevant only to financial organizations. For example, a learning outcome related to risk identification and analysis previously listed multiple specific financial risks. It was reworded to cover “financial, environmental, operational, legal, reputational and strategic risks” to eliminate perceived bias toward financial services companies.
  • Technical vs. conceptual weighting. The working group performed a high-level analysis of the balance between technical and conceptual topics and determined that the current balance, which has slightly more conceptual topics than technical, was appropriate.

The CGA Board approved the working group’s recommendations with only minor changes.

Implications for SOA Candidates

Why does this matter to SOA candidates pursuing a CERA designation? It means the SOA’s CERA pathway will be modified as necessary to comply with the new global CERA syllabus.

While the changes to the global CERA syllabus are important, they are not dramatic. However, when the SOA publishes the learning objectives and learning outcomes for the Fall 2020 ERM Exam, they will look quite a bit different. That is because the SOA has decided to adopt the wording of the global CERA syllabus going forward. While the current ERM Exam learning outcomes comply with the meaning and intention of the global CERA syllabus, some of the wording is unique to the SOA CERA pathway.

Adopting the global CERA syllabus wording will streamline the process going forward. This is the first change that candidates for the CERA credential will see. Changes to FAP and the ERM Module may also be required to ensure compliance with the new global CERA syllabus.

Nancy Davis, FSA, is the curriculum general officer for the Corporate Finance and ERM Fellowship Track.

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