Harnessing New Changes

Introducing the SOA’s new web-based regulatory resource Joe Wurzburger

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) is proud to announce a new web-based resource that will offer members an easy way to search for recently-released regulatory changes. The resource will launch with regulatory updates for U.S. actuaries practicing in health and life. Check it out.

The resource was developed in response to consistent input over several years from members about the difficulty of responding to regulatory change. The SOA Board of Directors asked a task force, led by Jennifer Gillespie, FSA, MAAA, and Bill Sayre, FSA, MAAA, to investigate whether there was an opportunity for the SOA to provide assistance to members in dealing with regulatory change that did not significantly duplicate or supplant work done by consulting firms or other actuarial or industry organizations. The task force discovered that while it was easy to get email alerts announcing breaking regulatory changes, it was much harder to find out what new regulations were released a few weeks ago. The task force suggested that a web-based resource with a curated list of recent regulatory changes by practice area would fill a missing gap.

Developing the Resource

With this solution came many questions:

  • Who will create and maintain this resource? It was determined that the best source of subject-matter expertise for this project would come from the SOA’s sections. Seven sections answered the call: Financial Reporting, Health, Long-Term Care Insurance, Marketing and Distribution, Product Development, Smaller Insurance Company and Taxation.
  • How will this resource be organized? While the input will come from sections, it was determined that the best way to organize the content is not by section, but rather by practice area. It also will eventually be organized by country; the initial version is for the United States, but future iterations will include other countries. The first two practice areas represented are health and life (which was expanded to include life & annuity).
  • How many links should there be? While no firm limit was determined, the intent is for this resource to be a curated list, not an exhaustive one. The focus will be on more recent and significant changes.
  • What types of sources will be linked? The focus will be on primary sources (e.g., the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) or Medicare), with a limited number of noncommercial secondary sources to be considered. Content primarily will be for national regulation rather than at the individual state level.
  • Will this resource provide guidance or interpretation? NO! This is a very important point to make clear. This resource is designed to be the first place an actuary would look regarding regulation, but not the last. That is to say that an actuary would need to do further research in order to get guidance or interpretation. This resource will only point him or her to the original piece of regulation.

Keeping Information Current

One risk when creating a web-based resource such as this is that the content could become stale. Many people feel a natural level of excitement when asked to create, but that excitement can fade quickly when asked to maintain. Three keys were identified to address this dilemma:

  1. Carefully recruited practice area teams: As discussed earlier, the resource is organized by practice area. Therefore, volunteers from sections would need to be organized into practice area teams. By carefully recruiting these teams and entrusting strong leaders for each one, we feel we can minimize the risk of stale content. Tony Litterer, FSA, MAAA, and Josh Hammerquist, ASA, MAAA, have been capable leaders for the life and annuity and health practice area teams, respectively. Without their strong leadership, it is hard to imagine seeing such fast and effective progress in rolling out this resource to our members.
  2. Monthly reviews: The site will be reviewed by each practice area team at least monthly. The practice area teams know that this is a requirement, and that failure to do so will result in the resource being taken down. There may not be extensive updates each month, as in some months there may not be much change needed. But users may rest assured that whatever they are looking at in the SOA Regulatory Resource has been reviewed for relevance within the past month. Users will be able to know when it was last reviewed by looking at the “last reviewed” date on the top of the webpage.
  3. Dedicated resource: Timeliness is everything in dealing with regulatory change. The SOA quickly realized that existing staff and volunteer resources were not sufficient; to be able to respond in a timely manner, we contracted with attorney Scott Cipinko to ensure the web resource would meet members’ needs. Scott has extensive experience tracking legislative and regulatory change in the insurance industry. His skill set and past experiences were a perfect fit for this project, and he has jumped into it with both feet. Without Scott’s tireless energy and collaborative nature, we would have had many months still to go before we could have launched this member resource.

What’s next?

Now that the first two practice area resources have rolled out, we intend to evaluate them continuously. We will track metrics to see how they are being used, and we will respond to feedback we receive from users. The ultimate goal is to provide a valuable resource to our members. It needs to be relevant and user-friendly. Our ability to respond nimbly to metrics and feedback will go a long way toward helping us achieve that goal.

We also intend to expand the offerings beyond the initial two practice areas. A long-term care (LTC) practice area team is already hard at work creating an LTC resource under the leadership of Bob Yee, FSA, MAAA. The possibility exists for other practice areas to be added to the mix as well, not to mention expanding to include geographies outside of the United States.

Perhaps most important, we want to hear from you! Recall that the genesis of this entire project was feedback from you. Now it’s your opportunity to help shape it. Let us know what you like about this resource, as well as where it is lacking. What type of information is missing? What would make it more user-friendly? Would you like to volunteer to help as it expands into additional practice areas or geographies?

So, if you haven’t already, please spend some time getting familiar with the SOA’s Regulatory Resource. We’d love to hear what you think.

Joe Wurzburger, FSA, MAAA, is a staff fellow, Health, at the Society of Actuaries.

Copyright © 2016 by the Society of Actuaries, Chicago, Illinois.