SOA Professionalism Courses

Changing gears after 30 years Gena Long


The Society of Actuaries (SOA) is celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the Fellowship Admissions Course (FAC), the final requirement to attain an FSA designation. Since 1990, every candidate for fellowship with the SOA has been required to participate in the FAC. The first course was held in Toronto in September of that year. It began as a 2½-day in-person course with two business case studies by specialty track, five ethics case studies and a lecture on legal issues.

The one-day Associateship Professionalism Course (APC) was added to the ASA pathway in 2000 and gives candidates their first look at the Code of Professional Conduct, Standards of Practice, ethics and legal liability. Following the FAC model, the APC also makes use of the case study method.

Moving Ahead

Flash-forward to 2020, and a lot has changed—suddenly. The challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted the SOA to put in place remote learning solutions for its traditionally in-person professionalism courses. Fortunately, virtual meeting technology also has changed dramatically over the last decade and provides effective platforms for engaging and productive learning. New remote versions of the APC and FAC are now available, allowing candidates to continue progress toward their designations.

The APC and FAC remote courses include two components each: an online e-Learning component and a virtual meeting session component. Candidates complete the e-Learning individually and then participate in small-group virtual meetings for the case study discussions. FAC candidates also make their presentations during the virtual meeting sessions.

Flashback: The First FAC—September 1990

Bob McKay, head of SOA Education volunteer leadership at that time, was the course director at the first FAC. The full list of FAC faculty members includes:

• Bob McKay, FSA, FCIA (course director)
• Bill Bluhm, MAAA, FCA
• John Bertko, FSA, MAAA
• Brad Fowler, FSA, MAAA
• Curtis Huntington, FSA
• Robin Leckie, FSA
• Jean-Louis Massé, FSA, FCA, HONFFA
• Linden Cole, MAAA (SOA staff)

Future Direction

While the new remote course components will provide quality learning for candidates, the in-person discussion of the ethics case studies and the live candidate presentations at FAC are course elements that were designed to work best face-to-face. The in-person format gives candidates the opportunity to network, engage and learn from each other, as well as glean insights from experienced facilitator actuaries about ethical dilemmas they may face in the workplace. The in-person candidate presentations at the FAC create a setting that is similar to a work environment—without the pressure that might be felt in an actual workplace. Candidates also have the benefits of seeing fellow candidates present, and giving and receiving constructive feedback.

In addition, the FAC’s celebratory banquet with invited guests and the distribution of diplomas has evolved into a cherished tradition over its 30-year history. The banquet provides a memorable evening and gives new FSAs the opportunity to come together with their peers and family members to recognize the considerable accomplishment of earning an FSA. With that in mind, the virtual meeting component of the remote FAC will be offered only while restrictions on travel and physical distancing remain in place.

It is our hope that soon we’ll be able to bring our new fellows together to learn and celebrate their achievements.

Gena Long is director, Professionalism and University Relations, at the Society of Actuaries.

Copyright © 2020 by the Society of Actuaries, Chicago, Illinois.