Find answers to frequently asked questions on the IFoA’s proposed adoption of Chartered status.
Members of the IFoA voted to adopt Chartered Actuary designations in a vote conducted online between 15 November and 13 December 2022. Voting is now closed.
These FAQs were created during that campaign to inform voting members and on the basis of their queries.
Chartered Actuary is the proposed new designation for all IFoA-qualified actuaries. As a professional body chartered by the British Crown, the IFoA can opt to use the designation ‘Chartered’, as many other professions, such as human resource professionals, insurers, surveyors, architects, engineers, and accountants, currently do.
The IFoA’s governing Council believes that chartered designation will increase recognition of the level of qualification actuaries have achieved and the standards they work to, particularly outside of traditional actuarial practice areas; this is because chartered is a highly valued level of qualification and status, in addition to already being well established in certain other professions.
Additionally, and crucially, chartered status is legally protected in a way that the word ‘actuary’ currently isn’t. At the moment, anyone carrying out actuarial work can call themselves an actuary, regardless of whether they are qualified or not. Under chartered status, only someone who is a qualified member of the IFoA would be able to call themselves a Chartered Actuary. We believe this would increase the protection to the public, as when dealing with a Chartered Actuary, they would be engaging with a regulated, qualified professional who operates to high levels of expertise.
Under the proposal:
The IFoA currently has 15,868 Fellows and 835 Associate members around the world.
The proposal does not change designations for student members.
This two-level chartered designation is an established practice in certain other professions, such as HR, architecture, and accountancy, whose professional bodies use variations on chartered associate, chartered member, and chartered fellow.
Matt Saker is a Chief Actuary and Fellow of the IFoA. Provided he is not mis-representing his position, he can use any reasonable terms to describe his position, role, and level of qualification.
Our suggested options under the proposal are:
Other options include:
Actuaries are increasingly working outside the traditional actuarial practice areas of insurance and pensions. Chartered status is already well established in certain other professions and the IFoA’s governing Council believes that extending chartered designation to actuaries will increase recognition of the level of qualification actuaries have achieved and the standards they work to, especially outside of traditional actuarial practice areas.
Additionally, economic pressures and technological advances, such as artificial intelligence, bring an increasing risk that employers accept lower standards of qualification in exchange for lower salaries. The Chartered Actuary designation counters this, by emphasising and protecting the distinction between individuals we accredit as qualified to undertake actuarial work and those we do not.
We are in a competitive actuarial marketplace. The use of ‘Chartered’ for actuaries is something only the IFoA could use and the change should enhance IFoA actuaries in comparison.
No. The proposal makes allowance for those who would prefer to continue using the current post-nominals. Chartered Actuary designation is in addition to these.
Under the proposal:
The proposal to adopt the designation ‘Chartered Actuary’ is being put to a member vote. This means that all qualified members – Fellows and Associates – will be invited to cast a vote for or against the proposal between 15 November and 13 December.
Honorary Fellows also have a vote on this proposed change to the IFoA’s bye-laws, although they will not be permitted to use the term “Chartered” or the associated post-nominals.
If the membership vote by a simple majority to adopt the Chartered Actuary designation the proposal will then be sent to Privy Council for formal approval.
The ballot will offer two voting options: yes and no.
The Privy Council provided approval in principle on the proposal for the Chartered Actuary designation in May 2022. Following a positive member vote, formal approval might be expected within around 12 months. The designation could be put into use once Privy Council approval was secured.
The IFoA’s constitution sets out that only Associates and Fellows vote on changes to bye-laws. In accordance with this, the following member categories will not be voting on the proposal to adopt Chartered Actuary designations: Student, Affiliate, CAA and SAA.
No. There is no impact on the pathway to qualification and the qualification process remains the same as before.
Accrediting IFoA actuaries as ‘Chartered’ is intended to increase recognition of the high level of qualification our members have achieved and the very high professional standards to which they are held, wherever they are based. These proposals include no changes to the current requirements for IFoA qualifications, only to the designation awarded to those who have successfully achieved them.
The IFoA continually works to keep educational programmes and professional regulation relevant, while also sufficiently rigorous to maintain trust in the profession. Chartered Actuary represents no change to this approach. Instead, it gives the public increased confidence that when dealing with a Chartered Actuary, they are engaging with someone who is regulated and operates to high levels of technical expertise.
Indeed, the examination process is not being changed by virtue of this proposal. The same high level of achievement will be assessed in setting exams and before awarding passes to candidates ahead of them qualifying as an Associate and ultimately as a Fellow.
No. While Associateship has long conferred generalist qualification, Fellowship is and will remain our ‘gold standard’ qualification. This will not change.
The proposed Chartered designation retains the essential distinction between Fellows and Associates, in both long-form title and post-nominals. We know this distinction is important to our members, as well as to employers and regulators.
Council has been considering this step for many years and initially focused on offering the same chartered status to both Associates and Fellows. Council acknowledged that while this did not change the difference between Associates and Fellows, it might be perceived as enhancing the status of Associates at the expense of Fellows. Hence in 2020 Council sought provisional agreement from the Privy Council to use differentiated chartered designations that recognised the important distinction between Associates and Fellows more clearly
The IFoA currently has 15,868 Fellows and 835 Associate members around the world.
IFoA Associate members have met the international standards established by the International Actuarial Association since 2019.
IFoA Fellowship builds on the Associate qualification to create a cadre of members with specialist competencies and greater professional experience, and is seen as the gold standard for the profession. This two-level membership structure is consistent with those of the majority of UK Royal Charter professional bodies.
The proposal to introduce Chartered designation retain this important distinction.
Under the proposals:
Reserved roles will be unaffected by these proposals. Should members vote to adopt Chartered Actuary designations, only Chartered Actuary (Fellows) would be eligible to apply for the practising certificate required to fulfil reserved roles, as currently only Fellows are.
Anybody admitted as an Associate or Fellow via a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) will be entitled to use the appropriate Chartered designation, just like any other Associate or Fellow.
An MRA means that IFoA accepts qualifications or credentials awarded by another body as equivalent to our own. So these actuaries have passed examinations and accrued experience just as IFoA-qualified actuaries have done.
MRAs are currently in place with:
Yes. Currently anyone can call themselves an actuary.
Many actuarial roles are unregulated, so there is currently no legal protection to prevent under-qualified, or even completely unqualified, individuals from fulfilling them. We believe that the combination of increasing economic pressures and technological advances, such as artificial intelligence, may bring a growing risk that employers accept lower standards of qualification in exchange for lower salaries. The Chartered Actuary designation counters this, by emphasising and protecting the distinction between individuals we accredit as qualified to undertake actuarial work and those we do not. This means employers and the public can have confidence and peace of mind knowing the standards of the person they are relying on.
Chartered status is awarded by an authorised accrediting body. To claim to be a chartered professional without this accreditation would amount to fraud and be actionable in law.
The word ‘actuary’ is currently afforded no such legal protection.
If members vote to adopt the designation, the IFoA would be the only actuarial body in the world awarding chartered status to actuaries
No. If members vote to adopt the designation, the IFoA would be the only actuarial body in the world awarding chartered status to actuaries.
Chartered status originated in the UK, though it has been adopted in some other countries. It is possible that other national actuarial bodies might follow our lead in future and award chartered status to their actuaries. But the IFoA charter would be issued by the British Crown on the basis of standards that are widely recognised to be world-leading, so we are confident that the value of the accreditation will endure.
If our voting members reject the proposal then IFoA actuaries will continue to be known simply as IFoA Fellows or Associates, using the FIA/FFA and AIA/AFA post-nominals.
However, the IFoA Council believes that a move to Chartered Actuary designation for all qualified members would protect and advance the status of IFoA actuaries globally and lay the foundations for a flourishing profession for decades to come.
If a majority of the votes cast support the proposal to adopt the Chartered Actuary designation, the proposal will be sent to Privy Council for formal approval.
Privy Council is an interdepartmental part of the UK government and advisers to the King. In May 2022 it provided approval in principle on the proposal for Chartered Actuary designation. Formal approval would be expected within around 12 months following a positive member vote. The designation can only be put into use once this approval has been secured.
The IFoA is in dialogue with employers regarding Chartered Actuary and will step up efforts to familiarise this stakeholder group with the designation while awaiting Privy Council approval.
In 2018 the IFoA consulted on proposals to rebrand the IFoA Associate qualification as Chartered Actuary. There was strong support for the proposals from employers, industry bodies and other national actuarial associations, as well as from Students and Associates.
However, in the online survey 60% of Fellows who responded expressed concerns, mostly around the prominence of the distinction between Associate and Fellow qualifications going forward. This was mainly due to the fact that the Chartered Actuary designation was originally intended to apply to both Associates and Fellows. Although there was no change envisaged to the relative differences between Associates and Fellows, Council acknowledged a concern from a potential perception that the use of the same chartered status for Associates might diminish the role of Fellows. This is no longer the case, as the differentiated chartered designations clearly distinguish between Associates and Fellows.
In other words, when adapting the current proposals, Council reflected on and incorporated feedback from the 2018 consultation.
No. In 2018, the proposal was to rebrand the IFoA Associateship qualification as Chartered Actuary. Fellows would have held both Chartered Actuary and Fellow status. The IFoA consulted on this proposal and 60% of Fellows responding to the consultation expressed concerns.
Council considered the competencies of Associate and Fellow grades and the concerns expressed by Fellows before proceeding to secure approval in principle from the Privy Council in May 2022 on amended proposals.
The proposal now being put to a member vote is the result of that work and would award chartered status to both Associates and Fellows, while retaining a clear distinction between the grades.
The Faculty of Actuaries was granted a royal charter in 1868 and the Institute of Actuaries received in 1884. When the two organisations merged in 2010, the Institute’s charter was amended to be held by the joint body.
Chartered designation for qualified members was considered in 2009 – just before the merger – and in 2018. On both occasions, consultations were put to the membership and plans revised on the basis of responses.
With actuaries increasingly working outside the traditional actuarial practice areas of insurance and pensions, the idea of Chartered status becomes ever-more compelling.
We are in a competitive actuarial marketplace. The use of ‘Chartered’ for actuaries is something only the IFoA could use and the change should enhance IFoA actuaries in comparison to actuaries who are members of other actuarial bodies.
No, it’s neither.
The proposal to adopt the Chartered Actuary designation preserves existing distinctions in membership (ie Associate and Fellow) and does not dilute the prestige of IFoA qualifications – no one loses out.
Accrediting our actuaries as ‘Chartered’ is intended to increase external recognition of the high level of qualification they have achieved and the very high professional standards to which they are held, wherever they are based.
The IFoA continues to work tirelessly on its members’ behalf to keep educational programmes and professional regulation relevant, while also sufficiently rigorous to maintain trust in the profession. Chartered Actuary represents no change to this approach.
The current proposal has been designed to address concerns raised by members in consultations in 2009 and 2018. We are also collating responses from comments on social media posts and attendees of webinars.
The vast majority of these concerns continue to be around retention of a clear distinction between membership grades. The current proposals not only address this issue, but also make provision for those members who wish to continue to use their current designations even if Chartered Actuary is adopted.
We do acknowledge the concerns that some members still hold, as in this blog from recruitment agency IGA Talent which represents an independent external voice addressing and assuaging those types of concerns
We certainly encourage discussion of the issues around Chartered Actuary on social media and also use social media to point members to independent voices on the topic, such as Nick Foster’s recent blog.
While the IFoA does not routinely respond to all social media comments, we have tried to address all the issues raised, including those on social media, in these FAQs.
The most frequently voiced objections to the proposal to adopt Chartered Actuary designations are:
All but this last point – which is subjective – are dealt with in these FAQs and in the blogs and articles published over the course of the current campaign.
While demand for actuarial skills in our traditional fields of insurance and pensions is likely to remain high for some years to come, the IFoA/Council believes that over the coming 10-15 years we will see a gradual decline in demand as more and more defined benefit pensions schemes reach buy-out and processes within insurance companies are automated through the introduction of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Because of this, if we want demand for actuarial skills to remain high, the profession needs to explore and exploit new domains of work.
This is in the interests of all of our members. In particular, the timeline for this change is well within the career horizon of the majority of our current members, many of whom will need to move into new domains over the coming 10-15 years.
We strongly believe that introducing the Chartered designation will widen the appeal of our qualifications and so help to facilitate this transition.
While we encourage members to adopt the proposed new designations and post-nominals, we understand that not all members will want to. Council took the decision to provide flexibility in response to member feedback received in consultations in 2009 and 2018.
Members who wish to continue to use the established designations of Associate and Fellow may decide to do so because they are working in more traditional actuarial practice areas, such as insurance and pensions, where these designations are well recognised. Of course, chartered status is also well established by other professions working in these areas, such as insurance practitioners and accountants. Our view is that the proposed new chartered designations are unlikely to cause great confusion.
If members vote to adopt Chartered Actuary designations, the IFoA will work to familiarise employers with their practical use and with the fact that there will be members who chose to stick with our traditional descriptors.
Adopting chartered designations for the IFoA’s Associate and Fellow members will have no effect on CERAs.
The IFoA makes provision for retirement, but has no membership category for retired members – they are simply retired Fellows or Associates of the IFoA. Proposals for Chartered Actuary make no material change to this approach.
So, if the membership vote to adopt Chartered Actuary designations, retired qualified members could refer to themselves as retired Chartered Actuary (Fellow) or retired Chartered Actuary (Associate).
The IFoA maintains relationships with numerous employer stakeholders and has consulted with them formally over the issue of chartered status in 2018 and through a roundtable event in 2022.
Should Chartered Actuary designations be adopted, Fellowship would remain a prerequisite for many roles in insurance and pensions. Employers are completely supportive of maintaining this. They rely on highly-qualified, well-regulated actuaries with specific industry knowledge to protect their commercial value and to ensure they meet regulatory requirements. Employers have indicated absolutely no appetite for lower standards in these challenging times.
Our employer stakeholders are generally supportive of the proposal to move to Chartered status because it is a well-recognised designation globally.