IFoA Disciplinary Board member, Kevin Doerr, explains how the IFoA disciplinary process helps members, employers and the public interest - even if you never have to use it.
The number of allegations and adjudications handled by our Disciplinary and Capacity for Membership processes numbered under 15 and 20 this year and the vast majority of our members will never come in to contact with the Schemes.
Nonetheless, the IFoA’s disciplinary framework plays a crucial role in maintaining actuarial professional standards and public confidence in our profession.
Assuring public confidence
The professionalism, impartiality and competence of actuaries is relied upon by other professions who work with actuaries, by regulators and by the wider public. The work of actuaries is, for example, vitally important for members of pension schemes and holders of insurance policies. Maintaining the professional standards on which these groups rely, and at the same time ensuring that they can feel trust and confidence in the profession, is very much in the public interest.
To maintain those standards and that position of trust, we have very demanding examination entry standards, codes of practice, professional standards, and a continuing professional development scheme. The other essential part of the jigsaw, which is also key to maintaining professional standards and trust, is a Disciplinary Scheme. Without an effective Disciplinary Scheme poor conduct and actuarial work that falls below acceptable standards would not be addressed, and trust would be lost.
The design of the Schemes helps to assure public confidence by being easily accessible to those making a complaint, by including lay people in the decision making process (not just actuaries), by being transparent (disciplinary determinations are published) and by having a range of sanctions that can be applied to suit the level of misconduct that has been established. This includes sufficient ‘teeth’ to deal with the more serious cases.
Supporting our members
Members clearly benefit if public confidence and trust in our profession is maintained, and our careers would be much more difficult without it. That trust in our profession is also a source of pride for many of us.
It is also, of course, vital that the disciplinary process is fair and transparent for members against whom a complaint is made. Members in that position will receive guidance so that they are fully aware of each step in the process. Members can also be confident that the investigation will be thorough and impartial, and will involve participation by actuaries who have relevant experience and knowledge.
Where misconduct has been established great care is taken in selecting the appropriate sanction, as the purpose of the Disciplinary Scheme is to maintain standards. Sanctions will be proportionate and may include a period of education, training or supervised practice.
As part of our Disciplinary Scheme we also identify trends, which we can use to help improve professional and conduct standards across our membership as a whole by introducing guidance and training materials.
Capacity for Membership Scheme
In February 2018 we introduced our Capacity for Membership Scheme. The Scheme means that our disciplinary processes offer a more flexible and supportive approach for members experiencing significant health issues. The Scheme ensures members facing disciplinary allegations whose health issues are relevant to the allegations are supported and dealt with appropriately, fairly and compassionately, whilst balancing the need to regulate the profession in the public interest.
Even if members aren’t facing disciplinary action there are ways in which we can assist when members are facing a difficult time. Find out more about support for members
Find out more about our Disciplinary and Capacity for Membership Schemes and the essential role they play in assuring public confidence in our profession.