The Regulation of Actuarial Advice in the UK

Brian Spence

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I have tried a few times recently to explain how actuaries in the UK are governed and regulated.  More complicated than you might think!

In a nutshell the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is the UK’s independent regulator responsible for promoting confidence in corporate governance and reporting. The FRC sets standards for actuarial practice and oversees the regulatory activities of The Actuarial Profession (I will explain later who they are).

The FRC has a number of operating bodies that include The Board for Actuarial Standards (BAS) which sets actuarial standards and the Professional Oversight Board (POB) which among other things provides independent oversight of the regulation of the actuarial profession by the professional actuarial bodies and promotes high quality actuarial work.

The actuarial profession consists of two bodies The Institute of Actuaries and the Faculty of Actuaries which are two chartered professional bodies for UK actuaries, working closely together across the UK as The Actuarial Profession.  Individual actuaries join these bodies as student members and eventually qualify as actuaries (there are some other classes of member that I will not cover here).

The Faculty is based in Scotland and the Institute in England but the qualifications are interchangeable and the exams have been common for many years.

A proposal has been floating round for a while now that will go to a vote this summer that the Institute and Faculty will merge to form the Chartered Actuarial Profession which is a seemingly meaningless move given that the bodies have operated as one in many areas for years but which has generated strong feelings on both sides and the vote is by no means a forgone conclusion.  There is an interesting website operated by Fidelis, The Actuarial Defence Group that strongly opposes the merger.

To make things a little more complicated some actuaries practise outside the UK by virtue of their UK qualification and some including me are members of actuarial professional bodies in other countries (e.g in my case the Society of Actuaries in Ireland) by virtue of their UK qualification.

The Faculty and Institute represent individual actuaries to the outside world and regulate actuaries for the benefit of the outside world by overseeing education and the qualification process of new actuaries, enforcing standards, continuous professional development, research, debate and promotion of actuarial work.

Strangely the activities of consulting actuaries like Spence & Partners are not yet in themselves regulated by the Professional (unless they carry out investment business in which case they can be subject to direct regulation by the Institute of Actuaries or alternatively as in our case be directly regulated by the Financial Services Authority).

And that is before mentioning our clients many of whom like pension scheme trustees are regulated themselves.

Brian Spence

Post by Brian Spence

Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and Society of Actuaries in Ireland, scheme actuary, professional pension trustee