Professionalism Defined

 (Following are excerpts from an article that appeared in the August 1992 issue of Actuarial Review. That article itself was excerpted from a luncheon address given by Charles McClenahan at a CAS Course on Professionalism.)

When you become a member of the Casualty Actuarial Society you accept the mantle of professionalism woven of over 75 years of tradition, expertise, and dedication.

You have each demonstrated a high degree of technical competence in completing some of the CAS examinations. And membership in the CAS allows you to put some neat initials after your name, and to call yourself an actuary. But calling yourself an actuary is not enough. You want to be regarded as an actuary by those who have helped to define the meaning of the word. You want to be called an actuary by actuaries.

If you are a true professional you owe a debt to the profession.


If you want recognition as an actuary by your peers you must conduct yourself in such a way that you will enhance and not diminish our professional reputation…

If you are a true professional you owe a debt to the profession — the repayment of which must take precedence over your own self-interest. Now, in general, I believe that your self-interest is totally consistent with the requirements of professionalism. Your economic and psychological well-being will be enhanced by professional conduct and diminished by unprofessional conduct. Nevertheless, there will come a time in your career when you will be tempted to place what you perceive as your self-interest over the dictates of professionalism…

But remember that you did not create the actuarial profession by passing the examinations. It is the ethical decision you make, along with those made by your predecessors, which represent the moral foundation of actuarial professionalism…

Actuaries who use the complexity of our calling as a weapon, who use cleverness to the detriment of honesty, or who knowingly adopt unreasonable assumptions without comment, are doing a disservice to the profession…

Instead let us strive for the ideal.

Let us take complex ideas and make them simple, not the converse.

Let us spend as much time on clarity as we do on precision.

Let us disclose more than we disclaim.

Let us provide more answers than questions.

And, let us be not simply correct, but right as well.