The Real Code

 Ruark Code of Conduct

As part of the continuing education that is required for me to maintain my US actuarial credentials, I typically spend about an hour each year meditating on the

Code of Professional Conduct.  Unlike most of the regulations, practice standards, guidance notes, memoranda, presentations, and work products with which we so often must grapple in our daily work, the Code is concise, easy to read, and vital.  And therein lies its power to clearly define what it means to be an actuary, and hence, what is not an actuary.

The Code has been effective since January 2001, replacing prior versions which dated back many years.  Yet like returning to the great literary classics, subsequent readings of the Code continue to offer new insights into timeless challenges, and received wisdom to apply to new challenges.  For this, actuaries, their clients and employers, and the public owe the committee of authors an enduring debt of gratitude.

With actuarial work increasingly reliant on, and sometimes competing against, computer-based algorithms, artificial intelligence, and myriad techy buzzwords (including at my own company!), I think that the Code is more valuable than ever.  But don’t take my word for it.  It’s only four pages — read it for yourself.  Read it for your clients and employers.  Read it for the public.  Then ask yourself — am I living up to this high standard of conduct?  Can algorithms, computers, or other merely math-savvy people replace this professionalism?

I used to read the Code with a rote objective of fulfilling my continuing education requirements.  Now I know better.  I read and reread it as the animating spirit of our profession, so that no matter what my work is, or what technological tools (dare I say computer code) and professional judgment I use to carry it out, I am ever mindful of the high standards I must maintain to be an actuary and the importance of my work to the greater good.