Dropping the actuarial credentials

I feel like this crowd is going to be the first to roast me - but I’ve been thinking a lot about it - and I am dropping my actuarial credentials. Or will be, soon-ish. I happened to pay my fees for this year on the SOA side so I’m stuck with those for now, but I just dropped the ACIA.

I could have finished. In fact I wrote all of the QFI FSA-level exams and was right there, but… the more people that said to me “we’ll do x/we’ll pay y as soon as you get your FSA” the less I wanted to get it.

As soon as… as soon as.

Getting the F was all that mattered (to some people) and yet it wouldn’t change one iota about me as a professional if I made that leap. It would only change the perception of me. And I get it, yes, the perception people have of you is really important in your career - but in this case it was only with respect to the letters I had and not to the total value that I brought.

And boy has that weighed on me throughout the years. I’ve had instances of being awarded on one hand while being put on probation on the other. I’ve been discluded from work events for not having the cutoff number of exams. I’ve been compared to others based solely on what level my credentials were and not at all on what I could do, had done, or the experience I had.

I’m not saying that being an actuary wasn’t a good career choice. I’ve liked it well enough, I learned some things, and it got me where I wanted to be in the end. It is probably yet to bring even more opportunities in the future. But I don’t want to navigate my career based on what will or won’t look good on my resume. I just want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. And right now, I like being a former actuary.

People’s first reaction when I tell them all this is “if your company pays for it, why not keep the credentials”. Sure - I get it - but also, why?

The perception? “Former actuary” actually has a better connotation than “career ASA” when you’re talking to people. The career ASA label is particularly annoying when you’re just sitting on the F and you know it.

For the job cred then? I’m not planning on changing jobs any time soon - and if I was forced to move on I don’t think I would default to traditional actuarial anyway. So, again, why?

Succeeding in an actuarial adjacent but not particularly actuarial position is definitely a major factor in this decision. My recent promotion just officially went through today in fact. And I must say that it was the most satisfying, most liberating, most meaningful promotion I’ve ever had. Because it was all me. I did it, at work, by doing good work - and I did it all without the F.

Anyways, that’s what I’m doing. Kudos to all that are working to become an actuary. Kudos to those that finish, or have already finished - and kudos to those that don’t. You all have value.


Why? Because your company pays for it.
You seem to be arguing that ‘previously credentialled’ > ‘currently credentialled’. I don’t buy it.

Plus, youv’e got what, 1, maybe 2 decades of work left? Dropping your credentials places a needless restriction on your future job opportunities. In fact, my take would be if you’re this close to FSA/FCIA, that you put in the effort and get them behind you for the same reason - your next job or the job after having the F at some point is going to make a difference to your opportunities and income.

FWIW, I was about 2 exam sittings of getting ASA at one point. I’ve lost most of the progress through a bunch of exam changes so I’ve now only got the equivalent of the first two exams. If I had my time back, I’d have finished it, and maintained the credentials (even though I don’t need them). In fact, I may eventually return to the exams to get my ASA, and expect I would maintain the creds even if not working in a traditional role.

So yeah, don’t do this. Do the opposite.

I’d agree with the lobster to the extent of not dropping ASA as it can only help future prospects.

The ACIA . . . unless you’re looking to do Canadian business, I don’t see that being all that important to maintain.

Even if you don’t do “actuarial work” . . . lots of people puts lots of stock in the alphabet soup associated with one’s business name. The small amount of (relative) effort to maintain the credential might pay off down the road with better work opportunities.

In my current industry, that is not true in the least. My newest boss’s boss called me the other day to ask me what my highest level of education was and he said “Just Bachelor’s, right?” and I said yeah - but actuaries care more about the credentials. And this was news to him because my company normally hires data scientists, Phd’s, and other really, really smart people. They really only brought me and other actuaries in because they had no idea who we were or what we did.

Three maybe even.

The way retirement seems to be going in the US, I’m thinking that @Tiffany has 5 decades at the very least.

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More data points for consideration.

  • My husband has been sitting on an expired ACAS for… since before I knew him. He’s doing just fine.
  • My own salary has increased 75% since I left actuarial 2.5 years ago.
  • The two of us combined make more money than I ever thought was possible. When his alimony cuts out I don’t even know what we’re going to do with all of it.
  • It’s really not that hard to get reinstated if I absolutely needed to be.

I don’t need to maintain mine, but I do. The company pays for it. I lost one of my credentials because I didn’t keep up with the continuing education. If I lose the others, so be it. But if not, I’ll keep them and keep giving them some money (via my company). A small homage and connection to where it all began.

As with most things, this should be a cost benefit analysis. The cost to you appears to be (extremely minor) justification to employer to pay for credential, 30 hours of annual CE, emotional baggage tied to many aspects of that part of your career.

What near- to mid-term benefit do you get out of keeping it? I agree the long-term benefit of former actuary vs current actuary is probably relatively the same because you can get your credentials reinstated “in the long term” if absolutely needed.

Sounds to me like you have decided that near- to mid-term benefit of keeping it < cost of keeping it. Sounds like the right decision for you.

I think this has far more to do with the rarity of career ACAS. I’d say that on the P&C side, ACAS won’t do nearly as much as FCAS does.

I’ve seen lots and lots of career ASA’s, however.

Like you said, I think it wouldn’t be too difficult to get ASA reinstated but I have not researched this myself.

For me, the bigger decision is the one to walk away from FSA if you are indeed right on the doorstep. I’d push through and get it. Even though it’s not a requirement for your current job, since you are in an actuarial adjacent type role perhaps an FSA might be helpful at times when working with clients. Even if it’s not, you might find yourself wanting to make a job change down the road where it might be quite valuable. Might be nice to have that option 10 years from now if you want it, for what sounds like not too much effort today.

A lot of us who are career ACAS but still work in insurance shifted out from core actuarial functions into other non-actuarial roles where an actuarial background may be useful.

I spent many years doing pricing/product work with odd products. Now I’m in risk management.

It’s probably accurate to say that ACAS won’t do as much within actuarial silos as FCAS…but we do quite a lot within the companies we work at.

I’d probably maintain my ACAS even if the company didn’t pay for it, just to keep my career options open, unless the price went up significantly. However, I don’t have an MAAA because I see no value for myself from that designation (and my company won’t pay for it).

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i’ve worked with at least one in like every job i’ve had. not super common, but not rare IMO.

@Tiffany the real key to me is this - if you say reinstatement is easy and it actually is easy, then who cares? you don’t need it for your current role. if in the future you need it for some reason you can flip that switch then.

my rambly thoughts - do you find it hard to maintain? do you just want to abandon the need for CE? why does maintaining it seem like something you don’t want to do? long story short, if the reinstatement is easy then do whatver. can’t really hurt you. (if employer pays you in part against the opportunity cost of you leaving for an actuarial role…that would be bad to find out.)

I gave up my EA several years ago. I am still an actuary, so not the same thing, and the window where I can get it reinstated is still open (but not for much longer).

Do I regret it? Not really, but…kind of? I worked my ass off for it, it was incredibly meaningful when I did get it, and by going inactive I am probably closing doors to future opportunities. Plus, pension work is pretty interesting (the work itself is taxing, but the subject matter is interesting). But getting the CE to maintain it is very difficult. I think overall it will be an ok choice for me.

We spend so many years being programmed to believe that the credentials are inherently valuable. But if you don’t see it as valuable, then it isn’t, and that deprogramming is a whole process.


FWIW I also dropped my FCAS when I decided to retire early, but that’s a different matter.

I was once had a job pre-ACAS where they didn’t care if I got credentialed. I skipped a few sittings there as a result despite being 1 exam away from ACAS. When it came time to leave that job, it was hard to get back on the horse and pass exams again.

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Maintainance is low, but I tend to forget to pay on time and get hit with the late fees because no actuarial admin.

CE is not really an issue since I got audited after reinstating my Canadian credentials before and found that my current position is basically a CE generator. If I had to go out of my way to get CE that would be a hard sell.

As someone said - there’s emotional baggage attached to this. I’ve always felt this immense pressure to finish and you can feel it just in this thread. But I’m reevauating where that pressure is coming from and deciding whether it’s coming from the right place. I won’t feel good about celebrating an FSA that I only got because actuaries who like being actuaries told me that being an FSA will make me better off. I tried that route already and then tried something else - the something else seems to be working out better, advancing my career faster, and paying me more.

Does not having actuarial credentials limit my career options - for the direction I’m currently going in it’s a no. I’d be far better off learning new skills than beating on the same old drum. I’ve had instances where it was detrimental to the conversation to be speaking solely w.r.t the actuarial perspective because there are so many other perspectives in insurance that I was missing. Being able to see the bigger picture is way more valued in leadership roles than any credentials are going to be at the end of the day.

So you just have modules left? It may be worth it to lock in the F as insurance against requirement changes, even if you subsequently don’t keep up the designation. And the FAC is a fun time. Obviously ymmv

I was seven years into the exams by the time I got my ACAS. I did study the material for what at the time were the two remaining exams, and even got the dreaded 5 on the investment exam. Eventually I decided I was content with ACAS money and that level of position and responsibility and have no major regrets.
My work has been mostly traditional pricing plus some reserving. I enjoy that foundational work, and the simple truth is I never had any use for what is current exam 6 (annual statement stuff). It was a waste of many hundreds of hours in my life, more or less.
I have a friend in Sunday school who is an orthodontist and went to college for TEN years. When I asked him how much schooling did he REALLY need to do his job, his best guess was FOUR years. I question whether we overeducate.
I wonder if ACAS should involve less education so that people in my situation can sign off on pricing related matters with less barrier to entry. If you aspire to higher things, then you won’t have any problem taking other exams so you can do other things. Having just an ACAS level and an FCAS suggests to me that two there exist two desirable combinations of educational achievement and I wonder if more flexibility would be better - or worse.

I agree keeping the ACIA has no value but it doesn’t even give you credentialing power in Canada: an “actuary “ is defined as FCIA for signing Canadian actuarial valuations or insurance company statements.

ASA doesn’t have credential power either. However it does show you have an actuarial education. Like Tiffany, my wife was an ASA who stopped writing actuarial exams very close to fellowship but she did so because she just didn’t want to do actuarial work anymore.

Exams suck