I was on the Committee on Qualifications (‘CoQ’) for many years and chaired it briefly. So, I am familiar with the charge of the CoQ and how it operates. I have been off the CoQ since 2015, so it has been a few years, but not that long ago.
Paul’s assertion that the CoQ regularly discusses confidential information and regularly receives privileged legal advice struck me as inaccurate, to put it charitably. The CoQ is not analogous in any way to the ABCD. The CoQ reviews the Qualification Standards (‘QS’) and proposes updates to the QS as the CoQ deems appropriate. The CoQ solicited input from the actuarial community in 2013 on whether the QS needed to be updated. The CoQ also educates the actuarial community on the QS. This is done through speaking, writing and publishing frequently asked questions. So, far none of that sounds even remotely confidential.
The CoQ also answers questions from individual actuaries that are submitted on the Academy webpage. I believe the Academy staff handles the most routine questions and then has the CoQ look at the move involved questions. The process that was followed when I was on the CoQ was that the substance of the question was communicated by the staff to the CoQ without revealing the name or company of the requestor. So, at no time do I recall being able to connect a question to a particular actuary.
There was a brief period of time when the CoQ was considering a sensitive issue (unrelated to an individual actuary’s question) where I do not remember being told to keep the contents of our calls confidential, but it would not surprise me if we had been. And, I understand that observers should not be privy to such items. But, for the CoQ I believe this is the rare exception – not so frequent that all CoQ meetings should be closed.
Paul next asserts that an observer’s presence would have a chilling effect on the deliberations. This seems to be a recurring assertion of the Academy’s. This committee has a very important charge. Theoretically, all of the members are seasoned professionals who would not be intimated by well-mannered observers. And, theoretically, there is nothing improper or embarrassing about their conversations that needs to be hidden.
Lastly, Paul assets that I personally have an apparent conflict of interest with the CoQ. Does the general counsel of the Academy not know what a conflict of interest is? In order for there to be a conflict of interest, I must owe duties to two or more parties or owe a duty that competes with my personal interest. An observer owes no duty to the committee which they are observing. So, an observer cannot have a conflict of interest with a committee. For example, if an employee from the federal government comes to observe a meeting of the ASB, no one thinks that the government employee owes a duty to the ASB. Everyone understands that the government employee is representing the government.
Overall, this email from Paul seemed disingenuous and was very frustrating. Was it personal bias against me or that they already knew they were going to change the policy? I don’t know. And, I still don’t how the Academy, the profession or public benefits from closed meetings.