The American Academy of Actuaries made the recent bylaw amendment a referendum on the direction of the Academy. The Board supported Bylaw Amendment 1 and opposed Bylaw Amendment 2. Neither proposed amendment passed. Where do we go from here?
Bylaw Amendment 1
In summary, Bylaw Amendment 1 would have made it almost impossible for members to initiate bylaw amendments and increased the Board’s ability to make bylaw amendments without a membership vote.
The defeat of Bylaw Amendment 1 is incredibly significant. The Academy framed the vote as a validation of the current Academy’s direction. Given all the advantages that the Academy had in this election, only receiving 51.08% of the votes cast equates to a vote of no-confidence in current Academy leadership. Over 3,000 MAAAs (roughly 15% of the total MAAAs) voted against the Academy Board’s recommendation.
There should be consequences due to the failure of Bylaw Amendment 1. The members of the Academy have spoken, and the Board must listen. We all agree that the Academy’s public policy and standard setting should be objective. Academy members are just not convinced that handing over even more power to the Board is the way to best achieve that goal. The Academy Board must form a committee or task force to solicit member feedback. However, the situation may require much more than member feedback such as changes in Academy leadership, Academy governance and/or Academy staff changes.
The Sunshine Amendment (Bylaw Amendment 2)
The Sunshine Amendment would have restored transparency to standard and qualification setting. It is disappointing that it did not pass, but it was always a long, long shot. In many ways the effort was a huge success. First, we never were able to contact all Academy members, but a high percentage of those we did reach were receptive to the message. Second, all the attention paid to the Sunshine Amendment probably helped ensure that the Academy’s new meeting policy was not administered in the draconian way it was written. Third, the Sunshine Amendment got the Academy leadership to articulate attitudes that were lurking just below the surface. For example, many were shocked by the past-President letter, but now their views are out in the open. Lastly, sometimes you just have to fight the good fight for your profession even if is very likely that you are going to down in flames.
I have no plans to try to get another vote on the Sunshine Amendment. For that to be worthwhile, we would need a way to reach a lot more MAAAs. It is really hard to win a vote when you cannot reach all of the voters, but the other side can. If I were to try again, I would seek input on revising the Sunshine Amendment sections about committee meetings and executive session. I received insightful feedback on these sections, but once we started collecting signatures it was impractical to make the changes.
Thanks to all supporters! I really enjoyed getting acquainted with so many actuaries that otherwise I never would have met.
Make Nice with the Academy
Since neither side prevailed, it would be rational to ask “Can’t the two sides come together for the good of the Academy and profession?” I have been willing to discuss the issues in a productive manner since the beginning. On some level, I can’t believe these issues ever escalated this far. The Academy turned down every offer we made to meet. In fact, they were rather ugly about it. And, if you read the past President letter, it makes sense. The Academy leadership believes they know best and they should not be bothered by pesky members. So, I am not going to sit by my phone or email waiting for Academy leadership to reach out.
Resign from the Academy?
I think this vote has left a lot of us thinking about whether to continue as Academy members. I am considering whether or not to resign from the Academy. I would encourage people not to rush to a decision. Maybe the Academy will surprise us in the next couple of months. Maybe the Academy will remember it needs its members to succeed and that we all joined to support the Academy mission. It does not seem likely, but no harm is done by waiting until January to make a decision.