Industry ABCs: The Alphabet Soup of the Actuarial Profession

CPCU, MAAA, EA, CAS and even ABCD… The actuarial field has a lexicon of its own. As a student, it can be overwhelming trying to decipher the meaning of various terminologies and their shorthand through acronyms.

Let’s start at the very beginning with acronyms of organizations and credentials you may encounter as you embark on your promising career.

ABCD – Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline. Provides guidance to any actuary seeking assistance on a matter of professional conduct and hears complaints about possible violations of the actuarial Codes of Professional Conduct. It is important to note, however, that in instances of alleged conduct violations, the ABCD cannot itself impose discipline but can only recommend disciplinary action. Actuaries struggling with a matter of professional conduct are encouraged to contact the ABCD.  

ASB – Actuarial Standards Board. Responsible for establishing, improving, and communicating the Actuarial Standards of Practice (ASOPs). The ASOPs identify what the actuary should consider, document, and disclose when performing an actuarial assignment. There are over 40 ASOPs covering everything from trending procedures in property and casualty insurance to actuarial communications.  

ASPPA – American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries. An organization for career retirement plan professionals. It offers various exam-based professional certifications and educates both the public and its members on retirement and pension-related topics.  

ASTIN – Actuarial Studies In Non-Life Insurance. A section of the IAA that seeks to promote actuarial research and to further the mathematical foundation in non-life insurance. It publishes the ASTIN Bulletin, which is a journal devoted to the mathematics of insurance, particularly on topics related to general (non-life) insurance.  

CAS – Casualty Actuarial Society. An organization dedicated to the advancement of actuarial science, particularly as it applies to property and casualty insurance. It administers actuarial exams, supports research and publication, and holds conferences and meetings on various topics of relevance to property and casualty actuaries. Based on educational achievements, it awards the Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society (ACAS), Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (FCAS), and Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA) designations.

CCA – Conference of Consulting Actuaries. A professional society of actuaries engaged in consulting (as opposed to being employed by an insurance company) in the U.S. and Canada. The group’s mission is to advance the quality of consulting practice, support the needs of consulting actuaries, and represent the interests of consulting actuaries. Based on educational advancement in other actuarial organizations (like the CAS) and on work experience, it awards the designations Associate of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) and Fellow of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries (FCA).  

CERA – Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst. A recently established credential for expertise in the area of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM).

CIA – Canadian Institute of Actuaries. As the national organization of the actuarial profession in Canada, it is essentially the Canadian counterpart to the American Academy of Actuaries. Based on educational advancement in organizations like the CAS, the CIA awards the designation Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA).  

CPCU – Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter. A professional designation that requires passage of exams covering a broad array of topics in property-casualty insurance and risk management. Though this is not an actuarial designation, many actuaries are CPCU holders as well. Since CPCU designees work in virtually all areas of the insurance industry, you will likely encounter them often throughout your career. (

EA – Enrolled Actuary. An actuary who has been licensed by federal government to perform pension plan analyses that are required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974.     

IAA – International Actuarial Association. A worldwide association of actuarial organizations that seeks to represent the actuarial profession and promote its reputation internationally. The Academy, ASPPA, CAS, CCA, and CIA are all member organizations of the IAA.  

MAAA – Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. The Academy represents actuaries in all practice areas within the United States, and generally serves as the profession’s voice on public policy and professionalism issues. The ABCD and the ASB (described above) are both housed within the Academy.

SOA – Society of Actuaries. Based on educational achievements, it awards the Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA), Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA), and Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA) designations.  

The content for this webpage was drawn from an article originally published in the March 2011 issue of the CAS newsletter, Future Fellows.