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An actuary is a statistician who computes property and insurance risks and premiums. The general law of malpractice has been applied to actuaries in a manner similar to that of other professions. The law imposes a duty on actuaries to investigate the accuracy of information supplied to them when a reasonable professional similarly situated would have investigated. In the ecclesiastical law, an actuary is a clerk who registers the acts and constitutions of the convocation.
The enactment of ERISA raises the requirements relating to the actuary's independence and accountability to new levels. It also put actuaries on notice that the giving of general financial advice to a plan may well be enough to be deemed a fiduciary, and thus liable for another fiduciary's acts. In addition, ERISA clearly spells out the transactions that actuaries, as parties-in-interest, may not engage in, and provides stiff enforcement provisions to ensure compliance.
In the United States, there are four major designation-granting professional actuarial organizations: the Society of Actuaries (Society), the Casualty Actuarial Society (Casualty Society), the Conference of Actuaries in Public Practice (Conference), and the American Academy of Actuaries (Academy).