The Society of Actuaries has approved a new “policy on responsibilities and conduct” for its board members.
“We found that we needed to address more specifically the conduct of board members because we’re doing more issues that are in the public eye,” says Michael McLaughlin, president of the SOA, Schaumburg, Ill. “The new policy is a logical clarification of what we’ve had in place all along.”
The new board member conduct policy builds on a policy manual that the SOA previously updated every 2 years, McLaughlin says. The policy’s standards address 10 areas of board member responsibility.
Those areas include individual conduct, financial responsibility, conflict of interest, board commitments and relations among board members. Also addressed are confidentiality, public statements, support of board decisions and relations with staff.
In drafting the new code, says McLaughlin, the SOA paid special attention to issues respecting confidentiality and communications among its 28 board members. This was necessary, in part, because the board members need guidance on new communications and media vehicles–such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs–that professionals within the actuarial community are increasingly using to communicate with one another.
Regarding confidentiality, for example, the policy stipulates that “[t]ransparency in governance and having input from SOA membership are both important considerations for the Board. Board members must, however, balance those considerations against their legal and fiduciary obligations to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive or proprietary information obtained as a result of Board service.”
“In addition,” the policy adds, “maintaining the confidentiality of the Board’s deliberations (especially those held in executive session) is essential to having full and frank discussions necessary for effective decision-making. Therefore…a Board member may solicit input from SOA members on matters being considered by the Board, and may informally share with SOA members the actions taken and the issues considered by the Board in reaching its decisions.