- Streamlined outcomes – Professionalism, Development and Training and Organisational Culture, each with Sub-outcomes and positive indicators
- Addition of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a Sub-outcome
- Fee increase
- Move to remote assessments
- Introduction of a specialist reviewer
- Change to reaccreditation process
A SQAR Forum is scheduled for 9am (UK time) on 11 January 2022 which will focus on the refreshed scheme.The QAS Manager will provide an update to all SQARs on the changes to the scheme, their rationale and their practical implications.This will be followed by a Q and A session.
An email has been sent to all SQARs containing the link to sign up for this session. If you have not received the link please contact the team.
The Outcomes represent a refresh of the current Outcomes, to address some practical issues that have arisen during the first 6 years of operation, with the substantive addition of an outcome relating to DEI. This also chimes with the feedback from SQARs, where feedback was given which confirmed that the outcomes up until now are generally as they should be.
The Outcomes have been streamlined into three Outcomes instead of the previous five. They are:
- Development and Training, and;
- Organisational Culture.
Each of these have Sub-outcomes and positive indicators underpinning them.
It is intended that accredited organisations are deemed to have met the Outcomes by demonstrating that the Sub-outcomes have been met.
Each of the previous Outcomes are included in the new structure as Sub-outcomes to support the relevant Outcome with the exception of Development and Training which we have kept as an Outcome itself. Sub-outcomes have therefore been created under Development and Training.
The refreshed Outcomes are set out in full in the updated APS QA1 .
The decision to include DEI as a specific Sub-outcome is aligned with the IFoA’s wider DEI strategy.
This chimes with the QAS, in that it is a global scheme with a diverse membership which in particular reflects in its accreditations the tone set by organisations in relation the support given to actuarial employees and to the organisational culture as a whole.
The addition of DEI as an Outcome will contribute to the success of QAS Accredited Organisations. Organisations will foster a culture of engagement and productivity and encourage a working environment where diversity of thought leads to the generation of ideas and fresh approaches to problem solving. Organisations will also be able to serve and understand their customers better and together this will contribute to the attraction and retention of staff.
The QAS Handbook will be restructured in light of the refreshed outcomes but the other content is not substantially amended.
We have created an Addendum to the QAS Handbook covering DEI. This can be found here
- There has been no increase in QAS fees during its 6 years of operation, not even to reflect inflation
- A 20% increase across the board has been applied, which represents an annual increase equivalent of 3%
- Incidental fees (for additional visits, for example) will also increase by the same percentage
- Fees will be reviewed annually going forward, to ensure that they remain appropriate and reflect any changes in costs. This will ensure the sustainability of the QAS in the future.
All routine “visits” (accreditation, monitoring and re-accreditation) will be carried out remotely. This reflects the has arrangements which have been in place, and working effectively, since March 2020. Accredited organisations will continue to complete the Annual Return. This will be supplemented by the addition of a specialist reviewer (see below).
There is the option for an in-person visit if there were circumstances in which this was deemed necessary by the IFoA or QAS Committee. This would usually be at the firm’s expense, unless there were exceptional circumstances to justify this being waived.
From 1 April each year, a specialist reviewer will be appointed. Each reviewer will focus on a different Outcome or Sub-outcome.
The Specialist will be made available to each accredited organisation to provide guidance, external scrutiny of particular policies and procedures and to support continuous improvement. They will also produce a best practice report each year.
This is a response to feedback from SQARs about what they value about their accreditation in terms of how helpful they find both external audit and best practice examples. This appointment complements the processes carried out in relation to re-accreditation assessments as well as accreditations and monitoring visits.
The specialist from 1 April 2022 will focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).
It was originally intended (when the QAS was launched) that re-accreditation would follow the same process as accreditation. We have decided that this is unnecessary, recognising that the IFoA will have significant information about organisations applying for re-accreditation already from their previous 6 years of participation (accreditation assessment, a monitoring visit and Annual Returns).
Re-accreditation visits will therefore have equivalent length of monitoring visits.
The team is working on the following:
- Simplified Annual Return form, for SQARs to complete each year to demonstrate continued compliance with outcomes
- Updated Handbook, including clarification of the role of SQAR (essentially setting out the requirement that the SQAR takes a leadership and liaison role in relation to the QAS)
- An annual update on SQAR activities will be added to the Annual Return
The IFoA team is, as always, available to help and support SQARs who may have questions or comments about any matter relating to their accreditation, the launch of the refreshed Scheme or the IFoA generally, please contact us any time and we will be delighted to assist firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will let SQARs know as soon as additional information, documentation and resources become available.
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