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The general duty to act honestly and with integrity

3.1 Members are expected to demonstrate high standards of behaviour. This is reflected in the first principle of the Code, which states:

Members must act honestly and with integrity.”

Acting in an ethical and professional manner

3.2 Integrity is generally accepted as a fundamental requirement to act in an ethical and professional manner.  If someone has integrity, their actions are consistent with their beliefs, both stated and real.  They will not claim to have a certain belief and then act in a way that contradicts this, whether or not they are likely to be caught out.

Being honest and fair

3.3 Acting with integrity in a professional setting will generally mean being straightforward and honest in your professional and business relationships and dealing fairly with those around you. This expectation extends to situations in which you are promoting your business services.

Respecting others

3.4 The first amplification under the Integrity principle provides that:Members must show respect for others in the way they conduct themselves.”  The scope of this requirement extends not only to users, but to anyone with whom Members interact, including colleagues and the general public.  Amongst other things, showing ‘respect for others’ includes not deceiving or manipulating others, not taking credit for others’ work and not spreading false or defamatory information about people.  More subtly, showing respect for people includes such things as avoiding the temptation to publicly ridicule others’ ideas and giving people a fair hearing. Often, a lack of respect can be demonstrated by non-verbal communication as much as by a person’s choice of words, their tone of voice or the volume with which they speak.

3.5 In determining whether a course of conduct demonstrates a lack of respect, it is important to consider how you would feel if the behaviour in question were being directed at you instead. It is also worth remembering that the same behaviour may have a different impact on different people; what one person may find offensive may not have any effect on another. Often, people of different social and cultural backgrounds can perceive the same conduct and behaviour very differently.

Voicing opinions

3.6 Showing respect for others does not mean that Members cannot voice their opinions or disagree with others where they hold an opposing point of view. Legitimate challenge and constructive comment are to be encouraged both in a professional setting as well as in other contexts. Nor is the Code intended to impinge upon Members’ rights to free speech or to express their religious and political views. It is expected however that where disagreements do arise, Members will act with courtesy, recognising the rights of others to hold and express different ideas and opinions from them.

3.7 The IFoA promotes equality and diversity and the development of an inclusive profession that incorporates people from a range of backgrounds. Members are encouraged to behave in a way that recognises and respects diversity and different cultures.

Duties outside the actuarial profession

3.8 The Code applies to all Members’ other conduct if that conduct could reasonably be considered to reflect upon the profession”.  This means that conduct outside of a Member’s actuarial professional life that demonstrates a lack of respect towards others will be caught by the Code, but only to the extent that it may have an impact upon the reputation of the actuarial profession as a whole. In a personal context therefore, not all behaviour that demonstrates a lack of respect will be caught by the Code.  Members are expected to use reasonable judgment in determining what behaviour is appropriate.


The duty of confidentiality

3.9 Users and the general public are entitled to expect that sensitive information will not be misused, treated carelessly or, other than in exceptional circumstances, be shared without permission.  This is reflected in the second amplification under the Integrity principle which provides that: Members should respect confidentiality.”

3.10 Confidential information to which a Member may have access includes personal data about third parties such as insurance or pension policy holders.  It may also include communications from clients, such as emails, and some commercially sensitive information relating to businesses with which the Member interacts.  Sometimes confidential information will not be labelled as such, and Members will need to exercise judgment as to whether there is a reasonable expectation that information should be considered confidential. 

3.11 Information which is already lawfully in the public domain is not ordinarily confidential. 

When confidential information may rightly be disclosed

3.12 The duty of confidentiality, while important, is not absolute. Information can be disclosed in certain circumstances where disclosure is required by law, or is permitted by law, and can be justified in the public interest.  The IFoA recognises that certain situations will arise in which legal or other requirements will override a Member’s duty of confidentiality.  That is why the specific amplification dealing with confidentiality has been drafted as a ‘should’ provision, rather than a ‘must’.  Indeed, the ‘Speaking up’ principle of the Code may require confidential information to be disclosed under certain circumstances – in such situations Members need to carefully consider the extent and manner of disclosure necessary and avoid disclosing more than is necessary to fulfil their obligations.

3.13 A number of statutes empower government and other bodies, for example HM Revenue and Customs in the UK, to require any person to disclose documents and/or information.  This might be, for example, in situations where confidential information indicates criminal wrongdoing.  In the absence of a user’s specific consent, it would be prudent to check under which statutory power the information is being sought and consider the relevant provisions carefully before proceeding with the disclosure.

3.14 Disclosures which are permitted by law, and justified in the public interest, might include situations in which criminal or unethical conduct is indicated, but where there is no legal requirement to disclose, or where disclosure is necessary for the purposes of reporting a serious impropriety to a relevant regulatory body. 


Guidance on duty of confidentiality in relation to duty of disclosure and avoidance of conflicts of interest

3.15 Further guidance on the interaction between the duties of confidentiality and disclosure is set out in Section 7 of this Guidance.  Guidance on the duty of confidentiality, as it relates to conflicts of interest, can be found in Section 5 of this Guidance. 

The duty of confidentiality is a difficult area; therefore, you might want to take legal advice on these issues.

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Events calendar

  • The Growth Mindset for Actuaries

    13 October 2021 - 8 December 2021

    Fully booked.

    This practical course is aimed at actuaries at any stage of their career who want to develop their own growth mindset and apply it to their work setting and personal or professional lifelong learning. The content of the course builds on the lecture given by Dr Helen Wright on Growth Mindset as part of the President’s 2021 Lecture series, and will be delivered over a period of 2 months, from mid-October to early December.

  • Spaces available

    The role of actuaries within the health sector varies considerably from one country to another, due to differences in the local evolution of health systems and the funding models for health services. 

  • Spaces available

    This paper outlines key frameworks for reserving validation and techniques employed. Many companies lack an embedded reserve validation framework and validation is viewed as piecemeal and unstructured.  The paper outlines a case study demonstrating how successful machine learning techniques will become and then goes on to discuss implications.  The paper explores common validation approaches and their role in enhancing governance and confidence.

  • Spaces available

    Content will be aimed at all actuaries looking to understand the issues surrounding mental health in insurance and in particular those looking to ensure products and processes widen access for, and are most useful to, those experiencing periods of poor mental health.
     

  • Spaces available

    The IFoA Policy Briefing 'Can we help consumers avoid running out of money in retirement' examined the benefits of blending a lifetime annuity with income drawdown. Panellists, including providers and advisers, will look at the market practicalities of taking the actuarial theory through into the core advice propositions used by IFAs and Fund Managers. They will share a number of practical issues such as investment consequences before and after retirement and the level of annuity that is appropriate and answer questions from the audience.

  • Speech from the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey

    Lincoln's Inn The Treasury Office, London WC2A 3TL
    1 December 2021

    The IFoA is pleased to be hosting the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, to deliver a speech on delivering policyholder protection in insurance regulation.

    The speech will be presented to an in-person audience, and simultaneously live-streamed, at 14.00 on Wednesday 1st December.

  • The Many Faces of Bias

    2 December 2021

    Spaces available

    This webinar looks at the many types of biases, both conscious and unconscious and the impacts they can have in the workplace.  Raising our own awareness and understanding of the issues can help us avoid the pitfalls of unconscious bias in particular.  We’ve all heard the phrase ‘office banter’ but are we sure that’s how those on the receiving end perceive it and is it ok to go along with it?

  • Spaces available

    Actuaries need to take action now - but how?  With a focus on climate change, this session will provide informed insight to enable you to improve your knowledge and understanding of the issues involved, demonstrate how it will impact advice to your clients, and highlight prospective opportunities for actuaries within pensions and wider fields.

  • Spaces available

    Pension scams have become more prevalent as a result of the pandemic, and Trustees have increased responsibilities to protect members, which means that actuaries need to be in a position to provide advice in this area. Our specialist panel will include a professional trustee, an IFA and head administrator, two of whom are members of PASA.

  • Spaces available

    The covid-19 pandemic creates a challenge for actuaries analysing experience data that includes mortality shocks.  To address this we present a methodology for modelling portfolio mortality data that offers local flexibility in the time dimension.  The approach permits the identification of seasonal variation, mortality shocks and late-reported deaths.  The methodology also allows actuaries to measure portfolio-specific mortality improvements.  Results are given for a mature annuity portfolio in the UK

  • Spaces available

    In this webinar, the authors of the 2021 Brian Hey prize winning paper present a new deep learning model called the LocalGLMnet. While deep learning models lead to very competitive regression models, often outperforming classical statistical models such as generalized linear models, the disadvantage is that deep learning solutions are difficult to interpret and explain, and variable selection is not easily possible.

  • Spaces available

    The dominant underwriting approach is a mix between rule-based engines and traditional underwriting. Applications are first assessed by automated rule-based engines which typically are capable of processing only simple applications. The remaining applications are reviewed by underwriters or referred to the reinsurers. This research aims to construct predictive machine learning models for complicated applications that cannot be processed by rule-based engines.

  • Spaces available

    With the Pension Schemes Act 2021 requiring a long term strategy from Trustees and sponsors, choosing a pensions endgame strategy has become even more critical. However, it is important that the endgame options available are adequately assessed before choosing one. With an ever-increasing array of creative and innovative options available, this decision may not be straightforward.