Changes to IFoA Professional Skills Training (PST)

Changes to IFoA’s Professional Skills Training (PST) OPAT

IFoA Professional Skills Training (PST) is an essential training conducted by IFoA that helps Actuarial professionals and students to remain up-to-date with ever-changing professional requirements. 

It is a part of IFoA’s Continuing Professional Development Scheme (CPD Scheme), similar to PPD. It should not be seen as an obligation but rather as a medium to staying up-to-date and competent in the ever-changing future.

Recently, IFoA Professional Skills Training has been changed, which would be implemented from 1st July 2020. These changes are done to ensure a more flexible learning approach and to deliver the appropriate professional training to all members that fit around members’ busy working lives.

To fully understand those changes, first, you need to understand the old PST regime. We have tried our best to consolidate over 50 pages of information available on IFoA website in a very concise and simple manner, in case if you have any further doubts, feel free to reach out to either of us. This article is written by Arpit Surana and Rishabh Surana.

The Article is divided into 3 parts, make sure you read each and every part, as then only you will be able to fully understand it.

  1. Old PST regime
  2. New PST regime
  3. Takeaways and FAQs

Old PST Regime 

Old Professional Skills Training (PST) regime falls into three stages:

  • Stage 1: Online Professional Awareness Test (OPAT)
  • Stage 2: Professional Skills Course (PSC)
  • Stage 3: Professional Skills for Experienced Members

Stage 1: Online Professional Awareness Test (OPAT)

OPAT is a free compulsory exam for those who joined IFoA post 1st March 2012, which aims to develop your ability to exercise judgement in compromising ethical situations. Its mandate to clear OPAT before applying for CB3 – Business Management exam.

Once you have enrolled for OPAT, an exam link would be provided for 90 days. You can appear for the exam as per your convenience within those 90 days. Once cleared, it won’t lose its validity hence you can give CB3 anytime..

During the online test, you will be shown some scenarios and you need to answer them by applying your professional judgement. It consists of five questions, each covering one of the five core principles of the Actuaries’ Code and each question will have three parts.

You should read Actuaries’ Code, (a 4-page document mentioning basic actuaries code of conduct) before applying and it is advised to have a copy of it while you take the exam.

OPAT is a 90 minutes exam which usually takes around 10-15 minutes to clear,  just follow the instructions carefully and you can surely pass with flying colors. Even if you fail, you can reapply before 1st July 2020 without any additional costs but you will need to wait 4 weeks each before re-applying.

To register for OPAT, fill this form online and mail it to [email protected] along with your ARN number. It usually takes 3-4 days to get approval and get the link of the exam.

Stage 2: Professional Skills Course (PSC)

This is a free course which prepares you for the increasing levels of responsibility placed upon you in your career. It helps you to develop skills that can help  you to prevent ethical dilemmas, exercise appropriate judgement and take decisions to resolve them. It consists of a number of web-based modules over a period of three weeks, which takes approximately 8-10 hours to complete.

Who can sit for PSC?

  • If you are a student member who joined on or after the 1 July 2006 you will need to complete the course between the 4th and 6th anniversaries of your admission, or within a year of qualifying as a Fellow, whichever comes first.
  • If you wish to become an Associate you will need to complete the course, in addition to passing the relevant exams, before you can transfer.

To book the exam, go to your login> My Account> My Exams, there you will find the option to book your exam. Next exam booking would be available on  6th July 2020. Please be aware that if you cancel or change your course booking a £150.00 administration fee will be charged.

Stage 3: Professional Skills for Experienced Members

It is an annual requirement to complete two hours of PST which may be acquired by attending events, by completing an on-line activity or completing both. IFoA develops new free online content annually which includes video case studies and other resources which can be accessed under Online Learning Resources. It applies to only those who have joined IFoA after 1 July 2006 and who have completed Stage 2 PSC. Kindly visit IFoA website for more details.

New IFoA Professional Skills Training Regime

IFoA has made changes to the Professional Skill Training (PST) from 1st July 2020. In order for these new courses to be sustainable, IFoA would be charging a fee for the first 2 stages.

CourseFull rateReduced rate
Stage 1 Professionalism Course£75.00£55.00
Stage 2 Online Professionalism Course£150.00£105.00

New Stages will be as follows:

  • Stage 1: Professionalism Course
  • Stage 2: Online Professionalism Course
  • Stage 3: Professional Skills for Experienced Members (no changes)

Stage 1: Professionalism Course

The current Stage 1: OPAT would be replaced with a 4-part modular e-learning course. It would cover material included in the previous Stage 2 Professional Skills Course (PSC). It can be accessed at any time of your choice, but must be completed before you can apply to sit CB3 Business Management Exam. 

The online course should take around 3 to 4 hours to complete. Computer based assessments will be included. Once you have cleared New Stage 1 Professionalism Course, then only you can move to the next stage. Further details about this are yet to be published on the website.

Stage 2: Online Professionalism Course

This would replace the current Stage 2 Professional Skills Course (PSC) with a new Stage 2 Online Professionalism Course.   

The course will build on the knowledge acquired in Stage 1, with a format based around discussion of case studies with input from specialist ethicist and actuary facilitators. focussing the course content on developing advanced ethical reasoning skills with expert input. The new course case studies will be more accessible and globally relevant.

It would take place over a 1-week period, with pre-reading of case studies to be undertaken and online contributions to be made in advance of the course beginning. The course must be completed, either before you qualify as an Associate, or within 6 years of joining the IFoA. Further details about this are yet to be published on the website.

Stage 3: Professional Skills for Experienced Members

This is the same as the old regime, scroll up to know more about this.

Takeaways and FAQs

This section is very important and would remove any kind of doubts/questions in your mind. This would also give you a guide on the best possible steps that you take now. If you have any questions, please contact [email protected] or visit Changes to IFoA Professional Skills Training

Members who joined IFOA before 1st July 2020

1. You are a newly qualified Fellow who joined as Student members before 1 January 2019 and not completed the old Stage 2, or 

You have cleared OPAT only and you are currently in 4th-6th year of your membership, or

You have cleared for only old Stage1: OPAT

Only in the first circumstance, you are required to complete the New/Old Stage 2 Professional Skills course within one year of transferring to Fellowship.

In any of the above 3 scenarios, you need to clear Old/New State2 requirements. You can try to enrol yourself in the old Stage 2 Online Professional Skills Course (PST) begining on 6 July 2020. This enrollment is based on a first come first served basis before the new regime is implemented. Enrolling in it on 6th July would help you save a few bucks as New State 2 is a paid course. Scroll up and check Stage 2: Professional Skills Course (PSC) portion of this article of more details.

2. You have cleared both Stage1 and Stage2 under the old regime – Then these changes are not applicable to you. You just need to meet the Stage 3 requirements annually.

3. You haven’t cleared any exam in old regime (& you are reading this article before 1st July 2020)

If you would like to take the current OPAT you must book your test by 29th May 2020. No bookings for OPAT can be made after this date.

Should you decide to apply to sit the OPAT between now and 29th May 2020, you will have up to 30th June 2020 to take the test after which the access code issued to you will expire.

It’s highly recommended to clear OPAT before 1st July 2020. Otherwise you need to appear for New Stage 1 Professionalism Course (which is paid course). Enrolling before 29th May 2020, would help you save a few bucks.

OPAT Exam is simple, just read Actuaries Code of Conduct from here or have a copy of it while giving and you’ll pass with flying colours. Once you clear OPAT, you can give CB3 at any time. For more details, kindly scroll up to Stage 1: Professionalism Course section of the article.

4. You haven’t cleared any exams in the old regime (& you are reading this article after 1st July 2020): Then you just need to follow New IFOA Professional Skills Training (PST) regime and there is no way you could follow the old regime.

We hope you’ll find this article helpful; we would love to connect with you and hear your views, please contact us through LinkedIn. We would really appreciate it.

This article has been written Arpit Surana and Rishabh Surana.

Also read: How to Enroll for OPAT Exam

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Changes to IFoA Professional Skills Training (PST)
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I'm an Actuarial Science student having cleared CT1,CT2,CT3,CT5,CS2 & CM2 exams. ➡️Actuarial Trainee- Bharti Axa Life Insurance (Oct 2019 - Present) ➡️Pricing Intern – Bharti Axa Life Insurance (Dec 2018 – Feb 2019) ➡️ Pursuing B.Com from H.R.College of Commerce & Economics ➡️Actuarial Blogger - The Actuarial Club ➡️Research Assistant- Institute of Actuarial & Quantitative Studies ➡️Volunteer at IFOA 400 Club I believe in learning and improving myself everyday. I don't work hard to achieve things instead I do it because I love to! I aim to become an actuarial fellow and use my analytical skills for the greater good someday.

    2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Mohit Dhanjani
    September 15, 2020
    Reply

    How to proceed with stage 2? Do I have to apply for stage 2 first and then would be provided with required study material(case studies) or they are there on IFOA website and I need to do is study before hand and then apply for stage 2?

    • The Actuarial Club
      September 16, 2020
      Reply

      You don’t need to study for IFoA PST beforehand. It’ll be completely on IFoA website involving forum discussions. Once you register, you’ll receive a mail with number of details on how to go ahead and a complete timetable to follow for Stage 2. There’s no preparation to be done as is.

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