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The Countdown Has Begun

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By Micheline Dionne, FCIA
CIA President

It’s amazing how time flies. My mandate comes to an end in just two months. On the one hand, I’m looking forward to taking a vacation, playing some sports and decompressing at the cottage, far from the hustle and bustle of civilization. But on the other hand, I’m worried that I’ll run out of time before I can accomplish what I set out to do.
April in particular has just flown by. Shortly after the latest Board meeting, the CIA delegation attended the biannual working meeting of the International Actuarial Association, held in Sydney, Australia. I was eager to hear about the progress made in developing model standards and the new due process for their adoption. Tremendous strides have been made in developing general standards, thanks in no small part to the efforts of CIA member Jacqueline Friedland. The excellent preliminary version, which I had the chance to read, gives me hope that an exposure draft will be ready in the coming weeks.

However, the difficulty coming to an agreement on the consultation and adoption process is cause for concern. The challenge lies in reassuring all the associations that the process will take account of each party’s realities while allowing progress to be made quickly enough to remain relevant. With the meetings slated to take place every six months, it is now clear that discussions at the Board level must continue between the official meetings if people are uncomfortable with the process put forward. I have therefore suggested that a teleconference be held as soon as possible to discuss the various points of view and to come to a decision quickly, even if it will have to be ratified in six months during the next official meeting.

Like many Canadian actuaries, I am convinced that time is not on our side, and that we must adopt model standards as quickly as possible, before others do it for us. You may recall that I was optimistic at the close of the meeting in Vienna last October. Well, I came back down to earth in Sydney, but I remain hopeful: it will take more consultations than I had thought, and we will need to convey a greater sense of urgency about the situation to some of the more hesitant members.

While in Sydney I took the opportunity to attend the convention held by the Institute of Actuaries of Australia (IAA), to which I had been invited as your representative. The IAA has many things in common with us: its membership is essentially the same size as ours; it is the only association in the country that represents actuaries, and Australia’s actuaries are convinced of the need for a voice in public debates. Needless to say, they are concerned about challenges arising from natural disasters—particularly floods, which affected them very directly this past year. But they are also concerned about the growing costs associated with an aging population, the need to revisit the normal retirement age (and retirement itself, for that matter—an evolving concept that is not as cut and dried as in the past), and the need for pension plan reform. Sound familiar? Interestingly, Australian actuaries are more involved in environmental issues; the ozone layer being thinner over Australia, their sense of urgency is greater. Could this foretell the types of issues that their Canadian counterparts will soon be grappling with, over and above such questions as retirement and health? Overall I saw an opportunity to share ideas as we develop public positions.

Back in Canada, meanwhile, preparations for the federal election are in full swing. The communications team prepared a letter addressed to the political parties on issues affecting actuaries and sent them a questionnaire to ascertain their positions on pension plan reform and health expenditure planning. I invite you to read both documents, available here.

In closing, I would also urge you to read the document on enhancing Associate status in the Institute. By June you will be asked to vote on the recommendations contained in this report, and you now have the opportunity to provide feedback so as to improve the proposal that will be advanced. Don’t miss this chance to make your views known! These recommendations seek to recognize the important contribution of our Associate members by allowing them to use the ACIA designation; they also seek to let them participate more fully in the CIA’s growth and to eventually give them the right to vote, as is the case in several other actuarial associations.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write me at president@actuaires.ca. 
Micheline Dionne, FCIA, is President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

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