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What does painting have to do with being Chair of the EEC?

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By Dave Dickson, FCIA

Before sitting down to write this article I just finished painting a hallway and laundry room in our house. I don’t do a lot of painting but enjoy it when I do. The best part is when it’s all over and I stand back and admire what I’ve done and how well the job turned out. Now the old floor stands out against the freshly-painted ceiling, walls and baseboards and replacing the floor will likely become my next home project.

My time as Chair of the Eligibility and Education Council (EEC) is about half over; in June 2012 I will turn it over to my vice-chair, Jason Vary. My painting project reminds me of my role as Chair of the EEC: we have accomplished a lot but there’s more to be done. I thought it would be a good time to provide an update on some of the initiatives the EEC is working on.

The project that has been going on the longest is our University Accreditation Program (UAP), whereby university students in Canada will be able to obtain credit for the earlier technical exams. This project is under the leadership of Rob Stapleford and the Accreditation Committee. We have made excellent progress and to date 11 Canadian universities are onboard and plan to apply to be part of this program. It will launch in accredited universities in September 2012, and regular updates have been and will continue to be provided to members about this program.

One of our most exciting projects is one involving CIA Associates. About a year ago we noticed a trend that we were having fewer people joining the CIA at the Associate level. Jason Vary led a task force to find out why and to make recommendations to improve the situation. The EEC approved most of the recommendations with a few changes. These modified recommendations were approved by the Board. Jason, who volunteered to lead another task force to implement the recommendations, has written two (e)Bulletin articles about the recommended changes and our plans to implement them so I won’t summarize them here. I feel that once these changes are put into place we will see more CIA Associates joining the Institute and this will only strengthen our organization.

Another interesting project deals with our continuing education. The program content for CIA continuing education was previously looked after by a number of groups and committees spread beyond the EEC. Technology had also enabled education to be more easily provided via webcasts, and maybe other ways in the future. The EEC felt that there might be a better way to provide continuing education to our members. A task force formed under the leadership of Amy Pun made recommendations, the major one being to combine all aspects of continuing education under the new Committee on Continuing Education (CE). Angelita Graham volunteered to head this new committee and great progress has been made. The committee is organized by practice area; each practice area develops an annual education plan which includes sessions at meetings, webcasts and specialty seminars.

We’ve also had a hard look at our meetings and we are improving them to better serve our members. As an example, one of the main reasons members tell us that they attend meetings is for networking opportunities. We made a change at our 2010 annual meeting to accommodate more networking time. Rather than a formal sit-down dinner, a networking cocktail reception with a variety of interesting and delicious food stations was implemented to great success.

The CE committee is planning over 20 webcasts this year. It is also starting to plan the annual meeting in 2015 which will celebrate the CIA’s fiftieth anniversary, with a task force set up under Gary Walters.

Most meetings I’ve attended at the EEC have invariably led to a discussion about the CIA’s Practice Education Course (PEC) in terms of the value that it offers new CIA members, and whether it should be continued. The PEC was originally introduced when the SOA removed all country-specific material from its exams. Since then, country-specific material has started to return. The PEC provides education for some practice areas but does not meet the needs of all aspiring actuaries in Canada. Some groups, such as those considering non-traditional areas of practice like enterprise risk management, feel the PEC does not provide much value to them; additionally, academics say they do not find the PEC useful, and as a result some become members of the SOA but not the CIA. A task force, led by Anne Vincent, is examining the PEC to see if it can be improved and whether a change to the format would be beneficial. One of the task force’s activities is to analyze how well Canadian material is being covered and tested on the SOA exams, and to make some recommendations as a result.

I am also happy to report that the Board of the Global Enterprise Risk Management Designation Recognition Treaty has designated the Institute as an Award Signatory under the Global CERA Treaty. The treaty, signed in November 2010 by 14 actuarial associations from around the world, including the CIA, established the Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA) designation as the globally-recognized enterprise risk management credential. As a party to the treaty, the CIA became eligible to apply to be an Award Signatory. A small committee was formed to work on the Institute’s application, which was submitted to the CERA Global Review Panel in January 2011. Until now, the SOA has been the only organization granting the CERA credential in North America. Members will now be able to have CERA granted by the CIA upon completing the SOA CERA requirements. Once the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) is approved as an Award Signatory, members who have completed the CAS CERA requirements will also be able to have CERA granted by the CIA. The next task is to develop the Institute’s application process. Please watch for more information on this exciting new development.

We also have started other interesting initiatives such as examining the future supply and demand for actuaries in Canada and possibly introducing a mentoring program for Associates and younger actuaries, using experienced members as mentors.

I would like to thank the members of the EEC and recognize the great support that Alicia Rollo, director, education and professional development, provides to the EEC in developing and moving our initiatives forward. Since being added to the Secretariat staff, Alicia has been a valuable part of the EEC and is heavily involved in most of our projects.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me at DicksonDave@hotmail.com.

Dave Dickson, FCIA, is Chair of the Eligibility and Education Council.

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