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Recent Activities and Looking Ahead to 2012

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By Marc-André Melançon, FCIA
As I put pen to paper early in 2012, the time seems right to review what the Member Services Council (MSC) .
 After some three years as an MSC member, I took over from my colleague Michel St-Germain last July as council chair. So I would like to highlight some specific things that were accomplished for you, the members of the CIA, in 2011.
Research is a key aspect of the member services covered by MSC. For some years now, the Research Committee, chaired by Marc-André Belzil, has been given a large budget (between $250,000 and $300,000 a year) to carry out studies that are meaningful to CIA members. Here are some developments that took place in 2011:
  • A subcommittee on P&C insurance research was formed. Led by Marc-Olivier Faulkner, this subcommittee already has a research project in the offing, focusing on water-related damages.
  • In the field of individual insurance, a term lapse research project was launched. Ten insurance companies will be providing experiential data for the study.
  • In October 2011, the Group Long-Term Disability Termination Study was published.
  • One of the Research Committee’s objectives is to occasionally work on studies geared more to the public. One example in 2011 was the survey on retirement risks, as perceived by the Canadian population. The Society of Actuaries (SOA) has been conducting a similar study for a number of years.
The Communications Committee, chaired by Stephen Cheng, is another major volunteer enterprise for the CIA. A number of noteworthy challenges are on their radar for 2012. Together with the CIA’s Communications Department, we are in the process of overhauling the magazine Beyond Risk, which we stopped publishing in the middle of last year. The aim of this publication had been to present actuarial issues of the day to an audience comprising not just our own members but policy makers and the non-actuarial business community as well. We still believe in this objective, of course, but we are revisiting the publication formula (types of articles, subjects broached, paper or electronic platform, etc.) to broaden its scope and relevance. The Board feels that the CIA can exercise a real influence on issues that are important to Canadians. The key is making sure that the successor to Beyond Risk meets this objective.
The modes of communication used by our members have changed a great deal in recent years: social media, text messaging and smartphones are prime examples. The CIA is mindful of this important change, as well as the need to pay close attention to what our members expect of the CIA. At its most recent meeting in November 2011, the Board gave the MSC the mandate of analysing the CIA’s communication strategy, from the standpoint of both the message and the approach and tools employed. An MSC subcommittee should submit its recommendations to the Board for the first quarter of 2012. This mandate will be carried out in conjunction with the CIA Secretariat.
Initiatives for Getting Closer to our Members
In the months ahead, we will be launching a new internal survey group, or ISG for short (a temporary name), comprising dozens of members just like you. The group’s role will be to respond to brief surveys conducted by the CIA Secretariat. "Why this group?", you ask. The ISG will respond quickly to various questions on specific subjects, which will help guide the direction the CIA takes in its initiatives and planning. Watch for it in the coming weeks, because we’ll be needing volunteers and your opinion!
Actuarial Networking Group
In light of the new rules for obtaining the designation of CIA Associate, we are forming a networking group to encourage exchanges among university students and other individuals who do not meet the eligibility criteria for membership but who are interested in making contact, or remaining in contact, with the CIA. The logistics for this initiative will be finalized shortly.
Public Positions and Submissions
Over the past year, the CIA responded to numerous requests for comments through the MSC. We believe in the importance of making our voice heard on public issues where actuarial expertise can make a tangible contribution to the debate. Here are just a few examples of issues we covered:
  • Workplace safety and insurance board funding review;
  • Demutualization framework for federal property and casualty insurance companies;
  • Tax rules for pooled registered pension plans (PRPPs);
  • New Brunswick Task Force on Protecting Pensions; and
  • Employment insurance premium rate-setting consultations.
Board Initiative on Strategic Orientation
Over the past few meetings of the CIA Board, an exercise has been launched to define the Institute’s strategic orientation. What are the concrete issues we need to address in order to properly position the CIA over the next five to 10 years and thus remain relevant? From this discussion, two overarching strategic objectives have emerged:
  • Encourage the participation of existing members and attract new members; and
  • Enhance the CIA’s profile with its stakeholders.
The CIA is already carrying out a number of activities aimed at advancing these objectives. To enable the Board to delve deeper into these issues, the MSC has been asked to:
  • Develop several key messages geared to both strategic objectives; and
  • Identify the CIA’s key stakeholders with regard to the second objective.
The Board will revisit this question at its next meeting in March 2012.
Membership Survey
The Final Report on the 2011 Comprehensive Membership Survey was released in December 2011, revealing the opinions of over 1,100 Institute members.

The survey, conducted six years after the last such analysis, was designed to offer an up-to-date snapshot of member attitudes. It includes 17 recommendations on ways that the CIA can better support its members and enhance the profession.
We invite you to read the report, prepared by the Task Force on the Comprehensive Membership Survey (chaired by Jacqueline Friedland).
Encourage Young Actuaries to be More Involved
One of the Institute’s objectives is to see young members more involved in matters concerning our profession. Consequently, we encourage all the councils, committees and task forces to recruit new associates and Fellows and urge more experienced members to become volunteers. The diversity of outlooks and the ongoing recruitment of new volunteers will strengthen the Institute and its continuity. This strategy also dovetails with the major emphasis recently placed on enhancing the value of the Associate status within the Institute.

Lastly, you will be interested to know that the MSC recently reviewed the mandates and activities of its various committees. This annual exercise is aimed at ensuring that volunteers’ efforts lead to concrete actions in direct conformity with the objectives of the CIA membership.

Marc-André Melançon, FCIA, is Chair of the Member Services Council.

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