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'We Should Be at the Forefront'

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Bill Chinery being interviewed on the Business News Network.

Actuaries have a reputation for being introverted and for keeping a low profile. However, one CIA member has been making regular appearances on national TV—and now he is urging other actuaries to step before the cameras.

Bill Chinery, FCIA, FSA, a Director of the Institute and CEO of BlackRock Canada, is a frequent guest on the Business News Network (BNN), where he comments on important financial issues of the day, such as Fed announcements.

He made his debut appearance around 18 months ago when BlackRock, a regular advertiser on BNN, was approached for somebody to appear on screen. Mr. Chinery said: "Lots of people were hesitant, so I stepped up. I did the show and they liked it a lot, and I came back two months later and then more frequently. Now it's one or two times a month.

"The first time I did it was unnerving, and a bit different, but I had had media training. I think one reason they liked it was I appeared with their in-house economist, who made a comment about the Fed. I said I disagreed, and the Fed would be concerned about inflation and unemployment. As it turned out, I was right on every count and she was wrong.

"Now, a day before I appear I generally get an idea of what they want to talk about: a downgrade in Ontario, for example. I give my opinion, or the firm's opinion, and it's all done in about 15 minutes. Sometimes there is another guest speaker, which is the format I prefer as we can go back and forth and agree or disagree."

As head of BlackRock Canada, Mr. Chinery, who comes from a traditional pension actuary background, leads one of the country's largest institutional investment management companies. He said it is a pleasant surprise when somebody comments about his TV appearances: "I'll do the show, and then I'll be standing in an elevator or in Subway and someone will say, 'Oh, I saw you on BNN.'"

That exposure is something that other actuaries should enjoy, he added. "We are introverted, but we are knowledgeable. I don't mind doing a bit of public speaking when I am confident of the subject matter. We (actuaries) should explain things more, and get more people out there doing that.

"We are a bright, intelligent profession and we have good views on a lot of things. For instance, funding of pension plans is a big issue. We have a lot of expertise in this area, and we should be out there being the spokespeople, explaining why things are happening.

"We should be at the forefront of discussions."


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