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The Latest from the Committee on International Relations

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By Micheline Dionne, FCIA

The Committee on International Relations (CIR) has made structural improvements to better deal with the challenges of globalization with respect to accounting standards and regulation.

But before we talk structure, let’s have a look at the current situation.

Accounting in Canada is currently governed by international standards. In insurance, international standards still allow for the use of local accounting standards, given the complexity of establishing a common standard. Insurance standards have been on the drawing board for more than a decade, but standards differ so greatly from country to country that arriving at a common approach still represents a real challenge, 10 years into the process. Fortunately, Canada has a leg up on most other countries, and the CIA would like nothing more than to help the rest of the world rise up to this standard. It is in our own interest to do so: because of our size, we must follow the international direction. It would be a shame for this new direction to favour countries with lower standards, because Canadians would demand more from us, and these higher demands would undercut our global competitiveness.

For a greater and more effective presence during international talks, the CIR decided, with the Board’s support, to adopt the tools it needs to monitor developments in more files while increasing its governance.

The CIR will now have four subcommittees.

The first will be geared to CIA participation in the proceedings of the International Actuarial Association (IAA), of which the CIA is a member. We have been an active participant for a number of years, but our involvement will now be concentrated in a separate group reporting to the CIR. Each delegate to the IAA is already chosen through a process of interviews following a call for candidates issued to all CIA members. The delegates’ mandate will be limited to a three-to-five-year term, to take into account the learning curve they will experience when it comes to the habits and customs underlying the international discussions. A report will be required of each of the delegates, who must not only attend and take part in the discussions, but also identify and follow up on the issues for the CIA and the measures to be taken, be it within the CIR or with a council.

A second subcommittee will follow up on accounting and actuarial insurance standards with organizations like the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), and will be charged with making comments on proposals submitted by these groups. A third subcommittee will do likewise for the pension plan and benefits sector. Both subcommittees exist already, having been consolidated within the CIR last year. The new structure will make for a more rigorous process of adopting the submissions made by both subcommittees.

A fourth subcommittee was struck to monitor the work of international regulatory and solvency bodies such as the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). We are currently seeking volunteers for this subcommittee.

As for governance, the CIR will henceforth report on its activities to the Board on a quarterly basis, and its chair will be invited to Board meetings, just like the chairs of the three existing councils. It will also recruit at least two of its members from among the Board members. The CIA President and President-Elect are already invited to all meetings as ex officio members.

I invite you to keep abreast of the CIR’s activities through communications to members, sessions held during the Annual Meeting and webcasts, or—better yet—by becoming volunteers.

Micheline Dionne, FCIA, is Chair of the Committee on International Relations.


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