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Interesting Overseas Opportunities Through Actuaries Without Borders

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Lunch break outside of Tirana during the March 2012 AWB Albania project. From left to right: Marsela Vaska, Peter Murdza (AWB volunteer), Ornela Kullolli, and Juliana Dengeri. Marsela and Juliana are the actuaries at the Financial Supervisory Authority of Albania. Ornela is the Financial Services Volunteer Corps country representative for Albania.

By Alan Cooke, FCIA

Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Albania, Vietnam, Romania, Macedonia, Ghana, Tunisia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Kenya, Georgia: what do all these countries have in common? They are all countries where Actuaries Without Borders (AWB) has been approached to provide volunteers for actuarial projects.

What is AWB?

AWB is a section of the International Actuarial Association (IAA), the worldwide association of actuarial associations. Currently the IAA has 64 full members—including the CIA and Society of Actuaries (SOA)—and 26 associate members. The IAA has sections and committees similar to the SOA structure, and the AWB section was established in 2003.

What Does AWB Do?

AWB provides volunteers for projects in all areas of actuarial practice in countries with developing actuarial professions. Typical volunteer activities include speaking at actuarial seminars and courses as well as mentoring younger actuaries and regulators. AWB works closely with non-governmental organizations, government bodies, and local actuarial associations to identify, develop, and manage projects.

Volunteering for AWB Projects

In addition to having the relevant actuarial expertise, AWB volunteers should be open-minded, flexible, practical, and creative, be effective communicators, and possess a good sense of humour and spirit of adventure. The rewards of volunteering include the satisfaction of benefiting others, the intellectual stimulation from working in a different environment, the expansion of personal networks, and increased knowledge of a developing marketplace. AWB volunteers are reimbursed for their travel, food, and lodging costs for a project. You must be an AWB Section member to be eligible to volunteer for an AWB project.

AWB Section Membership

Currently the AWB Section has 282 members in 37 countries. The main countries (by the residency of the member) include the U.S. (65), France (33), Canada (25), UK (24), South Africa (14), and the Netherlands (12). The annual membership fee of CAD $50 may be remitted with your CIA or SOA dues payment or paid directly to AWB.

Examples of Recent and Upcoming AWB Projects

Some examples of past and future AWB projects may give you a better idea of whether you may want to volunteer for a future initiative.

Kazakhstan (September 2009)

AWB provided two lecturers for the Second Actuarial School organized by the local actuarial association. More than 60 attendees participated from nine countries, and the topics covered included:
  • Investment and credit risks of pension funds;
  • Analysis of the liquidity of pension assets;
  • Forecasting of payments for defined contribution plans; and
  • Liability adequacy testing for life and non-life insurance.
Kenya (October–November 2009)

AWB provided two volunteers for an education initiative with three components:
  • A two-week course on enterprise risk management (ERM) and economic capital concepts at the University of Nairobi;
  • A seminar for executives in the financial services industry; and
  • Meetings with Kenyan regulators.
Albania (March 2012)

An AWB volunteer mentored two actuaries working for the Financial Supervisory Authority of Albania (FSA) with a focus on:
  • The role of regulatory actuaries in the U.S.;
  • Problems arising from their current responsibilities with the FSA; and
  • Important property and casualty topics not covered in their previous training, e.g., loss ratio ratemaking and the use of the development triangle as a diagnostic tool.
Nepal (April 2012)

AWB provided one of the three foreign speakers at a two-day actuarial seminar for over 40 attendees on non-life topics organized by Beema Samiti, the Nepalese regulatory authority. Seminar topics included:
  • Basic pricing and data structures;
  • Exposure measures;
  • Components of rates; and
  • Pricing equation.
Subsequent discussions with the regulators included:
  • Insurance regulation in other countries;
  • Creation of an insurance database;
  • Creation of a catastrophe pool; and
  • Expense structures.
Upcoming Seminars

AWB is providing two volunteers for a two-day ERM seminar in Romania and two or three volunteers for a three-day professionalism and pensions course in Azerbaijan.

More information on these and other AWB projects may be found in Peter Murdza’s Session 41 presentation at the May 2012 SOA Symposium.

How to Become More Involved with AWB

Our website provides extensive information on how AWB is organized as well as the benefits of membership. You are also encouraged to contact me or any other AWB Section Committee members if you have questions. Our contact details may be found at the above-mentioned website.

It is an exciting time to be involved in the actuarial profession in the countries that AWB serves so we hope you will join our section.

Alan Cooke, FCIA, is a retired actuary living in Vancouver. He is the current Vice-chair of AWB and also serves as a board member of several non-profit Vancouver organizations. He recently chaired the SOA’s International Section and currently serves on both the Canadian Advisory Group and International Committee of the SOA. He may be reached at


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