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Initiatives May Have Global Impact

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By Simon Curtis, FCIA
CIA President

While the actuarial profession is a relatively small one globally, it is characterized by having a significant number of professional associations representing different interests. In fact, the International Actuarial Association (IAA), the umbrella organization for the profession, has 98 members.

A key challenge for the Canadian Institute of Actuaries is to ensure we interact and work with these other organizations most effectively to represent the interests of both the CIA and the profession in Canada as a whole. That interaction currently involves the following important issues, among others: the development of global actuarial standards by the IAA, the potential ramifications of the Society of Actuaries’ (SOA) recently-announced move into providing a general insurance track, and the impact of the introduction of the CIA University Accreditation Program (UAP).

International Standards

The IAA has just adopted its first international standard, a general practice standard. While it is not binding on its members, the association expects that member countries will try and align their own standards with the IAA’s. For the Canadian profession, where we already have very strong, comprehensive standards, how we integrate international standards with ours is a crucial issue for the Actuarial Standards Board (ASB), and an important subject for the CIA.

The good news is that Canadian actuaries have had a significant influence in the development of the initial standard, and are well represented in the IAA standard-setting process—in fact, Dave Pelletier, Chair of our ASB, heads the new IAA standard-setting body. Partly as a result, we do not expect significant changes in Canada from the introduction of this first general standard. At the IAA, the CIA has been a strong supporter of the need for a robust standard-setting capability, largely because we feel that this will position the actuarial profession globally to be a full participant with bodies such as the International Accounting Standards Board in the development of global practice in areas of interest to actuaries.

General Insurance

In North America, the SOA’s move into providing a general insurance track requires the CIA to determine how this track fits into the path to the FCIA designation. In these discussions, the CIA has two goals: to ensure that we continue our strong working relationship with the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) in maintaining an integrated path to CAS/CIA fellowship, and to create a path to SOA/CIA fellowship with the SOA’s general insurance track. Key to these discussions is ensuring the CIA has a strong voice and control over the Canadian-content exams within all fellowship tracks of both organizations—we are hopeful that we will achieve this.

University Accreditation Program

Our UAP has attracted a lot of interest internationally. It moves Canada into the global mainstream of actuarial education practice, as major actuarial associations—with the exception of the SOA—allow for university education as a route to receive credit for some portion of the early technical education. We are very happy that our recent discussions with the CAS have led it to agree to recognize the UAP exam credits for the relevant CAS exams. The SOA, because of a more general philosophical concern about maintaining a fully exam-based system, is not prepared to recognize the UAP at this time. Consequently, there is a possibility that students who follow the FSA exam track but with UAP credits will achieve their FCIA but not the FSA designation. While this is unfortunate, a number of discussions with our peer actuarial organizations have confirmed that the FCIA designation is a very portable and well-recognized designation internationally.

Finally, these bilateral meetings with other organizations allow us to understand how they are responding to many of the same issues we face today: for example, how to influence public policy, how to expand roles for the profession, and how to work effectively with the IAA.

The fact remains that we are all members of the same global profession, and the public at large thinks of us as "actuaries", rather than members of the individual organizations we represent—and the profession both in Canada and abroad is better when we work together in a co-ordinated manner.

Simon Curtis, FCIA, is President of the CIA.

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