CIA (e)Bulletin/(e)Bulletin de l'ICA
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September 2013

We’re on the Right Track!

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By Jacques Lafrance, FCIA

CIA President

My year as President-elect of the Institute was a wonderful time. I learned a lot, in particular more about the various challenges that the actuarial profession has to address. I would like to thank all those who provided me with tremendous support, especially Simon Curtis, our outgoing President; Michel Simard, our Executive Director; and also Jim Christie, our former Immediate Past President. They were very patient with me and took the time to teach me what the management of the Institute entails.

It is with pride and confidence that I begin my term as President of the Institute. Pride because our profession enjoys a solid reputation. The public recognizes and greatly values the talents of Institute members, both in Canada and around the world. And confidence because we can count on a strong Head Office team as well as scores of dedicated volunteers from among our membership.

Still, we are faced with a number of challenges. In the coming months I will have the opportunity to further elaborate on the nature of these challenges and on how the Institute plans to set about meeting them. For now, though, I would just like to identify a few:
  • Improved public understanding of our profession: our profession should be better known, and it is in our interest that this happens. We should take targeted actions to ensure that actuaries’ competencies and abilities are better understood by the public, and especially by policy-makers and potential users of our services.
  • Greater influence on decisions affecting the public interest: building on relevant, high-quality, and timely position papers and research reports, we can help the public take better advantage of actuaries’ skills in making decisions relating to societal issues.
  • Broadening our profession’s fields of practice: the value of actuaries is well-recognized in our traditional areas of practice. However, we must devote more effort and energy to expanding our outreach. In today’s fast-paced world, we must accelerate our efforts to gain more of a foothold in areas that are within reach and in which our skill set can be of benefit, such as the financial sector (in addition to insurance). The future vitality of our profession hangs in the balance.
  • The training we provide to our current and future members must be better geared to the desired competencies: there are significant differences between the competencies required today and those taught a few decades ago. Our training and the competencies that we require of our new members must be reviewed constantly to allow us to offer the public the highest-quality services.
  • Stepping up our efforts to maintain a high level of professionalism on the part of our members: while our profession is not experiencing any serious problems at this time with regard to ethics, we must remain vigilant and promote irreproachable conduct on the part of our members.
  • The standards that we adopt and the training we provide must be adapted to an ever-changing world: international harmonization of the accounting rules used in the financial sector will represent a major challenge in terms of training and developing standards and guidance.
Without neglecting the need for sound governance of the Institute’s activities, the Board recently adopted changes to its mode of operations, aimed at placing greater emphasis on the strategic issues facing Canada’s actuarial profession. I am confident that with these changes, we will be able to make greater strides toward achieving our objectives. Please rest assured, however, that the Institute will not lose sight of the importance of the day-to-day role it must assume in terms of the training, guidance, and services required by our current and future membership.

I see that I am surrounded by passionate people and I am looking forward to working with them in the next year. I am confident that with this passion, we will succeed in helping grow our profession and in making the Institute even more useful to the public and its members. For this to happen, though, we will need you to chip in. I invite you to devote some of your time and energy to Institute activities, regardless of your field of practice and career situation. Your contribution and your ideas will be greatly appreciated.

We’re on the right track. Still, we have to work hard and be vigilant to ensure that this track takes us where we want to go.

Jacques Lafrance, FCIA, is President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.


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