CIA (e)Bulletin/(e)Bulletin de l'ICA
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January 2017

Research Hub with Damien Lapointe Nguyen

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Damien Lapointe Nguyen

1. How long have you worked as an actuary?

I started to work in 2008 after graduating, and completed my FCIA in 2011. So it’s been eight years, five of them as a Fellow.

2. Please describe your current professional title, company, and role.

I am a senior actuarial assistant in research and development at RGA Canada. RGA Canada is the Canadian entity of the Reinsurance Group of America, which is a global life reinsurance company with its main office in Chesterfield, Missouri. About 150 employees work in the Montréal office. I support local research for our lines of business in Canada and act as a liaison with the global research team.

3. What has been your involvement with the CIA since you became a member?

I only started volunteering about two years ago, after I moved from corporate to research. I joined the Research Committee’s (ResCo's) Individual Life Experience Subcommittee and the chair at the time needed a vice-chair who would replace him eventually. To be honest, I did not quite know what the responsibilities were but accepted being his vice-chair which led me to where I am right now.

4. You are currently Chair of the Individual Life Experience Subcommittee; could you describe the subcommittee’s work and your role as Chair?

The subcommittee currently works on experience studies around individual life products. Every year, we revise the mortality study and recently we’ve done a lapse study on lapse-supported products (T100 and UL Level COI [universal life level cost of insurance]). In the next few years, we will probably have to refresh the CIA mortality table. My role as Chair consists of being a liaison with the Research Committee, communicating directly with the researchers who were mandated for the projects, and organizing the subcommittee meetings.

5. Why is this research/work important?

As actuaries, we study markets that are changing over time. Experience studies allow us to refresh very important assumptions when evaluating our block of business, pricing products, or even designing new ones. One could argue that the past may not always be a good predictor of the future, but understanding the recent past is usually a good way to start. The CIA studies can be used on multiple levels: they can be a benchmark for big companies that already have their own study or be essential to smaller companies that do not have enough data to rely entirely on their own experience. In addition, CIA tables act as a common language in the industry; for example, when reinsurers and insurers deal together.

6. What time commitment do you make as subcommittee chair? What type of time commitment must members of the subcommittee make?

It is very difficult to assess the time commitment as it is very variable. Sometimes we have two projects at once, sometimes we have none. For example, when we were in the translation and approval process of the lapse study, the chair could have worked about two-to-three hours per week including the meetings. But when we are in the data-gathering period of the mortality study, then I’d say about 15 minutes per month, just to stay updated and make sure the project is progressing as usual. A non-chair member would put in a little less time as they are not summarizing opinions from members, organizing meetings, or acting as liaison to ResCo.

7. ResCo is going through a process of restructuring. Could you briefly describe how this will change the work of the subcommittee? Will it make it easier or harder for people to volunteer?

Restructuring changes have not yet been approved, but if they are, the subcommittee itself will not exist anymore. Project oversight groups (POGs) will be formed for each project. While the volunteers may be the same, this will be a significant change as we no longer expect subcommittee members to participate on all ongoing projects and complete the three-year term. Instead, we will form multiple task forces with specific mandates. Members will now know exactly what they have volunteered for and when their commitment ends. I believe that this can increase engagement as we are being clear and specific about the role of POG members.

8. What are the benefits of volunteering with the Research Committee?

Being part of the Research Committee or any other subcommittee allows you to network and exchange ideas with people from the industry and from different backgrounds. You also stay updated on current industry research projects and trends. And of course those hours count towards continuing professional development (CPD)!

9. If someone is interested in being part of this subcommittee or a part of the Research Committee, what should they do?

They can reach out to any committee/subcommittee member and they will get referred to the right person. There is always room for new members. If some are hesitant about joining, they are free to ask questions of me or any other members. Most companies have members volunteering for the CIA. Login to the members' site, and navigate to the Research Committee page for the names and e-mail addresses of committee members.

10. Any other thoughts?

The branding and reputation of our profession is largely dependent on the CIA work. This work would not happen without volunteers finding extra hours in their already busy schedules.

Damien Lapointe Nguyen, FCIA, is Chair of the Individual Life Experience Subcommittee. 


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