CIA (e)Bulletin/(e)Bulletin de l'ICA
Past Issues |  
May 2017

Live Mic Event – April 5, 2017

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By Dave Dickson, FCIA
CIA President

Why did a large number of CIA members gather at a downtown Toronto restaurant on April 5? Was it the networking opportunity? To hear from CIA leadership about important things going on at the Institute? For the lively question-and-answer period? Because it was the first time the CIA hosted such an event and attendees were curious? Because attendees wanted to express opinions about how the CIA could improve or had questions they wanted answered?

The answer is all of the above, for those who attended the Live Mic event in Toronto.

The event started with brief presentations from myself and President-elect Sharon Giffen. Then the floor was opened to attendees for questions and comments. We discussed many areas, from the University Accreditation Program (UAP) to public positions to Canadian actuaries on the international stage.


One of the first topics raised was regarding the CIA’s research focus. Faizel Alladina, Chair of the Research Executive Committee (REC), attended the event and was able to discuss the committee’s large burden of work and current restructuring to become a more effective group. Over the next 4–6 weeks they will be developing a 2017–2018 research plan that will cover all practice areas.

Public Statements

Some attendees raised concern over public statements and the division they are creating with the membership. We addressed two main questions around this topic: is the push to do these statements from the membership or from the top-down?; and, has there been a cost-benefit analysis done to determine the value of these statements given apparent division among the membership?

While involvement in public statements has taken a top-down approach, it is motivated by the 2015 impression audit where industry, regulators, and policymakers said they would like to see actuaries more involved in policy. Concern from the membership has driven us to define the statements we produce (level 1 or 2). There has been no financial cost-benefit analysis on producing these statements. It’s impossible to keep everyone happy and many times we need to act quickly.

In addition, Sharon explained the difference between level 1 and 2 public statements. Level 1 are responses to inquiries or requests based on pure actuarial focus. Level 2 are an extension of purely actuarial topics and require member input and Board involvement. A working group of experts helps to develop these types of statement. Our goal is to produce two level 2 statements per year and up to 25 level 1 submissions.

University Accreditation Program

We were asked how the UAP is going. The CIA is firmly behind it. We are looking at moving to a slightly different format and changing the system. We will be holding a consultation with employers, students, universities, etc. as part of this process.

Many members expressed concern that although the UAP is accepted by the American Academy of Actuaries (AAA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), it is not accepted by the Society of Actuaries (SOA). One attendee who teaches fourth-year actuarial science said that some of his students don’t understand the direction and importance of being a Canadian actuary. He is worried about division between the SOA and CIA and the SOA not accepting UAP credits. For students, most want no part of UAP; they are just worried about getting a job.

We were also asked what employers think of UAP. I replied that they are neutral. Some employers say it’s a waste of time, while others like it. Most global actuaries are educated by universities. Some recruiters of younger actuaries say they had to write the exams, why shouldn’t everyone else? We must stress that the quality is there, because we audit the courses for which students are receiving credit. 

Practice Education Course (PEC)

There was a question as to why PEC is changing. In the past, the SOA decided to remove country-specific information from exams. The SOA has now put back Canada-specific information and we no longer need an exam at the PEC. Members will still need to attend PEC, which will be more of a presentation, business-type event. Jason Vary, a member of the Board, reminded people to ensure that the students they work with are writing the Canadian version of exams if they want to be an actuary in Canada. For more information on the changes to PEC, see the PEC is Changing web page on the CIA website.

International Strategy and Strategic Plan

There was concern that the strategic plan does not include an international component. Dave Pelletier, Chair of the International Relations Council (IRC), pointed out that we are quite active internationally. One of the attendees commented that “Canada punches above its weight internationally”. There is a lot of Canadian talent in IAA education. He added, “I am amazed at the number of international people looking at my commuted values and stats”.

There was a comment regarding the need to be careful between developing opportunities for FCIAs and recognition. The goal of promoting actuaries can’t be achieved through the International Actuarial Association (IAA). We agreed that there are no better actuaries than Canadian actuaries. Everyone should be very proud to be a Canadian actuary. Our training and mentoring is great.

Increased Member Engagement

These are just some of the areas we discussed. Many of the responses and comments came from attendees rather than leadership. In many situations, attendees were competing to be the next person to respond to a question. Questions, comments, and ideas flowed for over an hour. Numerous people stayed at the restaurant to keep the discussions going after the official end. It was a great opportunity to see old friends and meet new people.

Attendees felt it was a fantastic event and many thought it should be done annually. We are surveying those who attended. In our continuing effort to increase member engagement, we are considering similar events for other parts of Canada in the fall.

Special thanks to the Toronto Actuaries Club for their financial support for the event.

Dave Dickson, FCIA, is President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.


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