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

Ask Me Anything

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By Dave Dickson, FCIA
CIA President

1. What two/three accomplishments are you most proud of?

The accomplishment I am most proud of is the signing of the memorandum of understanding regarding education with the Society of Actuaries (SOA). We started talking to the SOA about this a number of years ago and I worked closely with the SOA President to negotiate the agreement. Many people within the CIA and the SOA worked hard to help make this happen. This agreement will enhance our partnership with the SOA and increase our involvement with developing and administering the exams.

The other one that comes to mind is the initiation of our project to increase member engagement and communications. We are off to a good start and now measuring engagement at a number of levels, and have developed a strategy to improve it.

2. What did you find the most challenging thing about being President?

When I first started it was understanding the role and how to work with our Executive Director Michel Simard and the Board. I learned to work with the Board on making major decisions and then to work with Michel on implementation. There was a fair bit of travel, and juggling that with things at home was a challenge sometimes.

3. Is there a skill or ability you acquired/developed during your time as President? Something that surprised you about yourself?

My tendency is to try to get things done. I had to learn that the Head Office staff is involved with almost everything we do and I learned to work more through Michel and his staff to accomplish initiatives. As President I received a lot of comments about many topics and practised my listening skills to make sure I understood people’s views. Probably what surprised me most was how much I enjoyed being President and being able to represent the CIA to members, staff, regulators, other actuarial associations, etc.

4. Did serving as President change your perspective on being an actuary/contributing to the profession?

Yes—it was probably the most professionally satisfying year I have had. Also, it gave me a deeper understanding of the profession, how it works worldwide, and how the CIA contributes to international initiatives.

5. What was the most unexpected thing about being President?

I attended numerous international events, such as the International Actuarial Association meetings and the North American Actuarial Council meetings. I also attended various actuarial meetings of other organizations. Two things came from that. One is that most actuarial associations are dealing with some of the same issues we are, such as what to do with education, emerging areas of practice, member engagement, and volunteer management. A benefit of these meetings was sharing ideas on these initiatives. The other thing was that I built good relationships with leaders from other organizations.

6. Where do you see the CIA in the next five years?

I see a restructured CIA that is more effective. Also, progress on member engagement, volunteer management, and other initiatives. Regarding volunteers, I see younger members more involved with the CIA. I expect we will make progress in being more involved in emerging areas such as big data and banking. On the continuing education side, there will be more and more webcasts and live streaming of sessions from meetings. We have a great profession and it will only become greater.

7. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the actuarial profession (in Canada and internationally)? How is the CIA positioned to address this issue?

The profession is facing challenges from other practitioners, such as people working in big data. We will always have our core jobs in insurance and pensions but even there we may see more people doing actuarial-type work who are not actuaries. The advantage we have is that we are well respected by regulators and other stakeholders; that should help. The CIA is making progress in getting more involved with big data and maybe areas like banking, and, again, actuaries are well respected within Canada. Our designation is also recognized internationally and we have many members working outside Canada.

8. At the start of your term, one of your goals was better communication and increased member engagement. Describe some of the initiatives undertaken to improve these things and what needs to continue.

On the engagement side, we are measuring engagement at the member level, employer level, and by practice area. We also ran a series of focus groups to get direct input from our members. We have developed a strategy to improve engagement. For example, we recently hosted an event in Toronto (Live Mic with Dave and Sharon) for members to field questions and get their opinions. As a result, we plan to have more of these events. On the communication side, we are implementing a new client management system that will allow us to tailor communications. We also plan to step back and review our communications, website, etc.

9. Do you feel you had a successful year as President and, assuming you did, what led to that success?

Yes, I do. Much was accomplished and groundwork has been established for more success. As mentioned, everything being done involves Head Office staff and they are very dedicated and worked hard to help with our objectives. Our volunteers are the heart and soul of the CIA and also provided excellent support. Our Board did a great job setting direction and making important decisions. It helped a great deal that in early 2015 the Board revised our strategy to provide a blueprint for our direction. I also received good advice and support from our leadership team. The amount of dedication from all levels within the CIA is truly amazing, making it a great organization.

10. Any advice for the new President?

Yes, have fun. It’s a great ride.

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


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