Former President ready for international challenges

Encouraging the development of actuarial science around the world. Promoting the role of actuaries with supranational organisations. The integration within the global profession of future actuarial associations, large and small, the China Actuarial Association likely being the next one. These are just some of the challenges facing the International Actuarial Association (IAA) and its new Secretary General, Jean-Louis Massé.
Following his election by the IAA Council in Vienna last October, next month M. Massé, pictured right—a former President of the Canadian Institute of Actuar ies and the IAA—will succeed Yves Guérard and begin a four-year mandate at the IAA, the international association of 82 actuarial associations, with its 25-plus committees and subcommittees and seven sections open to all actuaries interested in specific top ics.  

He said: "Now I realize how big the shoes of my predecessor were. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by a lot of good people.

"We have a new Executive Committee that meets every month, and its members take an issue close to their hearts and drive it, which makes things move faster than ever. So the IAA Secretariat will have to go through changes to keep up with the accelerated speed of the profession, and it will have to grow more."

M. Massé, FCIA, FSA, FIAI, Hon FFA, a 63-year-old retiree from Montréal, has enjoyed a career which included working for CP Rail, Standard Life and Université du Québec à Montréal, plus volunteering for the SOA, CIA and IAA. As an officer of the IAA, he sees his new role as being "a link between the institutional memory of the Secretariat and the new visions brought by the new president every year, the president-elect and the immediate past president, i.e., the other officers", as the association tackles a wide range of important issues affecting the world’s actuaries.

"In Canada and North America, the growth of non-traditional work will be a challenge, and the Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst designation is our solution. It has a lot of potential, and can show that actuaries can be useful for non-traditional employers. For many years now, Wall Street has discovered what graduates from actuarial universities can do for them. Can Main Street be next? I am optimistic.

"CERA is not yet so big worldwide, but it is growing in those countries where the profession is well established. In most countries, the actuarial profession is very small, so we are showing them what actuaries can do in traditional areas. We are working to broaden knowledge of the profession worldwide and develop the small associations. It is good for the profession but, more importantly, it enhances the financial security of the general public.

"China wants to join us, and it has thousands of students, bright and young—grey-haired actuaries are few but in demand. Does anyone know how to grow old fast? The same is true in Russia, where the government embodied the role of Appointed Actuary in the general insurance law only to realize that there were not enough actuaries in the country to fill the jobs. India is also growing and mentors are in demand there too. Those are places I personally visited and heard their pleas for help, but they are not the only ones. Many national associations are looking at the IAA for help: thus the push, inter alia, for more international standards of actuarial practice and a wider sharing of actuarial professionalism course material."

M. Massé, a father of one who has been married to Céline for 25 years, said his new position is another interesting challenge in a long career. "Following the footsteps of IAA pioneers, including Paul McCrossan and Yves Guérard, and hundreds of actuaries—active or retired—the world over who participated or do now participate actively in IAA affairs, I volunteer my contribution (which in comparison to many is small, but hey, I do what I can) to doing something good for society on a global scale. If that is what drives you, there are plenty of role models to choose among past leaders and it is a good organization to be involved with."

Jean-Louis Massé, left, the new Secretary General of the International Actuarial Association, and his predecessor, Yves Guérard.