Big Achievements in 2011 and Exciting News for 2012

By Dave Dickson, FCIA

As we bring 2011 to a close this seems like a good time for an update from the Eligibility and Education Council (EEC) on two of the year’s major projects which will culminate in exciting initiatives for 2012.

In June 2012, a number of enhancements will be introduced to provide CIA Associates with more value for their membership, and in September 2012, accredited universities will begin offering courses that will allow students to receive credits from the CIA for some of the early Society of Actuaries (SOA) and Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) exams. Both initiatives will lead to a stronger CIA that is prepared for the future. Exciting, exciting, exciting!

Over a year ago, the EEC received a report that the number of Associates with the CIA was declining, even though the overall membership numbers continued to conservatively increase. A task force was formed with Jason Vary as chair to look at the situation and consider how the CIA can provide better value to Associates. Feedback was gathered through surveys, focus groups and conversations with employers. Based on their findings, the task force made a number of recommendations which were approved by the EEC and the Board. Here is a summary of the initiatives:
The goal of these changes is to attract more young actuaries to the CIA and get them involved in the Institute. Having more Associates volunteer with the CIA will bring new energy and commitment to its volunteer projects.

Through the new University Accreditation Program, students at accredited universities will be able to receive credits from the CIA for some of the early SOA and CAS exams through university courses. Under the leadership of Rob Stapleford, the Accreditation Committee was set up to develop the policies, processes, and exemption standards for this program. A great deal of work has gone into this project over the last year to ensure that the students who receive exemptions from the CIA are of high quality, and that they would have clearly passed the SOA or CAS exams.

This program recognizes the strength of Canadian universities and reduces duplication of effort for students, while making the travel time to Fellowship a little more predictable. These are all good things that will make the actuarial profession more appealing to bright young students.

Canadian universities were involved with the development of the program and were represented on the Accreditation Committee. Many Canadian universities applied to be part of the program. Accreditation Panels visited all the applicants to look at their internal processes, course coverage, and size of faculty, as well as the grades at which students could potentially achieve exemptions, to determine which universities would qualify. All of the universities which applied had very good actuarial programs, but not all met each of the requirements of the University Accreditation Policy. The Accreditation Committee produced a report and made recommendations to the EEC on the universities which qualified based on meeting the criteria of the program. The EEC met with the committee and was very impressed with the amount and quality of the work that was done. The EEC approved the recommendations, which were presented to the CIA Board meeting on November 29, 2011.

It is important to note that the Accreditation Committee has observer representatives from both the Casualty Actuarial Association (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA). The CAS will be carefully considering the CIA university accreditation program in 2012, to make a decision on whether to recognize CIA exemptions towards the FCAS designation. In due course, the CIA plans to approach the SOA to discuss its recognition of CIA exemptions towards the FSA designation. Until recognition is achieved by these organizations, students who are interested in pursuing the FSA or the FCAS will likely continue to follow the traditional exam route.

The CIA expects to grant its first exemptions to students in 2013.

That’s all for this update. Please stay tuned for more on these exciting initiatives in the new year! Happy holidays and all the best for 2012!

Dave Dickson, FCIA, is Chair of the Eligibility and Education Council.