Update on CIA Education Initiatives

By Jason Vary, FCIA

In 2012, the Institute adopted a 10-year strategy with respect to education and qualification processes for the Associate and Fellow (ACIA and FCIA) designations to ensure a cohesive and rigorous approach to education in Canada. This approach will recognize multiple sources of education and enhance the positive recognition of FCIAs internationally.

With our education strategy clearly defined, we are now well into the implementation phase on a number of fronts, including discussions with the Society of Actuaries (SOA) regarding its recognition of our University Accreditation Program (UAP), and defining our education and eligibility requirements in Canadian terms.

SOA recognition of the UAP

The Institute is continuing its talks with the SOA with the goal of securing the society’s recognition of the UAP. Recent discussions included a meeting at the end of February with members of the SOA leadership team, as well as a presentation earlier this month at the SOA Board meeting. The society has also had an observer on the Institute’s Accreditation Committee from very early on in the implementation process.

One of the obstacles to the SOA’s recognition appears to be its largely U.S.-based membership’s resistance to moving away from a validation-by-examination education system. However, it has been my experience that once an individual understands the rigor and depth of our program, they ultimately agree that offering this alternative to some preliminary exams is a good thing for the actuarial profession.

The rigor is evidenced in part by our requirements regarding credentialed actuarial professors, syllabus coverage, and exemption mark setting. This is further controlled and verified by having external examiners employed by the Institute who, starting this spring, will perform a thorough annual audit of each university.

I remain optimistic that the SOA will recognize the program in due course, and I will continue to reach out to its leadership and members in pursuit of this goal.

While we are on the topic of the UAP, I am happy to report that the University of Montréal has been granted accreditation for courses beginning in the fall 2013 semester. The university joins 10 others, which were accredited for courses starting in the fall 2012 semester.

Task Force on Canadian Eligibility Requirements

Angelita Graham is leading a multi-disciplinary task force to define the Canadian education and eligibility criteria to become an ACIA and FCIA, and to determine how the requisite knowledge will be taught and tested. The task force is expected to complete its work by fall 2013.

Once we have our education and eligibility criteria documented in first principles, it will allow the CIA to more efficiently and consistently evaluate requests for recognition, such as those from the SOA with respect to its upcoming General Insurance track, and a new mutual recognition agreement with the Actuarial Society of South Africa.

Professionalism Workshop

The Institute’s Professionalism Workshop, which is a requirement to obtain the ACIA designation, was recently reviewed and refreshed. The updated course was rolled out last month and includes additional case studies on professional issues, various pre-readings, and added discussion on the services provided by the Institute to its members. The course is also offered at more dates and locations throughout the year, with a particular increase in the number of French offerings in response to rising demand.

ACIA volunteers wanted

I would like to personally encourage any new or existing Associates to consider volunteering with the CIA. The Institute has a strong desire to involve members of all levels in the Institute’s activities, and given the recent introduction of the ACIA designation there is an increased demand for ACIA volunteers. In fact, I am interested in recruiting one or two ACIAs to serve on the Eligibility and Education Council, so please contact me directly if you are interested.

Jason Vary, FCIA, is Chair of the Eligibility and Education Council.