We are Ready for New Challenges

By Simon Curtis, FCIA
CIA President

As I write this I cannot believe my year as President is already coming to an end—the time seems to have passed by in a flash.

It has left me confident that the profession in Canada is in good hands—we have an engaged leadership at the Board and council level, an efficient and tireless Head Office led by our Executive Director, a strong culture of volunteerism throughout the organization, and a very professional and engaged membership. With our powerful sense of professionalism and integrity, and our core analytic skills in projecting and evaluating the cash flows and risks associated with all forms of financial security programs, I believe as a profession in Canada we are well placed to help provide leadership to address many of the most important issues we face today, from rising health care costs to the implications of increased longevity and low interest rates on pension plan sustainability and the ability to provide other forms of long-term financial security benefits.

Nevertheless, we do live in a time of rapid change in every aspect of our working and social environments, which provides a tremendous challenge to us to remain as relevant as possible and allow our members to use their skills and abilities to maximum advantage.

One of the most important initiatives I believe we undertook over the past year was to look forward and adopt four key strategic long-term goals that the Board feels are central to the long-term future of the Institute and its members in Canada. While I covered these in a previous article, I believe they are worth repeating:
  1. Being a member of the CIA is regarded as essential for all actuaries practising in Canada. All actuaries practising in Canada are active members of the CIA and view the CIA as their primary actuarial affiliation and the body with which they are most engaged.
  2. The CIA is viewed as an educational body, not just an accreditation body. It takes full accountability for the educational path to FCIA (which may involve outsourcing) with the FCIA recognized as being a high-quality stand-alone educational designation (i.e., not having to be aligned to another designation).
  3. Building on its research on financial welfare and risks, the CIA is widely recognized by the Canadian public as the leading contributor to dialogue, analysis, and solutions in all areas related to understanding and quantification of future financial contingencies and risks.
  4. Building on their extensive role in existing practice areas, CIA members are viewed as key contributors in non-traditional fields such as health care and banking.
We are currently working to align the CIA operational and strategic plans around these goals. Over the past few months I and other members of the leadership have had the chance to interact and meet with the leadership of many of our peer actuarial organizations globally. What is interesting is the four themes we have identified in our long-term goals keep coming up as challenges and areas of focus for these other organizations. Essentially, the world is not standing still, and to stay relevant and vital we must find ways to adapt to emerging new fields and areas of practice. How we educate ourselves, position ourselves externally with our public, and promote our actuarial professionalism are central to achieving this. This is particularly important for the younger members of our profession, who will spend a significant part of their careers working in environments likely very different from today. This leads me to one observation on what we as an Institute should strive to do better: getting younger members more involved in leadership roles and roles of influence in the Institute.

We are definitely living and working in interesting times, and now that my year as President is over I am looking forward to continuing to contribute to the Institute and our profession.

Simon Curtis, FCIA, is President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries