Global Challenges for Former CIA President

Overcoming complex challenges, attending multinational meetings, and helping to shape the future of the profession are all on the agenda for former CIA President Rob Brown, the President of the International Actuarial Association (IAA) for 2014.

Mr. Brown, pictured above, retired from his academic career in 2010, but said: "I am now a little busier than I had expected. There seems to be a lot of material that needs to be seen by the President, and it is a busy time as we have IAA committee meetings in Washington that are back to back with the International Congress of Actuaries.

"I am looking forward to attending the Congress, as I enjoy seeing friends and colleagues every six months [at IAA meetings], and it fits in with my academic background; I will be presenting four papers there, besides introducing speakers and so on."

The former professor at the University of Waterloo said that so far he had received great support from the staff and officers at the IAA, and he would tackle a range of issues during his year in office by deepening the IAA’s engagement with its member associations.

"We decided a year ago to have a governance review, and as we are 15 years old we were probably due for one. There is natural tension between some of our Full Member Associations regarding their rights and influence as members, and some are feeling the pressure of paying the IAA membership fee because they do not have the resources. We are trying to find ways of engaging with all our Full Member Associations. It is a difficult job, and you need to have diplomacy—coupled with determination. You cannot put together structures that are 100 per cent satisfactory for everybody.

"We must also look at how much of our work seems to be in the hands of English speakers, who also tend to belong to the larger associations. I hope we can bring about a broader base of participation."

The IAA was working on a number of important initiatives, Mr. Brown added. "We made some promises to the International Association of Insurance Supervisors, which is forging ahead drafting standards and regulations. That work really needs to have the global actuarial profession closely involved, and now we are working actively with their committees. They need to spread the work on more shoulders, and I think the IAA is going to find its human resources pulled to the greatest extent that is possible. We may consider partnering with very large Full Member Associations and their staff for some support activities, while ultimately retaining a global viewpoint."

Pointing to the IAA’s recent "huge" success in cooperating with Russian actuariessee the separate story in this month’s (e)Bulletin—Mr. Brown said: "As President of the CIA in 1989–1990, my concerns ended at the Canadian border, and Toronto, Montréal, and Ottawa represented 85 per cent of the actuarial activity in Canada. Now I’m working with 65 associations representing 60,000 actuaries in over 100 countries, with a wide variety of interests. My primary focus is work with supranational organizations with which we have established relationships. Then I want to help developing actuarial associations to get established locally."

He explained that his overall agenda could be summed up in three words: transparency, diversity, and flexibility.

"As an association of volunteers, we cannot allow ourselves to be opaque, so we have become more transparent by opening up our website and improving the way we communicate our activities.

"Regarding diversity, we have often been seen as white, male, and English-speaking. We have to do a far better job of reflecting the demographic profile of the global profession.

"Flexibility is also important: we can set up enough committees to choke many horses and enough bureaucracy to make sure we get nothing done. In the end the organisation needs to remain responsive and agile, and that means staying flexible."

However, he added: "At the end of the day I want to make sure we also have some fun!"

Canadian Institute of Actuaries/Institut canadien des actuaires