Council’s Work Requires New and Experienced Members

By Bruce Langstroth, FCIA

Have you ever wondered what the Practice Council is and how it conducts its business?

In general terms, the Practice Council oversees the production of "guidance material"—practice-related material (usually educational notes or research papers) other than standards. It directs and manages the development and approves the adoption of guidance material. It provides interpretations of standards and all guidance material. And it monitors the work of other professional standard-setting bodies providing comments and feedback on that work as appropriate. The Practice Council is made up of nine volunteer members, who usually serve a term of three years, plus ex officio members.

Most of the council’s work product involves the 11 practice committees (and their subcommittees) that have been established to provide guidance on practice within specific areas. Standing practice committees have been formed in those areas of practice where there is sufficient volume and consistency of work to warrant the commitment. In other areas, where there is an ad hoc or temporary need (e.g., to provide guidance material to support the adoption of International Standard of Actuarial Practice 2 Social Security by the Actuarial Standards Board), the council may establish a task force to produce guidance material on a specific topic, with the intention of disbanding the group once its work is done.

The practice committees cover a broad range of topics and practice areas, including pensions (Pension Plan Financial Reporting), property and casualty insurance (Property and Casualty Insurance Financial Reporting, and Property and Casualty Insurance Pricing), life insurance (Life Insurance Financial Reporting), insurance companies (the Appointed/Valuation Actuary and Risk Management and Capital Requirements), investment practice, actuarial evidence, post-employment benefits, workers’ compensation, and consistency and language (the Standards of Practice Editing).

Task forces that have completed their work but have not yet been disbanded include: Pension and Post-Retirement Benefit Accounting Discount Rates, the Contents of Pension Actuarial Reports, and the Determination of Provisions for Adverse Deviations in Going Concern Valuations.

There are more than 150 volunteer members participating in the various practice committees and subcommittees that support the Practice Council. They generally serve a three-year term before retiring from the committee and being replaced by a new volunteer.

It goes without saying that the council’s work relies heavily on its volunteers and that without the large number of members who contribute their time and energy, fulfilling its mandate would be a near impossible task. This role is not limited to experienced practitioners—younger members with less experience have a valuable part to play in the work of these committees in providing fresh perspectives and being able to challenge established thinking, something that is vital in the development of quality guidance material.

Whether you are experienced or just starting out in your career, the Practice Council and its practice committees need your support. Please consider volunteering. Details on council and committee membership is available on the CIA’s website (log in to the members site and click on Organization) and the chairs would all be more than willing to entertain questions and expressions of interest.

Bruce Langstroth, FCIA, is Chair of the Practice Council.

Canadian Institute of Actuaries/Institut canadien des actuaires