Transcript from October 21 Video Update

By Rob Stapleford, FCIA
CIA President

To view the video version of this message, click here.

Hello. My name is Rob Stapleford, and I am President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

The latest Board meeting covered a lot of important topics, and I will focus on some of the highlights in this video update. 

Strategic Plan

The Board got together the night before the scheduled meeting for an orientation for new members and to start work on the CIA’s strategic plan. The plan is due for review, in order to set out objectives for the next three to five years.

The core of a strategic plan is the vision and mission for the organization. After much discussion over several meetings, the Board adopted the following vision for the CIA: "Financial security for Canadians." And the mission is: "As the trusted bilingual voice of the Canadian actuarial profession, we advance actuarial science and its application for the well-being of society."

Impression Audit Results

Before launching into a detailed planning process for government outreach, the Board commissioned an impression audit from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (GQR), a respected research and polling firm. An impression audit seeks input from various stakeholders in an interview format to obtain a deeper perspective on the CIA. GQR conducted 34 in-depth interviews of a cross-section of CIA stakeholders: politicians, government officials, regulators, and others who were asked about the major risks facing Canada, their attitudes towards and understanding of the work of actuaries and the CIA, and the routes open to the CIA for engaging in public affairs. Highlights of the audit included the following:

There is recognition internally that some research projects need to be aligned to topics that relate to these stakeholders’ needs, and that this work will create even deeper connections between the CIA and governments. There is plenty of interesting information in GQR’s final report. We plan to offer a webcast to members on the results of the audit.

Membership Input Sought on CIA Direction

A key step in the strategic planning process will be to determine the primary areas of focus for the profession in 2016–2019. The Board identified several possible objectives including public policy, education for the future, member engagement, and non-traditional areas of practice. The Board wants to seek membership input on the strategic objectives for the CIA. A survey will be released to members shortly to get your input on what direction the CIA should take over the next three to five years. In order to obtain and analyse input from as many as 5,000 members, the survey will be designed to make input easy to provide and analyse within our work plan. Dave Dickson, CIA President-elect, will lead the effort to prepare a draft of the strategic plan for discussion at the November Board meeting. The Board will use member input as it determines the ultimate strategy. Stay tuned for more on this process in the very near future.

The Board held a wide-ranging discussion on the public interest, the profession’s role in it, and how it is defined. Getting involved does represent some risk for the profession. But not getting involved has risk as well, not only for actuaries, but for Canadians and Canada. One of the comments made during the discussion was that the profession’s commitment to the public interest is one critical item that separates the CIA from being a trade association. There will be more on this topic as we move through the strategic planning process over the next six months.

Controversial September Press Release

There were some subscribers to the General List who have expressed concerns about a press release that was distributed to the media on September 3. As mentioned in an announcement on September 16, the release was withdrawn from the CIA website and scheduled to be discussed at the Board meeting on September 30. The Board had a good discussion about the process followed, the application of related bylaws and policies, and the timing of the release. The key results were that the Board agreed that the process for reviewing and issuing the release was consistent with the Board’s interpretation of applicable bylaws and policies and practices applied to previous communications tools such as press releases. The Board was also concerned about how the release was covered on Twitter. The Board also decided not to repost the release. For members who want to know more about the recent messages on the General List about press releases and Twitter, please see my announcement to all members on October 2. Please be assured that the Board takes—and I take—following due process very seriously and strives to do so in all of our activities.

Actuarial Standards Board Update

Actuarial Standards Board (ASB) chair Ty Faulds delivered the annual update on the work of the ASB to the Board. Ty told us that there are four priority areas this year:

  1. Standards for target benefit plans;
  2. Investment practice standards;
  3. Own risk solvency assessments for insurance companies; and 
  4. Consistency between practice-specific standards. 

Ty also mentioned some of the areas of concern for the ASB, such as the recognition of mortality improvement trends with a focus on consistency between pension and insurance standards, including pension and marriage breakdown commuted value standards, and evolving provincial developments in target benefit plans and continuing low interest rates. These factors and others have led to deterioration in the funded status of pension plans, and implications for aspects of insurance, post-employment benefits, and public personal injury compensation plan valuations. Ty also talked about the progress by the International Actuarial Association (IAA) on international standards of practice, both approved and those under development. Two of these standards of practice are in the risk management field, and he mentioned that the CIA’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Applications Committee will be meeting with the ASB to discuss the possibility of developing practice-specific standards for ERM. As well, the ASB mentioned a few other areas where there are no practice-specific standards—actuarial work for public plans like the CPP, QPP, EI, public health care, and investment work. Finally, Ty updated the Board on project plans for general standards, insurance standards, pensions, and actuarial evidence.

Member Services Council (MSC) Update

Marie-Hélène Malenfant, the chair of the MSC, delivered the MSC’s annual report to the Board. Several members just completed their terms of service and six new members, including one young actuary, have been approved to join the MSC. A vice-chair will be named shortly. Marie- Hélène reviewed some of the documents that have been published over the year. A new policy on the due process for all research documents was recently passed by the Practice Council, Research Committee (ResCo) and the MSC. This new policy will cover every type of research document and will reinforce the approval process substantially. As I mentioned earlier, ResCo, and the MSC will be looking at the development of checklists for documents not included in the new Policy on Due Process for the Approval of Research Reports. In addition, the MSC has launched a project to review, update, and in some cases, create the due process for publishing and issuing specific CIA documents, including press releases and tweets.

The Public Policy Committee has been busy since its creation last year, having approved and published 15 submissions and public positions.

The MSC approved the creation of a Committee on Predictive Modelling, an Academic Research Subcommittee under ResCo, and the mandate for the Volunteer Management and Development Committee, which will incorporate the work of the Volunteer Initiatives Committee. The Volunteer Management and Development Committee assumes responsibility for the important work of managing this critical resource for the profession.

The CIA will submit an expression of interest to the IAA about holding the 2026 International Congress of Actuaries in Canada. The Board has selected Jason Vary to chair the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the event. Jason has been a pension actuary for over 15 years, and is an active volunteer with the CIA. Jason was the Chair of the CIA’s Eligibility and Education Council, and is currently on the Public Positions Committee. The full bid is due by February 1, 2016.

The next Board meeting will be held on November 26 and there are many items that will move ahead in the meantime, including reaching out to you, the members, for input on the strategic plan. I look forward to hearing from you on the plan and to our next update on current issues.

Rob Stapleford, FCIA, is President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Canadian Institute of Actuaries/Institut canadien des actuaires