Professionalism and Ethics in Times of Change

 

By Alicia Rollo, CHRL

In my October 2015 article, I mentioned that I had met Diane Girard, professor of ethics at McGill University, at the International Actuarial Association (IAA) meeting in Vancouver. Ms. Girard discussed our obligations as professional organizations to equip our members to deal with ethics issues that they may face, and she presented her Framework for Ethical Decision-Making© to the IAA President’s Forum, which is a gathering of the leadership of actuarial organizations from around the world.

It was interesting to note the reaction to Ms. Girard’s presentation and discussion. Some actuarial organizations immediately responded that yes, they were already doing a good job, others had very little reaction, and for others, it was clear that there is more that can be done. I found myself in this latter group, because while the CIA has good foundational pieces in place to promote strong professionalism and ethics among members, there is certainly more that we can do. From our initial qualification process for new Associates (ACIAs) and Fellows (FCIAs), to our continuing professional development (CPD) offerings, the CIA as an organization has a responsibility to support its members to be equipped to handle ethical issues they may encounter.

Education and Continuing Professional Development

The CIA now has its first proprietary education syllabus which is being refined for publishing. It places increased emphasis on professionalism and ethics as foundational material for Associates, and as capstone education for new Fellows. More information will be available regarding the CIA syllabus in the coming months.

With CPD, members often tell me that professionalism content is difficult to come by. Four hours of professionalism CPD over a two-year period doesn’t sound like a lot, however, there are only so many times that you can reread the Rules of Professional Conduct and have a healthy discussion about them with a colleague. So, in recent years, we have increased the number of webcasts on professionalism topics, and we make an effort to include professionalism content in the specialty seminars and the Institute’s flagship Annual Meeting each June. We occasionally even have experienced members attend our professionalism workshop, which is an educational requirement for new Associates. The workshop runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and is offered in both English (Toronto and Ottawa) and French (Montréal) a total of six times a year; it fulfils both structured and professionalism CPD.

Annual Meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland, June 28–29

Although unintentional, a theme of professionalism and ethics (informally dubbed "professionalism and ethics, an anchor in changing times") has emerged for the upcoming CIA Annual Meeting. We live and work in a fast-paced environment, trying to balance family, work, volunteer, and other personal commitments. The demands on our time and the expectations we have of ourselves and that others have of us are ever-increasing. The CIA wants to ensure that members have the tools, resources, and guidance they need, when they need it.

Bylaw Changes

Speaking of times of change, CIA members were asked for their input on two very important professionalism issues—the proposal for the CIA to have members disclose a criminal conviction, and the proposal to tighten CPD compliance rules by restricting the use of the ACIA and FCIA designations to those who are in compliance with the CPD Qualification Standard, and who file the required statement to that effect. Although the latter proposal has been dropped, it raised some interesting perspectives for discussion and debate—which have also provided members with a potential CPD opportunity in the process. On the criminal conviction issue, members will be asked to vote either electronically in advance or in person at the General Business Session at the St. John’s meeting.

Genomics

Continuing with the 2016 Annual Meeting program, which this year is being held in conjunction with the IAA Joint Colloquium, and which features several joint activities, a joint plenary session will be held on June 28 where CIA member Jacques Boudreau, Chair of the CIA’s Committee on Genetic Testing, will join a panel of experts on genomics—a topic and issue with definite ethical implications.

Michael Woodford and Corporate Whistle-Blowing

On the morning of June 29, keynote speaker Michael Woodford, former CEO of Olympus, a Japan-based manufacturer of optics and reprography products, will share his harrowing experience as whistle-blower on his own company. This is an incredible story of ethics and corporate governance that will have you on the edge of your seat. Attendees at the meeting will also have an opportunity for an intimate and interactive breakout session with Mr. Woodford following his keynote presentation. Also in the program, and back by popular demand, is Ethical Decision-Making for Actuaries. In this breakout session facilitated by Frank Grossman, FCIA, participants will discuss thought-provoking issues and cases based on the fundamentals of ethics.

Ethical Decision-Making with Diane Girard

Finally, following the presidential changeover, where CIA President Rob Stapleford will pass the torch to President-elect Dave Dickson, Diane Girard will close the 2016 Annual Meeting with a few real-world scenarios in which actuaries could likely find themselves, and how one can apply her Framework for Ethical Decision-Making©.

In Conclusion

I hope this article has provided you with a few ideas for professionalism CPD hours. Don’t forget that archived material from previous meetings is always available. Check out this month’s (e)Bulletin Events News for information on free continuing professional development.

The CIA Committee on Continuing Education and Head Office staff continue to work hard to make CIA meetings meaningful and memorable experiences for professional development and good networking, so I hope to see you in St. John’s.

Comments and suggestions are always welcome and can be sent to alicia.rollo@cia-ica.ca.

Alicia Rollo, CHRL, is the CIA’s director of membership, education, and professional development.

Canadian Institute of Actuaries/Institut canadien des actuaires
http://www.cia-ica.ca/