Committee Profile: Committee on Membership Eligibility


By Terence Narine, FCIA

Earlier this year, the Eligibility Committee became the Committee on Membership Eligibility. The main activity of the nine-member committee is approving new Fellows (FCIAs). This is an ongoing process that involves reviewing member applications to ensure candidates meet the standards required for enrolment.

I have been a member of the committee since 2003, becoming chair in July 2016. Each year, we review between 150–200 applications for CIA Fellowship. In 2015, the number was 150. The number of applications any one committee member reviews is dependent on his or her area of expertise: the reviewer usually works or has experience in the candidate’s practice area.

The primary focus of the reviewers on the committee is ascertaining that the candidates have the relevant work experience to meet the qualification standards. CIA Head Office staff review applications to ensure that submitted information is completed as per FCIA application guidelines, with a secondary check by the reviewer on the committee responsible for any given application. Reviewers then fill out an Excel spreadsheet with a checklist relevant to the application. As well, they provide a recommendation to approve or not approve the application. Final decision for the approval goes to the Eligibility and Education Council. 

Approval Process

Many applications are relatively straightforward. However, on occasion there can be a certain level of difficulty in reviewing an FCIA application. Have applicants from other countries satisfied the requirements for enrolment? What about someone who works in Canada doing U.S. rather than Canadian actuarial work? Or someone in a non-traditional role without a direct FCIA supervisor? We often have to make decisions around whether we approve a candidate in such circumstances. The committee has always taken the side of conservatism in these cases in order to be fair to other candidates and also to ensure the high standards that are required for achieving the FCIA designation. We will typically ask candidates to get additional experience, or other requirements before we approve them for the designation. This may seem onerous to candidates in exceptional circumstances. However, the committee takes its responsibility of maintaining the bar at a certain level fairly seriously. Those reviewing applications may have in-depth discussions with other members before getting approval from the CIA to call the candidate’s supervisor to ask further questions.

The recent changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct now require applicants to the Institute to disclose any criminal convictions they may have. We must also factor this in to our review. Should an applicant make a disclosure, the Committee on Professionalism within the CIA would become involved before we can approve or not approve the candidate. I’m not aware that we have seen any candidates at this point with a self-declared criminal conviction. However, the rule has been around only for a few months.

After we approve a candidate, we pass their application back to Roxanne Vézina, coordinator, membership and education, at the CIA’s Head Office. The candidate’s application then goes before the Eligibility and Education Council (EEC) for final approval.

Ensuring the Quality of FCIAs

The educational part of volunteerism within the actuarial profession is important to me. I initially became involved with the Eligibility Committee because I wanted to have a say in the quality of Fellows, to ensure consistency, and to help the CIA maintain its high standards.

One of the benefits of being chair of the Committee on Membership Eligibility is that I am also a member of the EEC. I have been involved in the continuing professional development (CPD) audit, where each year the chair of the Membership Eligibility Committee reviews the CPD filings of a random group of approximately 50 members to ensure that they are meeting their CPD requirements.

Also related to CPD, the Board has set up a Task Force on CPD Review, chaired by Immediate Past President Rob Stapleford. I am a member of this task force, which is examining the CIA’s CPD requirements and reporting, how to foster greater awareness of what qualifies as acceptable CPD, how to enhance the annual auditing of CPD compliance statements, and the availability of CPD programs.

The Committee on Membership Eligibility also reviews mutual recognition agreements between the Institute and other actuarial organizations.

A Great Way to Earn CPD Credits

The committee doesn’t have face-to-face meetings. All of the work is done by conference calls, meeting as required, with an objective of a minimum of two meetings each year. We often have a lot of lead time to get things done, although there are deadlines for reviewing Fellow applications for EEC approval. Working on the committee is an excellent way to earn CPD credits, particularly since the work centres around professionalism. There is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing you are helping the actuarial profession maintain the quality of its members.

Terence Narine, FCIA, is Chair of the Committee on Membership Eligibility.

Canadian Institute of Actuaries/Institut canadien des actuaires