CIA (e)Bulletin/(e)Bulletin de l'ICA
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April 2014

Strategic and Operational: Revised Plan Will Shape the CIA’s Future

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By Jacques Lafrance, FCIA
CIA President

Several years ago, the CIA Board decided that it needed to become more strategic in its focus and leave operational and implementation work to councils, committees, and CIA Head Office staff. To start with, the organization required a fresh look at its Strategic Plan and the Board decided to create one that would set the profession on a well-thought through path to the future.

As the CIA has a solid vision ("Members of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) are recognized as trusted leaders in the quantification and management of risks and contingent events"), the first step was to build on this and determine the long-term strategic goals of the CIA. Considerable effort was spent on this foundational step by the Board and the results are below:

  • Being a member of the CIA is regarded as essential for all actuaries practising in Canada. All actuaries practising in Canada are active members of the CIA and view the CIA as their primary actuarial affiliation and the body with which they are most engaged.
  • The CIA is viewed as an educational body, not just an accreditation body. It takes full accountability for the educational path to FCIA (which may involve outsourcing) with the FCIA recognized as being a high-quality stand-alone educational designation (i.e., not having to be aligned to another designation).
  • Building on its research on financial welfare and risks, the CIA is widely recognized by the Canadian public as the leading contributor to dialogue, analysis, and solutions in all areas related to understanding and quantification of future financial contingencies and risks.
  • Building on their extensive role in existing practice areas, CIA members are viewed as key contributors in non-traditional fields such as health care and banking.

From these four cornerstones, the Board and CIA Head Office staff developed a broad and deep plan for now and the future. And by the Board, I mean several Boards! As you know, each year there is a rotation of at least five members onto and off the Board. Input was also sought from the CIA councils. So the discussions were held, and the creative ideas and solutions were derived from a wide base of the volunteer leadership.

At its recent meeting the Board approved a "final" version of the Strategic Plan. Of course "final versions of a living document" is a misnomer, but we now have firm targets in place. This document, part of a package of goals and objectives, will help the Institute meet the challenges it faces, for the next few years.

In November, CIA staff presented the Board with a strategy map which demonstrated the various relationships and linkages among the Institute’s strategic and operational goals. Over the following few months, a task force—which consisted of Board members, council chairs, and staff—analyzed the map and other documents to set the CIA’s priorities.

The following strategic objectives were confirmed as the priorities for 2014, and for several years beyond:

  • Build the Canadian brand;
  • Influence policy setting; and
  • Become the association of choice.

The task force established the priorities using the following criteria:

1. The importance of the objective;

2. The objective’s current perceived level of performance; and

3. The amount of effort required to improve that level of performance.

In the spirit of the Board becoming more strategic and the CIA Head Office staff being more focused on implementation and delivery, staff were tasked with determining the top 10 operational goals to be achieved in 2014, given the assigned priorities, and sharing the results with the Board in March.

The top 10 are (listed in order of target completion date):

1. Build the Canadian Brand

  • During 2013–2014, the CIA will develop a plan to promote actuarial science as a career choice to high school students and upward.
  • During 2014–2015 the CIA will identify target markets—who they are and what they value (students, non-member professionals)—and develop and conduct an outreach campaign by promoting the value of the ACIA and FCIA designations. It will educate potential members about Canadian standards.
  • By the end of 2014 the CIA and the Eligibility and Education Council (EEC) will determine the future of the CIA’s Practice Education Course (PEC) and consider it in relation to the Professionalism Workshop and the Casualty Actuarial Society course on professionalism.
  • During 2014–2015, the CIA will develop a marketing plan to promote the important role the actuarial profession plays in society and the Canadian actuarial brand.
  • During 2013–2014, the CIA along with the EEC will review the 10-year education strategy approved by the Board in 2012 and refine the associated implementation plan with respect to CIA control of the Canadian education syllabus.
  • During 2014–2015, the CIA along with the EEC will define the Canadian education system as a stand-alone end-to-end education system that does not necessarily rely on the completion of other actuarial credentials.

2. Influence Policy Setting

  • During 2013–2014, the CIA will perform an environmental scan to identify potential topic areas related to future financial contingencies and risks.
  • During 2014–2015, staff will develop and implement an outreach plan for policy makers, the media, and the public.
  • During 2014–2015, the CIA along with the Member Services Council will proactively assess and follow up on opportunities for public positions the profession can provide, and report back to the Board.

3. Continuously Improve Operations

  • During 2014–2015 the CIA will evaluate the strategy and evolution of the University Accreditation Program to ensure it is and remains a strong, clear, and attractive path to the ACIA and FCIA designations.

The Strategic Plan also includes three items that hinge on the success of an ongoing customer relationship management (CRM) project: leverage information technology, build a CRM culture, and build and enhance member relationships. In order to build a powerful member-service organization, the Board has approved a $325,000 investment for this initiative in 2014–2015. With technology changing quite quickly, it is important for the Head Office to modernize the systems that help staff manage the profession’s most important resource, its members. This project is on target for implementation in the fall of 2014.

Do the above operational goals and priorities mean that less attention will be paid on the Institute’s core activities? Of course not. The Institute’s volunteers and staff will continue to:

  • Develop and issue timely and relevant guidance on practice-related matters;
  • Provide high-quality services to the members;
  • Efficiently manage relevant research projects and our education, eligibility, and discipline system;
  • Stay connected with international actuarial issues and bring the Canadian perspective and influence to the international table; and
  • Explore and proactively implement actions aimed at expanding the reach of the actuarial profession in Canada.

The revised Strategic Plan represents a road map that will guide the Board, the CIA staff, and volunteers through a number of challenges in the coming years so that we become an even more vibrant profession in the future. As the profession and the broader business world constantly change, it is important for us to continually review our priorities and focus our resources in the areas where we can achieve the best results.

I am grateful to all those who contributed to the many strategic discussions, the plan, and other planning documents, in particular my presidential predecessors Jim Christie and Simon Curtis, who started the process and managed it successfully. By using the latest information and ideas, we have ensured that the Institute is well placed to achieve all its short- and long-term goals.

I urge all members to consider what role they can plan in our progress and development. By working together, and focusing on our priorities, we can adapt and evolve and position ourselves, and the Canadian actuarial profession, as leaders and trusted advisors to Canadians and Canada.

If you have any comments about the plan, or any of its elements, I would be happy to hear from you! My address is

Jacques Lafrance is President of the CIA.


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