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

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:

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:

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

2. Influence Policy Setting

3. Continuously Improve Operations

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:

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.

Canadian Institute of Actuaries/Institut canadien des actuaires