We listened, we learned, we laughed: act19 wrap-up

This article originally appeared in the CIA (e)Bulletin.

Act19, the CIA’s new annual conference and flagship event, was a success.

Hosting over 600 actuarial professionals, 114 session speakers, 11 sponsors, and four remarkable keynote speakers, the revitalized conference gave delegates the opportunity to connect, learn, and grow through an immersive and high-quality meeting experience.

From increased networking opportunities and interactive plenaries to session topics that pushed the envelope and expanded the mind, act19 promised to deliver, and it did.

The lead-up

Ahead of the conference, the CIA hosted its first-ever volunteer cocktail event – an intimate gathering celebrating some of the Institute’s amazing volunteers. As attendees mingled among friends, colleagues, and members of the Board, the occasion struck a perfect balance between professional and fun – a tone that would carry throughout the next two days.

The conference

Day one opened with a dynamic address from intellectual-capital expert Nick Bontis, who sought to inspire actuaries to stop working harder and start working smarter.

“The scarcest resource we have is not time,” said Mr. Bontis. “The scarcest resource you possess as an actuarial professional is attention – the optimal allocation of your time.”

Delegates spent two days exploring sessions relevant to the industry and changing needs of the profession. Unconventional and hot button topics like retirement age, the impact of marijuana legalization on industry, climate change, and digital disruption challenged views and inspired debate.

“I always try to go for those non-traditional actuarial sessions, so this one [Marijuana is Now Legal, What Do We Need to Know?] for that reason was good,” said Umair Ali, Assistant Vice-President, Product Development, at PartnerRe. “Topics that focus on areas other than regulations are always interesting.”

Jean-Claude Ménard, former Chief Actuary of Canada, attended as a keynote speaker and received the 2019 President’s Award for his contribution to the actuarial profession. He shared a few words on his experience and the need for social justice worldwide.

Delegates also heard from political pundits Jeffrey Simpson and Chantal Hébert in an amusing, no-holds-barred address that left guests entertained and informed.

With the new conference format came greater opportunities to network, including the delegate networking reception at the end of day one, sponsored by Elliott Bauer. Guests had the chance to make new acquaintances, catch up with old friends and colleagues, and if lucky, chat with an expert or two.

Volunteer awards

The annual conference is a great opportunity to highlight the achievements of members, in particular, our volunteers. Thursday’s luncheon announced the recipients of this year’s bronze, silver, and gold awards. Thank you to all our volunteers for generously giving their time and expertise, and congratulations to all of our award recipients this year. Have a look at our 2019 volunteer recognition presentation.

Actuaries making an impact

The exclusive Actuaries Helping Hands activity, generously sponsored by Valani Global enabled 20 special guests to give back in a truly remarkable way.

Five small teams, at this exclusive invitation-only event, worked closely together to build prosthetic hands that Odyssey Teams will donate to amputees affected by landmines and other hazards around the world.

“The ‘Actuaries Helping Hands’ activity was a pleasure,” says Michelle Lindo, Assistant Vice-President and Deputy Valuation Actuary, Munich Re Canada. “It was humbling to know that as we worked together in small groups, first figuring out the instructions and then taking turns building the hand, that we would actually make a profound difference to a person’s life. A very fulfilling and memorable experience!”

Nazir Valani, President of Valani Global, adds: “My wife and I came to Canada as refugees. Canada has treated us exceptionally well. Valani Global is very happy to have this opportunity to give back.”

New Fellows

This year, the CIA welcomed over 273 new Fellows to the Institute, 67 of whom took to the stage to receive their certificate of Fellowship in front of over 600 applauding guests. Read more details in our growing profession article later in this (e)Bulletin.

Presidential change of office

John Dark reflected on his year as President with heartfelt thanks to CIA members for the honour bestowed on him of serving as CIA President. Recalling his commitment to finish what had been started, Mr. Dark spoke of the changes to the governance structure, changes to elections that saw our first Fellow elected to the position reserved for Fellows of less than seven years since qualification, and the first ACIA elected to the Board, and thanked the CIA’s 500+ volunteers for their time and creativity. “I leave office confident that the future for the CIA and its members has never been brighter,” he said.

Michel Simard, CIA Executive Director, thanked Immediate Past President Sharon Giffen for her outstanding contributions to the CIA, and in particular, her work on governance changes.

Incoming President Marc Tardif stepped into his role, excited for the year ahead. “When I complete the full cycle of my presidency as Immediate Past President in June 2021, I will have been a member of the CIA for 40 years,” he said. “Belonging to this group of dedicated professionals has brought me immense satisfaction.”

Mr. Tardif spoke of the changes to the actuarial world, from valuation-based prescribed factors to CALM in life insurance (and soon to IFRS 17), to changes in modelling policy risks in P&C, and the changes to funding levels and erosion with defined benefit plans on the pension side. The CIA looks forward to its continued prosperity under Marc’s leadership.

The close

This year’s goal was to give delegates a more robust and high-quality meeting experience – one that marries the importance of professional knowledge and skill building while incorporating the value of networking and having a good time.

“The act19 Organizing Committee was happy to bring members a stronger focus on CPD, new session formats, TED-style talks, and more networking time,” said June Smyth, Chair of the Organizing Committee. “We look forward to reviewing member feedback to make act20 in Ottawa even better.”

We would like to thank our act19 sponsors: Elliott Bauer, PartnerRe, SCOR, Valani Global, Moody’s Analytics, Oliver Wyman, RGA, the Society of Actuaries, Willis Towers Watson, Hannover Re, and Munich Re. Their generosity help ensure our members continue to receive the best conference experience.

Act19 was a wonderful opportunity to see the actuarial community gather and a further example of how collaboration can lead to great things. Check out more pictures and hear interviews with delegates on the Seeing Beyond Risk podcast.

See you next year!

Follow us

Contact Us

Canadian Institute of Actuaries
360 Albert Street, Suite 1740
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7X7

Subscribe to our emails