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The world needs more CIA

By Jason Malone, FCIA, Chair of the International Affairs Council

Members know the CIA as the source for standards and guidance, professionalism, and CPD. The CIA tagline says we are “the voice of the actuarial profession in Canada” but I would argue that our voice has a much broader reach than our national borders.

My CIA mentors on the international front who chaired the International Affairs Council (IAC) before me (Micheline Dionne, Dave Pelletier, and Jacques Tremblay) have been ruthlessly consistent in sharing two key messages: 1 – the CIA punches far above its weight internationally, and 2 – our involvement in the International Actuarial Association (IAA) is important.

While I always believed it, it has become even more apparent to me during my time as Chair of the IAC, and I feel I would do their sound guidance a disservice if I did not try to carry the message on to not only those who follow me in this role, but also the members and chairs of the IAC and its committees, the Board, and more importantly, to you, my colleagues within the CIA.

Over the past while, I’ve spoken to many in my professional networks who have no idea what the CIA does on the international front, what the IAA is, why we are members, or quite bluntly, why they should care. So, in the few months that I have remaining as Chair of the IAC, I want to do my best to get the word out.

Those of us who are close to the international portfolio, both volunteers and CIA staff, are deeply passionate about why we do what we do, so, at first, the comment took me off guard. “Well of course it’s important” was my instinctive response…but why? Why in fact should members care about the IAA?

Why our involvement in the IAA is important

We should care and actively participate in the IAA because we need it for the profession to have a collective voice globally. We are much stronger together than as individual entities competing in a global marketplace. Through the IAA we can have a unified voice to other supranationals – organizations like the IASB, OECD, IAIS, ISSA, and others – on global issues affecting the profession.

The CIA voice is carried through a dedicated team of volunteers who care deeply about the future of the profession, specifically as it relates to international standards, professionalism, and education, who work tirelessly on IAA committees to develop and maintain strong standards for the profession internationally.

Our voices contribute to the development of other countries, and we gain from the wealth of knowledge we learn from them. Participation in the IAA leads to diversity in our thinking, and new ways of looking at the challenges facing the profession. We recently had the privilege of contributing to the Actuarial Association of Europe’s publication on the Application of Professional Judgement by Actuaries as a direct result of our involvement in the IAA.

Through our participation we also stand up for what we believe in, demonstrating time and time again that Canada is in fact an independent body, capable of making decisions for itself, and advocating in the best interest of the profession, as opposed to advocating for its own needs. Our guiding principle of putting the interests of the public ahead of the interests of the Institute and its members is consistently projected to the international scene.

The CIA as a good global citizen

As a nation, Canada is generally seen as a good global citizen and, as columnist J.J. McCullough writes on his site the Canada Guide, our country’s “active participation in every major international organization forms one of Canada’s most respectable qualities in the eyes of foreigners.”

Therefore, as the CIA strives to uphold its guiding principle to serve the public, it seems natural that we should mirror our national reputation specifically within our profession – which has the opportunity to do great things for our nation and the global public.

Our involvement and interest in the IAA are not new. Our efforts date back many years. In fact, in 1998 Paul McCrossan, past president of the CIA and of the IAA, drove the restructure of the IAA at that time. Other past presidents of the IAA include our own Rob Brown (2014), Jean-Louis Massé (2006), and Mo Chambers (2001).

Looking forward

We are currently advocating for strong standards for education globally where they might have been otherwise diminished, and we have been influential in this regard. We will continue to advocate that, internationally, candidates achieve the minimum necessary education to hold an actuarial credential. We have pushed tirelessly for progress on IAN 100 to support our efforts on IFRS 17 insurance contracts, to gain additional guidance for members of the CIA where other countries saw less urgency. And, we have been advocating for a strong IAA with sound governance through our active participation in its recent restructuring efforts to ensure that the international reputation and voice of the profession is upheld and further strengthened.

As I look to the future, the global context is changing and the competition facing the profession is fierce. We belong at the international table discussing the future of the profession in terms of areas of practice, education, and standards, and we should be leading by example. The IAA is the right place for these conversations and the right conduit for our international voice.

While it may seem odd to end this article with a policy reference, our Policy on International Strategy guides our efforts. While it may not be on the top of your reading list, there is some good stuff in it, reflecting the past work of those who have come before me. At its core is why international involvement is important and why the world needs more CIA.

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

This article reflects the opinion of the author and does not represent an official statement of the CIA.

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