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CIA leadership – International style

By Jason Malone, FCIA, Chair of the CIA’s International Affairs Council and current international ambassador for the CIA

From updates on IFRS 17 to announcements about the International Actuarial Association’s (IAA) renewal, the CIA International Affairs Council aims to keep members informed on international matters of interest. We are proud to showcase the achievements of Micheline Dionne, FCIA, new President-Elect of the IAA, CIA Past President, and former chair of the CIA Committee on International Relations.

As a longtime leader on the international front, Micheline has employed her expertise to aid in developing the International Standards of Practice (ISAP), discussions on climate-related risk, and more.

Journey to the top

Micheline has actively contributed to the global status of the profession since 2009. As President of the CIA at that time, she began by participating in IAA meetings, learning of the critical work being done by their committees. Not one to watch from the sidelines, Micheline took an interest in the IAA Insurance Accounting Committee and their efforts focusing on IFRS 17, eventually becoming vice-chair of the committee in 2012.

This steadfast dedication and commitment quickly resulted in her leading the development of ISAP 4 – the model actuarial standard accompanying IFRS 17, now proposed to be adapted in Part 2000 of the Canadian Standards. Once completed in 2019, Micheline led the IAA climate risks effort, becoming chair of the IAA Climate Risks Task Force (CRTF) and chairing the IAA Resource and Environment Forum.

Under her guidance, the CRTF has published three of eight planned papers. The fourth paper has been released for comment and work has begun on the fifth. In the meantime, the group has actively engaged with the UN-convened Sustainability Insurance Forum and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“It’s been an incredible two years, having seen the interest in climate-related risk grow significantly,” says Micheline. “I highly recommend CIA members read the IAA papers to see firsthand the great work being done by actuarial associations around the world.”

Over her many years of involvement, Micheline Dionne has seen the IAA achieve great things, many of which have helped the profession to grow in recognition. Micheline uses the example of IFRS 17 to expand:

“It triggered the need for actuaries to work with the IFRS Foundation given that accountants were not familiar with the concept of valuation using low probabilities and large numbers. The accounting perspective previously ignored low probabilities. Now, the law of large numbers is recognized. Thanks to the involvement of actuaries, the way accountants report uncertain events has changed. So not only has the profession been recognized more globally through the IAA; it has also provided opportunities to interact and influence other professions.”

The IAA

The key benefit of the IAA is that it efficiently gathers the perspectives of actuaries from around the world, strengthening the brand of the profession and allowing for more effective collaboration among supranational organizations like the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED), International Social Security Association (ISSA), and International Labour Organization (ILO).

Speaking with one voice is what makes the IAA a powerful, relationship-building mechanism that encourages cross-national organizations to rely on the profession as opposed to looking elsewhere.

Micheline’s pride in the CIA’s long history of involvement in the IAA is unwavering and for this, she credits former CIA and IAA (1995–1996) President Paul McCrossan. “Paul had the foresight to understand that we are stronger together than apart, which led to the IAA’s current structure as an association of associations,” explains Micheline. She also remembers another former CIA President, Jacques Lafrance, whom, during animated and opposing views at IAA Council discussions about the strategic direction of the IAA, would assert that “the IAA was, in fact, the sum of many parts – serving all of its members rather than serving any one member.” It is these values alongside the proven belief that the CIA’s contributions to the IAA are grounded in the public interest, rather than its own needs, that continue to inspire Micheline’s work.

It is immensely valuable for the CIA to acknowledge the perspectives and the context of other actuarial associations and the IAA is the perfect conduit for that. It allows the CIA to share its views and influence the direction of the profession. These contributions help strengthen the worldwide recognition of actuaries which in turn benefits all actuaries, including Canadians.

The leadership journey continues

In 2016 Micheline was appointed by the CIA Board to be the Institute’s first international ambassador. In that role, she served the Institute by participating in bilateral meetings with organizations worldwide, a constant that helped CIA leadership navigate international matters for five years.

For Micheline the question of why she got involved was simple: She was curious, she cared, and she saw the many benefits of international collaboration.

The CIA proudly wishes Micheline well and has great confidence in her appointment as IAA president in 2023 – the profession will benefit from her sound leadership. But it isn’t just the CIA that looks forward to having Micheline at the helm. IAA President Roseanne Harris, says:

The IAA is truly grateful to Micheline for her active involvement with the IAA, the numerous IAA leadership roles assumed since 2013, and the tremendous contribution made to the global actuarial profession. Her excellent leadership and guidance as chair of the IAA Climate Risk Task Force gave rise to publication of a series of valuable IAA papers on climate-related risks over the last two years. These papers have been well received by our supranational stakeholders and paved the way to signing a memorandum of understanding with the Sustainable Insurance Forum of the Financial Stability Institute. It is through the dedication and enthusiasm of exemplary volunteers such as Micheline that the IAA continues to advance the status of the actuarial profession worldwide.

Our profession regularly faces new challenges, whether it’s the ever-evolving face of a pandemic, climate-related risks, accounting standards, or data science. Take Micheline’s advice and get involved, either with CIA initiatives or in our international opportunities. You’ll be richly rewarded for your efforts.

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