What does it mean for actuaries to act in the public interest?

By Hélène Pouliot, FCIA, CIA President-Elect

The CIA is guided by a set of principles. The first, in both order and importance, states: “In carrying out its activities and programs, the Institute holds the duty of the profession to the public above the needs of the profession and its members.”

This has been an area of much discussion for members and stakeholders. What duty does the profession hold to the public? How do we define the notion of public interest? How do actuaries fulfill their obligation to the public?

The CIA Board decided to examine such questions more carefully, and a Statement on the duty that the CIA holds to the public was approved to elaborate on the issue.

The statement outlines the public’s expectations towards the actuarial profession and how the CIA incorporates measures and methods into its functions to protect the public in multiple ways. One essential function of the CIA is to ensure that holders of an FCIA or ACIA are highly skilled, and that their abilities are kept up to date throughout their career, which we achieve by:

  • establishing thorough and rigorous education and qualification processes;
  • requiring continuing professional development; and
  • providing high-quality learning and professional development opportunities.

Another key function of the CIA is to contribute to development and innovation within actuarial science and related fields, ensuring that actuaries are fully informed, by:

  • developing guidance and educational notes to inform best practices; and
  • undertaking unique and relevant research activities.

These key functions of the Institute show our commitment to ensuring actuaries are highly skilled and well-informed professionals. However, the CIA makes a further promise: that actuaries will act with integrity, bringing objectivity and sound professional judgment to their work, by

  • establishing Rules of Professional Conduct;
  • maintaining up-to-date Standards of Practice; and
  • enforcing requirements through a disciplinary process, when needed.

What does it mean, then, to act in the public interest? It means being highly qualified and skilled, well-informed, and, above all, providing actuarial services and advice with objectivity and sound professional judgment.

The CIA holds its duty to the public by bringing together the education, guidance, rules, and awareness that the profession needs to be accountable, trustworthy, and reliable as we contribute to public discussions in the interest of Canadians.

Thank you to CIA Board members Claude Ferguson, Michel St-Germain, and Ashley Witts, and CIA Executive Director Michel Simard, for their work on the statement.

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