The IAA’s President reflects on the profession’s evolution and opportunities

By Micheline Dionne, FCIA and President of the International Actuarial Association (IAA)

The CIA takes great pride in its continuous collaboration with the IAA, actively supporting and amplifying the endeavours of the IAA and highlighting its President’s contributions. This partnership aims to advance the global actuarial profession.

We invite you to join the IAA’s upcoming webinar in recognition of International Actuaries Day, “The Actuarial Planet — Extending our Wings,” on Friday, September 1 at 07:00 ET.

On September 2, the CIA and the IAA are celebrating International Actuaries Day.

This observance marks a significant historical milestone. The International Congress of Actuaries (ICA) held their inaugural meeting on September 2, 1895, in Brussels. Consequently, September 2 stands as a significant moment in history for the global profession as the first identifiable moment in which actuaries from across the world united. It also stands as the moment that established the foundational principles for the profession’s current incarnation.

The ICA celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2020 and, to mark the occasion, the IAA formalized the date of September 2 as International Actuaries Day.

Micheline Dionne, FCIA

Since then, the IAA has taken the opportunity to celebrate this anniversary with a webinar. This year, our celebration webinar will focus on exploring new territories by encouraging actuaries to extend their wings and explore new horizons.

The profession has changed significantly since 1895. For example, the number of recognized actuarial associations across all continents has grown drastically. Presently, we have 73 full member associations and 26 associate member associations – much more than the total of four that were in existence in 1895 (those four being the UK, Scotland, the Netherlands and France).

Beyond expanding geographically, we have also entered new fields of expertise. When I got my Fellowship, we only had the options of choosing between life insurance, P&C or pensions – and even P&C was for the brave ones. We are now involved in investments, in banking, and we have become more sophisticated in projecting mortality. We hear about evolving risks on a daily basis: climate, sustainability, the potential and risks of artificial intelligence. These reminders underscore our fiduciary role in shaping the future of our planet and ensuring the well-being of humanity.

Not so long ago, I heard concerns that the future of the profession was limited. I believe the number of options available to us depend on whether we are willing to open our eyes to the various opportunities around us. There has never been such a need to understand risks around us and look for ways to make the best of it, that is, to protect our world and make it a better place. Our unique training as actuaries has taught us to look risk directly in the eye.

This year’s celebration of International Actuaries Day in 2023 will feature an exploration into the potential for actuaries in the sectors of banking, artificial intelligence and in using social data to better understand the benefits of insurance. Banking is well implemented in several countries as a career path for actuaries. As such, it is not a new field but one that would benefit from a greater actuarial contribution in Canada.

The second topic that our webinar will tackle is artificial intelligence and how embracing it will change the actuarial profession and provide a mix of both new opportunities as well as new challenges.

The third focal point revolves around the societal and environmental benefits that actuaries can bring. Social data includes information on consumer behaviour, well-being and engagement. As actuaries, we can use this data to the benefit of customers and help shape a better future.

As you may be able to tell from the above, I really enjoy exploring new horizons and I have great faith in the potential of actuaries. That’s why I’ve continued to volunteer over the years, first with the CIA and later with the IAA.

Volunteering has been a source of energy and inspiration – it forces me to stop and think about the larger issues and learn from the other members of my volunteer team. Truly, I think that we all need a balance of day-to-day challenges and ones that lie on new horizons. The newer challenges, more often than we think, can also help address the everyday ones. I feel privileged to have been able to participate in so many committees of both the CIA and the IAA.

As the current President of the IAA and as a Past President of the CIA, what I appreciate the most about my position is being able to promote what we can do as actuaries to address the risks that humanity faces and share that we have a role to play in advising decision makers in the international sphere who sometimes don’t even realize that we can help.

Micheline Dionne, FCIA

I am looking forward to hearing from our three speakers and hope that you’ll join us on Friday, September 1. Those who can’t attend can watch a recording of the webinar on the IAA’s YouTube channel after the event.

Micheline Dionne is a Canadian actuary and the current President of the International Actuarial Association. Previously, Micheline held the presidency at the Canadian Institute of Actuaries between 2010 and 2011. She was recognized in 2015 with the CIA President’s Award for her substantial contributions to the profession.

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

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