Did you know? Top six education system FAQs

Written by
Alicia Rollo, CHRL, Director, Education and International Affairs
Canadian Institute of Actuaries

Feb 24, 2020

Feb 24, 2020 • by Alicia Rollo, CHRL, Director, Education and International Affairs

The CIA’s hybrid education system leverages 11 outstanding universities in Canada, education and examinations offered by our valued education partners – the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries – mutual recognition agreements with other actuarial bodies, and our own educational offerings, to provide candidates and members with flexible options towards achieving the ACIA and FCIA credentials.

Providing this flexibility, particularly through offerings of other actuarial organizations, requires us to continually monitor the environment to ensure that our systems remain compatible and that candidates are treated equitably. We update the CIA education syllabus every two years and evaluate how it is covered to ensure that we evolve with the needs of stakeholders.

In 2020, the Education and Qualification Council (formerly the Eligibility and Education Council) will conduct outreach activities as part of our improvement process, and we hope that you will provide your valuable input. Please watch for more on this in the coming months.

For now, since our education system does change over time and you may not be aware of how it could apply to you or to candidates in your workplace, here are six of the most frequently asked questions we receive:

1. Do I need to hold an actuarial credential from the CAS or SOA to become ACIA or FCIA?

No. Although some exams, courses, and modules are common, there is no requirement to hold another actuarial credential in order to become a member of the CIA, except via the mutual recognition agreement route. 

It is true that in the past, the CIA required candidates to hold an ASA, ACAS, FSA, or FCAS before applying for membership in the CIA; however, since the CIA education syllabus was introduced in 2015, this is no longer the case.

2. If I obtained my ACIA or FCIA designation under the old rules that required me to hold another actuarial credential, do I need to maintain it in order to maintain my CIA designation?

No. The CIA has never required members to maintain another credential in order to maintain the ACIA or FCIA, even if that credential was used initially to become a member of the CIA.

3. With what other actuarial organizations does the CIA have mutual recognition agreements, and what does that mean?

The CIA has mutual recognition agreements with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (United Kingdom), the Society of Actuaries of Ireland, the Actuaries Institute of Australia, and the Actuarial Society of South Africa. This means that the CIA has evaluated the qualification systems (and vice-versa) and that recognition is given for a core set of examinations, courses, and modules, leading to Associate or Fellow membership. The CIA still requires candidates through mutual recognition agreements to attend the Professionalism Workshop, Practice Education Course, and to have the requisite professional and Canadian experience.

4. What is the Practice Education Course now that there is no exam?

In 2018, the examination was removed from the PEC, given that the SOA education system was assessed to meet CIA syllabus requirements for Canadian content in all tracks. Some group benefits candidates must still write a CIA exam, depending on when they completed their SOA studies. Candidates should check the CIA website for these details.

In 2019, a property and casualty (P&C) track was added, and PEC is now a requirement for all candidates, in all tracks, pursuing the FCIA designation. 

True to its name, the PEC now focusses on practice-specific education. In workshop format, candidates can discuss the practical application of the technical skills they have learned throughout the examination process to the real world. Senior CIA members and industry experts lead discussions with candidates that help prepare them for the responsibilities of Fellowship, both as technical experts, and as professionals with strong communications and business acumen.

The PEC is a modern course which leverages current technology and world-class presenters to engage candidates and make for a rich and rewarding experience. It is offered twice per year, in June and December. Registration for the June PEC will open shortly.

5. As a property and casualty candidate, how do I get credit from the CAS for professionalism through the CIA education system? What happened to the CAS Course on Professionalism (COP) in Canada and why the change?

The CAS recognizes the combination of the CIA Professionalism Workshop and PEC as equivalent to the former CAS Course on Professionalism in Canada. The last Canadian COP was offered in December 2018, and candidates had until December 2019 to use the US version in lieu.  

The change was made to ensure that all candidates for FCIA were equally prepared for practice in Canada. At the ACIA level this happens through the Professionalism Workshop; at the FCIA level it is PEC. One of the key reasons for the change was that P&C candidates were not fully aware of CIA qualification requirements until later in the process, as they had not been exposed to the CIA. This became a disadvantage for them when trying to complete the experience requirements. The current system ensures that all candidates are aware of the requirements early and can prepare their education and qualification path accordingly.

6. Why do some employers still encourage candidates in the University Accreditation Program to write preliminary examinations?

We are aware that even after six years of success with the UAP, some employers still prefer preliminary examinations as a selection tool when hiring candidates, despite the excellence that UAP credits represent.

We expect the reason is that these hiring managers wrote the exams and therefore they are familiar with them in terms of the achievement that they represent. We have been working hard to ensure that all employers understand the UAP and its advantages for both candidates and employers.

For candidates, UAP avoids the duplication of writing both university exams and professional exams, and for employers, it saves study time and examination fees. It is a win-win scenario. 

Many employers have already integrated UAP into their internal hiring, education, and reward programs, and we hope that others will follow.

The CIA education team is always here to assist employers and candidates in navigating the education and qualification process. Please reach out to us any time:

Alicia Rollo, CHRL, is Director, Education and International Affairs, at the CIA.

Canadian Institute of Actuaries