Beyond Australia’s borders – three ways to get involved in the IAA

The IAA Sections are open to any individual in the actuarial profession – even aspiring students – but many actuaries are not aware of the benefits of joining. Rein Van Rooyen outlines the benefits of getting involved in your global profession.

The International Actuarial Association (IAA) is a unique international organisation dedicated to the development of the global actuarial profession, that is acknowledged as technically competent and professionally reliable, which ensures the public interest is served.[1]

Its mission is to promote the role of actuaries, expand research and challenge education standards to ensure the profession remains relevant and recognised in the international domain.

“The world is becoming more interconnected and actuaries should embrace ‘light bulb’ moments in global research and development to accelerate their own contributions to solve industry and societal challenges locally.”

IAA’s global vision for the profession

The IAA’s was founded in 1895 and significantly reformed in 1998 with a new constitution. Its vision for the profession is:

“to be recognised worldwide as a major player in the decision-making process within financial services, social protection and in the management of risk, contributing to the well-being of society as a whole.”[2]

Actuaries from across the globe have volunteered their time and efforts to help build this vision into a reality.

The IAA governance structure contains various Committees with specific terms of reference to help drive and deliver the overall strategy. The Education Committee[3] for example, is tasked with the development and enhancement of Actuarial Education globally. 

IAA Past Presidents[4] include Australia’s very own Fred Rowley (2015) and Catherine Prime (2000).  The Actuaries Institute also has an International Committee which sends representatives to IAA meetings. You can watch it’s 2018-19 video update here.

“The actuarial profession is a global one, yet we often pay limited attention to what actuaries are doing outside Australia.”

Becoming President of the IAA or serving on the International Committee might not be for everyone, so what other opportunities are there to get involved?

1. Find your practice area ‘Section’

There are specialised Sections with various categories of members to encourage actuarial research and development in particular areas of practice[5]. Currently there are seven Sections, namely:

  • Actuarial Approach for Financial Risks (AFIR/ERM);
  • Actuarial Studies in Non-Life Insurance (ASTIN);
  • Actuaries Without Borders (AWB);
  • IAA Health Section (IAAHS);
  • IAA Life Section (IAALS);
  • International Association of Consulting Actuaries (IACA); and
  • Pensions, Benefits and Social Security Section (PBSS).

Each section has its own role in delivering the IAA’s vision and strategy, and getting involved is as easy as getting involved in organising or attending:

  • The Annual Colloquia;
  • Local Seminars on specific current topics;
  • The ASTIN Bulletin — The Journal of the IAA; and
  • Web exchanges and webcasts which creates interactive forums to network and share knowledge.

Joining an IAA Section is a simple online registration process[6].  Once registered, the (very modest) annual membership fees can be paid through the local Actuaries Institute renewal process.

Once you’re a member, you can participate in and access the research, events, webinars and thought leadership library that is only available to members of the Section.

One might ask, apart from volunteering your time and building your network, what other benefits are there?

2. Tap into cutting-edge thought leadership

The IAA’s forums and events provide a platform for discussing technical and public policy issues, with an emphasis on how to best leverage the international character of its membership. The resulting network provides the perfect “incubator” to develop, challenge and validate thought leadership.

An example of this is the Pensions, Benefits and Social Security Section (PBSS).

Not only do PBSS members generate research, they act as catalysts for building the intellectual capital of the profession. This diverse Section also encourages non-actuaries with a public policy and research interest in social protection matters to join the PBSS and participate in its activities, thus enriching the Section’s discussions and deliberations. PBSS members receive on a monthly basis a reference list of papers that have been recently published in diverse aspects of pensions and social security.[8]

Topics which currently seem too challenging to develop in practice are researched, debated and validated through the PBSS.

An example of such a topic is individualising Defined Contribution (DC) investment strategies to best meet the individual’s outcome. This has been presented and debated for several years – Australia’s most recent Productivity Commission[9] inquiry even grappled with what represents global best practice when considering default investment strategy approaches. The PBSS has already recognised and promoted that well designed life-cycle strategies are far superior than one-size fits all solutions. 

The PBSS has an electronic library of content on these matters and its next Colloquium in April[10] will expand on research to date.

Similarly, the other Sections undertake activities to develop and promote global best practice and break new ground where actuaries have an influence.

Keep an eye on the Institute’s Weekly Bulletin for regular IAA Section news and interesting links to webinars and research papers. You can subscribe to this in your ‘My Dashboard’ > Newsletter preferences on the Institute’s website.

3. Attend ICA: The ‘Actuarial Olympics’

The International Congress of Actuaries (ICA) is an outflow of the IAA initiatives and is often referred to as the Actuarial Olympics[11].  It is held every four years in a different location across the globe and it was last held in Australia in 1984.

The next ICA is to be held Down Under from 4 – 7 April 2022 in Sydney[12].  This will provide another excellent opportunity to expand your network, learn from others and validate your own research. 

Some themes that will be explored at ICA 2022 include:

  • Exponential growth in Asia – managing rapid development
  • Consequences of new technologies and how they could disrupt and revolutionise current markets and business models
  • Consequences of changing expectations and needs of consumers


Get involved and join the IAA in whatever shape or form you believe would benefit you most!


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