‘Indian actuaries should be seen competent globally’

Spearheading the Sahara Groups' life insurance foray, Mr. Liyaquat Khan must be the first president of Actuarial Society of India (ASI) to face the wrath of fellow members. And he is unfazed about the opposition.

Shuttling between Lucknow-Mumbai-Delhi, Mr. Khan recently signed a mutual recognition agreement with the Institute of Actuaries, UK.

"The actuarial profession in India is at a point of history as it has to come to the expectations of the government, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and the public at large in the context of opening of the insurance sector," he remarks.

According to him, though ASI started its examinations in 1989, it structured its education and examination system since November 2000 so as to prepare actuaries who are competent in the global context.

Defending the contentious issue of Certificate of Practice (COP) and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and refuting allegations against the COP committee, Mr. Khan says, "The requirement of COP and CPD are key strength of the profession across the world. The following are the excerpts of an interview he gave to domain-b.com:

domain-b: Actuaries feel that ASI should request IRDA to scrap the condition that requires a person to obtain a COP from ASI for becoming eligible to be an appointed actuary. They feel it is highly discriminatory in nature. What do you feel?

Mr. Liyaquat Khan: All insurance regulators and actuarial professional bodies across the world have the system of a COP and CPD. This is the key to success of the system of an appointed actuary. Examples are UK, Australia, Canada and many other countries. USA too has a similar system. I would not comment as to the requirement of professional bodies other than actuarial since the issue here is the requirements of a COP / CPD for actuaries, which is unique to actuarial profession and regulatory role of the actuary.

domain-b: It is alleged that such a condition is more in favour of foreign actuaries.

Mr. Khan: ASI, at the latest count, has 221 fellow members, 122 associate members and about 600 student members. As per IRDA's regulations, an appointed actuary has to be a fellow member of ASI, besides being a resident in India. ASI issues a COP to those fellow members who satisfy the criterion laid down by it. However, as and when such
fellow members take up the responsibility of an appointed actuary, the IRDA would require them to be a resident of India.

domain-b: Actuaries also feel that the conditions laid down by ASI are not practical and designed to reject a majority of domestic actuaries. There is demand to issue a COP as a matter of routine to all fellow members subject to certain conditions. Your comments.

Mr.Khan: The condition laid down for the issuance of a COP has been adopted by ASI after due process in accordance with ASI rules and are uniformly applicable to all fellow members. The conditions are designed to ensure that only competent and skilled actuaries' work as appointed actuaries.

domain-b: It is said that ASI's COP committee had asked some of the applicants to withdraw their applications. Why?

Mr. Khan: Applications for a COP are processed by a committee consisting of the current president, the immediate past president and the current vice president of ASI. This committee has the mandate given to it by the executive committee to interact with an applicant and during such an interaction, if the applicant desires to withdraw the application, he is allowed to do so.

domain-b: One of the conditions laid down by ASI for the issuance of a COP is attending seminars by actuaries. These seminars are held in Mumbai/Delhi. Is it possible for actuaries, say living in the south and east, to come to attend the seminars. Is it possible for the unemployed/freshers to spend money for this purpose. Does ASI plan to hold seminars in all the major cities to over come this problem.

Mr.Khan: CPD is the key to maintain capability and competency of members. The requirement is more in relation to an appointed actuary as any failure on his part can damage the financial soundness of the insurer and can compromise the interest of policyholders. The frequency and venue of the CPD programmes is a matter of detail finalised by ASI keeping in view various factors affecting it.

domain-b: Can you give me the number of applications received by ASI for the issuance of a COP. How many applicants have been appointed and how many rejected?

Mr.Khan: On the latest count, five COPs have been issued for general insurance and 15 issued for life insurance.

domain-b: Can you give me a break up of number of foreign and Indian actuaries who have got the COP from ASI till date.

Mr.Khan: A COP is issued to all fellow members of ASI and irrespective of their place of residence. The members of ASI, including students, reside across the world though a majority of them are in India. According to the latest figures, about 60 per cent of the fellow members are residents of India.