GLOBAL - IAS19 standards on pension fund accounting are not a top priority for the IASB at the moment, according to Paul Thornton, head of the International Actuarial Association (IAA).

After meetings of the IAA council and committees in Vienna, Thornton said: "IAS19 is badly in need of reform, but because the IASB has to prioritise resources, it is not very high up on their agenda at the moment. In the meantime, the IAA will focus more on suggestions for improved disclosure."

In an interview on actuarial standards and risk management, Thorton told IPE the actuarial societies had recently agreed to move toward global actuarial standards for the first time.

"So far, we have had guidelines," he said. "But now we will create standards that will initially at least be voluntary and can also be used as model standards in countries that do not have their own standards."

He said the move had been partly triggered by the creation of a new European supervisory authority and the need for actuaries to deal with Solvency II, which is set to become a "European export".

Another trigger was the financial crisis, which has hurt the insurance sector and highlighted the need for additional supervisory regulations and supporting actuarial standards, Thornton said.

Christoph Krischanitz, head of the Austrian actuarial association AVÖ, added that the financial crisis has shifted the role of actuaries closer to that of risk managers.

A standardised qualification for Chartered Enterprise Risk Actuaries or Analysts (CERA) has therefore been created, which Krischanitz welcomed, adding that, in Austria, for example, many actuaries currently lacked sufficient training to fulfil this new role.

Thornton said other service providers in the field of risk management were not subject to similarly strict rules or a code of conduct as actuaries were.

Regarding the financial crisis, he said: "Nobody put the greater picture together, and that was the problem. We had some good ideas during the crisis, like more anti-cyclical regulations for buffers, better cross-border supervision and more macro-prudential coordination."

Thornton said the shift to defined contribution, as well as the question of how to make these systems more efficient and less risky for members, would be a "key topic" for pension supervisors worldwide and something with which the IAA would engage.