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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Obituary: Max Lacroix

Max Lacroix, a distinguished French actuary, died in January 2009, aged 95. Outside of France, Max Lacroix was best known for his contribution on the international actuarial stage. In 1973 he and others had the idea of establishing an organisation to represent all the actuarial associations in the then named European Community. A meeting was held in London in 1975 to take the idea forward and Max Lacroix, then employed in a senior position in the administration of the European Commission, was invited to take the chair. After a second meeting, the Groupe Consultatif was formally established in 1978 with Max Lacroix as its first chairman.

In 1982, Max Lacroix was instrumental in organising the Groupe Consultatif’s first one-day Colloquium in London, bringing together actuaries from all over Europe to discuss and debate a topical issue, and in 1984, he arranged the first in the series of regular informal meetings with the Commission’s Financial Services Directorate, both of which continue to this day.

When Max Lacroix stood down in 1988 after ten years as Chairman of the Groupe, his successor, John Martin, paid tribute to the enormous amount of work Max Lacroix had done for the Groupe, which under his guidance had made steady and valuable progress year by year, most importantly in its relations with the Community’s institutions.

Max Lacroix continued to represent the French association on the Groupe until 1990, and at its Annual Meeting that year the Groupe elected him an Honorary Member and invited him to become Counsel to the Groupe on issues on which it might seek his advice from time to time. Max Lacroix continued his association with the Groupe, attending his last annual meeting in Bilbao in 2000 when in his late 80s.

Max Lacroix always took a great personal interest in promoting education and development opportunities for young actuaries. In September 1991 he was appointed the Council Delegate for the International Actuarial Association (IAA) International Promotion and Education Fund (IPEF) when it was established by the IAA Council. The IPEF was able to grant several bursaries to assist young people from actuarially developing countries to study to become actuaries.

Max Lacroix worked in the UN as a demographer for many years before his time at the European Commission and was responsible for ensuring that the IAA was entered on the Roster of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations Organisation and on the Special List of the International Labour Office. He also regularly attended meetings of the International Social Security Association (ISSA) as the representative of the IAA and always found the opportunity to take the floor to say something about the importance of the actuarial role in social security and the long tradition of links between the IAA and the ISSA.

In April 2001 the IAA awarded Max Lacroix its Medal of Distinction (la Medaille de Distinction de l’Association Actuarielle Internationale) at its meeting in Estoril, Portugal. The citation (www.actuaries.org/COUNCIL/Minutes/Estoril/Item16_EN.pdf) on the IAA’s web site points out that the IAA Medal of Distinction is not awarded idly. It recognizes a significant contribution to the development of the profession through educational activities, promotion of the profession, development of local or regional actuarial activities, representation of the actuarial profession in other bodies, and the like. Notably, Medals of Distinction are awarded following a distinguished career. It goes on to refer to Monsieur Lacroix’s long-time membership in the Association des Actuaires Diplômés de l’ISFA, his membership of the Association Royales des Actuaires Belges, his Fellowship of the Royal Statistical Society, his membership of the Statistical Society of Paris, the American Statistical Society and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population. It also mentions that Max Lacroix had been granted Honorary Fellowship of both the Institute of Actuaries (1980) and the Faculty of Actuaries (1991). It ends by referring to his efforts over a decade in respect of the establishment and financing of the IAA’s IPEF (mentioned above), saying that his initiative in that regard had been of inestimable value in the rebirth of the actuarial profession in Eastern Europe and in Southeast Asia.

A singular distinction that was accorded to Max Lacroix was to be been named Un Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur of France.

Max Lacroix will be remembered by a great many actuaries, most of whom would be able to recount interesting anecdotes relating to the great man. Paul Thornton, Past President of the Institute of Actuaries, recalls that Max Lacroix had a habit of turning up at Council or Committee meetings, whether or not expected, and then delivering some words of wisdom, with considerable elegance, and usually at some length, in a mixture of French and English. Paul has said “Max’s lasting contribution was to get people to realise the power of taking the time to achieve a consensus before seeking to influence the course of European or international events. He certainly set the tone for the Groupe Consultatif.”