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Enterprising Risk Manager

Enterprising Risk Manager

by Sam Phillips

Craig Raymond, FSA, MAAA joined The Hartford in 1985 and was elected associate actuary in 1986. After a year at the actuarial consulting firm of Tillinghast/Towers Perrin, he returned to Hartford Life as actuary in the Employee Benefits Division. In 1990, he moved to the Individual Life and Annuities Division and in 1991 was named its actuarial director. He was elected vice president in 1993 and promoted to senior vice president in 1996.

Raymond now leads The Hartford's new Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) function as SVP and chief risk officer (CRO). Raymond has served as chief actuary of Hartford Life since 1994. He directs the effort to enhance The Hartford's risk management functions, which includes partnering with key line executives and chairing a new enterprise risk committee. In addition, Raymond heads strategic development and mergers and acquisitions.

Raymond, a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, recently answered a few questions about his interesting career path.

What inspired you to enter the employment field you are currently in? In my previous role as chief actuary of Hartford Life, I was responsible for overseeing the risk management processes within our life operations. As we worked to define what Enterprise Risk Management would mean at The Hartford, it became clear to me and to others that this was the perfect position for me to step into. This new chief risk officer (CRO) role expands my involvement to all of Hartford's operations–life, property and casualty and investments. I saw it as both a fantastic learning opportunity and a chance to break new ground and have a major positive impact on our business. The combination was irresistible.

What are the major differences in the position you have now compared to a traditional actuarial role? In a traditional role, you work mostly with other actuaries, so normally the communications challenge is to translate technical work to non-actuaries. As CRO, I work with a wide range of risk, finance and investment professionals who have varied backgrounds and training. This multiplies the communication challenges found in more traditional roles. Also, in a traditional role, you're generally given the benefit of the doubt as the expert in your area, but that doesn't automatically follow in a non-traditional actuarial role. Although I see my actuarial background and expertise as directly relevant to most of what I do, I can't expect everyone to automatically accept that.

How did you prepare yourself for the new challenges you face in your current position? I strongly believe that my actuarial training and the positions I've had were ideal preparation for this role. As I am still new in this role and really in the process of creating it, I'm still preparing for it–doing a lot of reading and networking. I want to understand how ERM is being applied in other companies and other industries, and how the CRO role can make a big impact on a business. I also want to gain a much better understanding of the non-life insurance parts of our business. All of this will help me do a better job.

Do you think chief risk officer is a position more actuaries will be obtaining? With their unique analytical skills and training, actuaries should be fantastic candidates for CRO jobs. To be successful, individuals will need to possess strong skills in communications and in influencing decisions and people.

What are some of your greatest career-related accomplishments? Passing my final actuarial exam, being elected vice president of the Society of Actuaries, being named chief actuary of HL, being named corporate risk officer of The Hartford–these are all milestones in my career that make me very proud. I'd have to say, though, my greatest accomplishment is being a key part of turning Hartford Life, a mid-sized life company when I started here 20 years ago, into one of the largest and most successful in the industry.

What has been the secret to your success? I'd say three things are key. I have had the great fortune of working for and with a wide range of exceptionally motivated and talented people. I learned early in my career that communication and interpersonal skills were essential to success and that I had to learn and work at them. Lastly, I have accepted that no one can be good at everything, and have surrounded myself with great people who have strengths that complement mine.

What career-enhancing advice would you give to other actuaries? Learn how to interact and communicate with everyone, not just other actuaries. Take control of your career. Opportunities may fall in your lap, but they also can be created by being prepared and seeking them out. Don't be afraid to take some chances–if you get too comfortable, you're probably not challenging yourself.

What are your career goals for the future? I have a lot to learn and many challenges in my new role. I'm excited to be learning about new businesses and some new aspects of the business with which I'm familiar. Over the years, I've been involved in all aspects of the financial operations of companies; I'd like to bring this together as a chief financial officer at some point.

What is your best "on the job" memory? The moments I find most memorable are those where I've seen that I've had a positive impact on someone. Over the years I have been involved with the hiring and development of a lot of talented people. I've taken great satisfaction in watching their growth and success. Every once in a while, someone reminds me of a piece of advice I'd given them years ago and thanks me for the impact it had on them.

My single best memory, though, was when I had the chance to see the impact we can have on policyholders. In the mid-90s, I led our acquisitions of blocks of business from two insolvent companies. We worked with regulators and guarantee funds to make sure the policyholders and employees of these companies were treated fairly and that the policyholder's savings were restored. During this process, I had the unique opportunity to meet and talk directly with many policyholders and to see the emotional and monetary value that we were adding in restoring their financial security. One policyholder still sends us a Christmas card and a thank you every year.

If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same career path? Absolutely, although I haven't always made the right choices, I've learned a great deal from everything I've done. I was attracted to the actuarial profession because I believed it would open a wide range of opportunities and I haven't been disappointed.

Is there anything you'd like to say that you weren't asked about? I'd like to advise young actuaries to carefully choose the company at which they work. They're going to be spending a lot of time and effort at their job, and they need to find a company that values their skills and is willing to support their need to continually learn and grow. That will make for a happier work experience and a more successful career.

The knowledge and skills of actuaries are applicable to so many different aspects of the insurance world. Identify wherever you want to be, then go after it.

Craig Raymond can be contacted at:

Sam Phillips is associate editor at the Society of Actuaries and can be reached at: