March 2017

From The Editor

Carlos Fuentes By Carlos Fuentes

This issue is about innovation and entrepreneurship. A first step to discuss innovation could be to reflect on what can kill it. I wonder how many companies really avoid innovation killers and foster an environment conducive to the generation of new ideas. Certainly, Wall Street thinks that some InsureTech companies do that.

Six actuaries talk about entrepreneurship. They don’t discuss theoretical ideas, but instead talk about what they have learned by doing. The section believes that practical knowledge is important, so much so that it intends to interview more entrepreneurs and innovators and make these interviews available to its members in podcasts and as edited articles.

  • Innovation Killers—Innovation is one of those terms that is at risk of becoming meaningless because many people talk about it without much specificity. In describing what can kill innovation, Ken Lizotte brings the point home but he doesn’t stop there: he also describes a process to generate ideas. Is the culture of insurance companies moving in the direction of the ideas that Ken proposes?
  • InsureTech—Bill Rearden talks about recent events in InsureTech—the space occupied by insurance start-ups that use new technologies. InsureTech is important because it could generate innovation in the insurance field. Wall Street seems to think this way.
  • Actuaries in the C-Suite—This article is an edited transcription of an interactive session between three actuarial entrepreneurs: Michael Smith, CFO of Voya Financial; Laura Bennett, co-founder and CEO of Embrace Pet Insurance; and Jason Alleyne, co-founder and COO of Besurance Corporation. The session was co-sponsored by various sections of the SOA during the 2016 Life & Annuity Symposium. In it, the panelist share their points of view about entrepreneurship, corporate leadership and the actuarial profession.   
  • Interview to Nicholas Yeo—This interview first appeared in the November 2015 issue of The Malaysian Actuary, the newsletter of the Actuarial Society of Malaysia. Nicholas, an actuarial entrepreneur, talks about the strengths of the actuarial profession, the actuarial profession in Malaysia, his experience as an actuarial student, and much more. Nicholas’ views would certainly intrigue many of our readers.
  • Interview with Stephen Camilli—The Innovation & Entrepreneurial Section has started the “Innovators and Entrepreneurs” series of interviews of actuaries that have chosen an unusual professional path. In this article, Stephen Camilli talks about his career that started as an actuarial assistant at Hewitt Associates and led him to become president of Actex Publications. Much happened along the way—high school teacher, partner in a tea importation company, founder of the Buenos Aires food bank, literary agent. Stephen explains how everything connects. He also talks about the actuarial education system and the non-actuarial skills he developed in non-actuarial roles. The full interview is a 15-minute podcast that can be found in the website of the I&E Section.
  • Interview with Carlos Fuentes—This is the second interview in the “Innovators and Entrepreneurs” series. Yours truly, president of Axiom Actuarial Consulting, reflect about the reasons behind the lack of representation of Hispanic and African American actuaries, talk about my decision to obtain an MBA and share my points of view on entrepreneurism.

We are always interested in learning what our readers think and what kind of articles they find useful. We are also looking for entrepreneurs and innovators that want to share with our readers the knowledge they have acquired by doing. Please contact us with your thoughts.

Carlos Fuentes, FSA, FCA, MAAA, MS, MBA, is president of actuarial consulting. His professional interests include strategy, public policy and entrepreneurship. He can be reached at