by Kevin Pledge
The Entrepreneurial Actuaries Section has sponsored sessions on starting a business. We are following up on these past sessions with a series of interviews with entrepreneurs who discuss their business experiences.
Chris Hause was on the panel of the session we sponsored at the recently held Life & Annuity Symposium, and kindly volunteered to follow up with this interview.
Chris, please explain how you started Hause Actuarial.
I was with Buchanan & Associates, an actuarial consulting firm which has a great history of innovation and service to the industry. I became managing partner there in December of 1996, taking on that role to lend new energy and direction to the consulting practice and to continue that history of innovation and service. In 2001, I formed Hause Actuarial Solutions (HAS) in anticipation of purchasing Buchanan & Associates. The first asset that HAS acquired in early 2001 was a suite of actuarial software that had been partially converted from DOS to Windows.
On Jan. 1, 2002, the purchase was complete and HAS was off and running. Our main emphasis was life and annuity product development, valuation, software and credit insurance. We have grown to the point where we now have 10 employees, with two people working remotely and eight in our Overland Park, Kan., office.
What was your main motivation for starting a business?
I wanted to set my own direction, and to pursue clients, products and business that provide an opportunity for service, personal growth and a contribution to the industry and actuarial profession. I also wanted to help others pursue their own direction in a positive and professional environment. I do not know that I have always achieved all of this, but it’s what we continue to strive for.
Were there any significant turning points for your business?
The turning points of my business have generally revolved around strategic hiring. When you have a relatively small staff, each person who walks in the door has a set of unique talents and background that provide new direction and opportunity to have an immediate impact. I have been truly fortunate in building my current staff of dedicated and talented people, who are (by a stroke of luck) also a lot of fun to be around.
Are there any key lessons you have learned along the way?
I have a few lessons that I have learned over the years. Those lessons fall into three general categories:
- If you’re going to do something, commit to it. Every project carries the signature of not only the person who completed it, but the reputation of the firm. As you prepare to communicate, whether it is a report on a big, important project or a simple email, ask yourself, “Is it right, is it clear, and does it answer the important questions?”
- Believe in the people around you. It is amazing what a few talented people can do if you give them a job to do, lend guidance where needed, and otherwise get out of their way. Be available but don’t hover over their shoulder. You hired them for their talent and initiative, so let them exercise it.
- Keep things in perspective. Everything is important, which includes sitting at your dining room table every night. So, drop your pencil, go have dinner with them and enjoy the company of friends and family. The work will still be there tomorrow.
Are you an actuarial entrepreneur? Please contact me as we are looking for more stories like this and for speakers at upcoming meetings. Kevin Pledge: email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 416.949.8920.
Chris Hause, FSA, MAAA, co-founder of Hause Actuarial Solutions
Kevin Pledge, FSA, FIA, is CEO and co-founder of Insight Decision Solutions in Markham, Ontario, Canada, and chair of the Entrepreneurial Actuaries Section. He may be reached at email@example.com.