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Conference Chairman

Dr. K. (Ravi) Ravindran
Annuity Systems Inc. (ASI)

Dr. K. (Ravi) Ravindran currently spends much of his time lecturing, selectively consulting on VA-related issues and running a private equity fund. He also holds a visiting appointment in Haskolinn Reykjavik (Iceland) and National University of Singapore (Singapore). He is the author of the book titled The Mathematics of Financial Models.

As a pioneer to apply derivatives-based hedging techniques to manage market risks embedded in VAs, Ravindran’s experience includes:

  • Developing equity-based guarantee products and managing more than $100 billion in account value for insurance companies selling these products;
  • Running exotic derivatives desk globally at Toronto Dominion Bank;
  • Manning the CEO position at RGA Financial Products (a subsidiary of Reinsurance Group of America);
  • Holding past adjunct professorships at several prominent universities.
  • Co-editing the well-received book titled VA: A Global Perspective;
  • Authoring the well-received book titled Customized Derivatives: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Exotic Options, Swaps and Other Customized Derivatives;
  • Serving as an associate editor of the well-received book titled Handbook of Derivatives; and
  • Editing/authoring papers of which some have formed, and continue to form, part of the professional exams in various societies.

Moderator and Presenter

Frank Zhang, FSA, CFA, FRM, MSCF, PRM
Vice President, Global Pricing and Valuation Oversight, Global Risk Management

Frank Zhang is a Vice President at MetLife’s Global Risk Management providing complex product oversight. He previously worked at a few industry large insurers, consulting and investment banking firms in various hedging, ALM, risk management, pricing, valuation and derivatives solutions for complex insurance products. Zhang has a degree in financial engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.


Dariush Akhtari
Senior Director, Business Development Officer–Insurance Enterprise Risk Solution
Moody’s Analytics

Dariush Akhtari is senior director, business development officer in the insurance enterprise risk solution at Moody’s Analytics (MA). He is responsible for building business partnership and branding MA's value propositions with senior insurance executives in North America to enhance MA’s solution offering. He has over 30 years of experience in risk and actuarial and has served on a variety of leadership roles in consulting and insurance organizations in both U.S. and Canada, including CRO at Sun Life Financial–U.S., where he oversaw all aspects of the company’s industry-leading risk management program and was one of the founding members of its economic capital framework, and managing director and head of asset-liability management (ALM) at AIG. Currently, he is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University lecturing on ALM.

Akhtari’s areas of expertise include ALM, economic capital, risk management, and actuarial modeling. He was a pioneer of least square Monte Carlo (LSMC) and a key contributor to the OSFI working group for determining capital regime for Variable Annuity. Throughout his career Akhtari has been interested in the challenge of problem solving and developing innovative solutions in emerging areas of practice.


Axel André
Chief Risk Officer, Institutional Markets and Individual and Group Retirement AIG Chief Market Risk Officer

Axel André serves as chief risk officer, institutional markets and Individual and group retirement, as well as AIG chief market risk officer. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing all aspects of risk management for retirement income solutions, fixed annuities, group retirement and institutional markets businesses, providing both strategic and tactical risk management leadership. In addition, he is responsible for overseeing all market risks for AIG firm-wide. André joined AIG in August of 2013.

Prior to joining AIG, André served as managing director, global insurance strategies for Goldman Sachs & Co., investment management division, where he led a team of actuaries and quantitative analysts providing strategic asset allocation, asset-liability management, risk advisory and analytics services to insurance companies globally. He began his career in the financial institutions risk management group within the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs & Co. where he led the development of insurance analytics, implementing models for variable annuities, fixed-deferred annuities and other general account life insurance products, and advised insurance companies on hedging strategies and risk management. André earned a doctorate and master’s degree in physics from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Imperial College, University of London.

Simpa Baiye, FSA, MAAA, CFA
Director, Actuarial Services

Simpa Baiye, FSA, MAAA, CFA, is a director with PwC's actuarial services practice in New York and has over 16 years of experience in the annuity industry. His experience includes product development, asset-liability management, financial reporting, and derivatives structuring.

Baiye has served as a member of the Academy of Actuaries Invested Asset working group and is the incoming vice-chairperson of the SOA Financial Reporting Section Council. He is a Fellow of the SOA and a Charterholder of the CFA institute. He holds a master’s degree in actuarial science from the University of Waterloo.

Sebastian Lutz
Head of North America Equity Derivatives Institutional Sales

Since 2015, Lutz has been responsible for Commerzbank’s equity derivatives institutional sales team in North America. Based in New York, the business focuses on servicing the bank’s institutional clients with a strong emphasis on the insurance sector. Previously, Lutz spent 10 years in the bank in various institutional and retail sales roles in Frankfurt, Zürich and New York. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in finance from Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

Varun Mahajan
Head of Product Engineering (London), Equity Markets & Commodities

Varun Mahajan runs the product engineering team at Commerzbank in London. The team is responsible for designing and promoting equity and hybrid structured products to different clients including distributors, wealth managers and insurers. The team also develops and maintains Commerzbank’s range of equity and multi-asset proprietary indices.

Mahajan has more than 10 years of experience in the equity derivatives industry. Prior to joining Commerzbank, he worked in equity structured products trading at Lehman Brothers.

Timothy Paris, FSA, MAAA
Chief Executive Officer
Ruark Consulting LLC

Tim Paris, FSA, MAAA, is chief executive officer at Ruark Consulting LLC, which aims to be the platform and industry benchmark for principles-based insurance data analytics and risk management.

Fueled by data contributed each year from companies currently comprising approximately 70 percent of the variable and fixed indexed annuity markets, Ruark’s industry experience studies and behavioral analytics provide actionable quantitative insights into complex and interrelated behavioral factors such as surrenders, partial withdrawals, annuitizations, and mortality, based on a combination of expert judgment and advanced analytics such as predictive modeling techniques. As a reinsurance broker, Ruark has placed and continues to administer dozens of bespoke treaties totaling over $1.5 billion of reinsurance premium and $30 billion of account value, and also offers reinsurance audit and administration services.

Peter M. Phillips
President & CEO
Pathwise Solutions Group at Aon Benfield

Peter Phillips has over 25 years of derivative trading, modeling and risk management experience in the banking and insurance industries and is founder, president and CEO of the PathWise Solutions Group at Aon Benfield.

The PathWise Solutions Group provides clients with consulting services and specialized software to manage complex life insurance and financial risks, along with related investment advisory services through its registered portfolio and commodity trading manager. PathWise software is an award winning enterprise high performance computing business solution to model, price, value, manage and report on the risks embedded in life insurance retirement products.

Peter obtained an honors MBA from the University of Chicago, and a Master of Science in finance from the London School of Economics, as well an honors bachelor of commerce and economics from the University of Toronto. He currently holds Series 7, 24, 66, 79 and 4 registrations with Aon Securities, Inc. and is registered as a commodity trader manager in Ontario and a portfolio manager in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia in Canada and has CIM designation.