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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 visiting appointments in Haskolinn Reykjavik (Iceland) and National University of Singapore (Singapore). Ravindran 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.

Conference Co-Chair

Frank Zhang, CFA, FRM, FSA, MSCF, PRM
Lead Actuary
Brighthouse Financial

Frank Zhang, CFA, FRM, FSA, MSCF, PRM, is Lead Actuary responsible for annuity GAAP/STAT valuation for deferred and payout, variable, fixed, and indexed / structured annuities at Brighthouse Financial.

Prior to joining Brighthouse Financial, Zhang has Sales-and-Trading “Front Office” experience as Director at the Equity Structured Derivatives desk with a global investment bank Societe Generale. He was actuarial financial risk management advisory practice leader at a major consulting firm Ernst & Young as Executive Director. He has extensive insurance industry market risk management, ALM and other actuarial experiences, including senior roles at several major global life insurance companies. Zhang developed, from the ground up, and managed live two large VA/FIA derivatives hedging programs and two general account ALM programs.

He is a frequent industry speaker on ALM, hedging, and risk management topics. He has been the Co-Chair at 2015-2018 Equity-Based Insurance Guarantee conference, an industry flagship event on VA/FIA risk management, and the Chair at Risk Magazine’s “Variable Annuity” seminar in London 2011. Zhang has been an organizing steering committee member for Investment Symposium since 2009 (an “Investment” section flagship event on ALM and investment). He was elected to professional councils of SOA “Investment” and “Joint Risk Management” Sections (2009-2012), and has been an advisory board member at Center for Financial Mathematics and Actuarial Research UC Santa Barbara (since 2014). Zhang is the author of “Manage risks underlying variable annuity liabilities”, a summary chapter in a recent Risk Magazine Book “Non-traditional Life Insurance Products with Guarantees,” published in late 2016.

Zhang has a master’s degree in financial engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, a top-ranking program with multi-disciplinary intensive studies in quantitative derivatives and investments. 


Ilan Birnbaum, FSA, MAAA
Vice President & Actuary

Ilan Birnbaum, FSA, MAAA, is vice president in charge of GAAP valuation of Prudential’s annuities line of business.  His 15 years of experience with annuities includes valuation under GAAP, Stat, and IFRS accounting bases, projections, modeling, data management, experience studies, as well as hedging of variable annuities.

Sheldon Epstein, FSA, MAAA
Chief Actuary and Chief Risk Officer
Agam Capital

Sheldon Epstein, FSA, MAAA, is both chief actuary and chief risk officer at Agam Capital, a reinsurer specializing in insurance product with capital markets exposure. His major responsibilities as a chief actuary include: leading the team performing actuarial valuation, reporting under various jurisdictions and the pricing of reinsurance transactions. As chief risk officer, Epstein’s major responsibilities include: defining and monitoring the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and hedging strategy, internal economic capital measurement and monitoring, establishing governance controls around all aspects of the business and implementing model risk management.

He has over 30 years of broad experience in global financial services spanning insurance, banking, derivatives and systematic hedge fund trading and risk management. Most recently Epstein headed AIG’s Life & Retirement Modeling Team of over 50 professionals responsible for implementing a single consistent valuation/projection and risk management platform. He has worked at several systematic trading hedge funds responsible for research and development teams of quantitative engineers and developers of trading strategy. In the late 1980’s and 1990’s and Epstein began his career working at various investment banks designing and trading customized derivative-based transaction solutions to help financial institutions, particularly insurers and banks to manage their market risk exposures.

Kirk Evans, FSA, MAAA
Vice President
Sammons Financial Group

Kirk Evans, FSA, MAAA, is vice president at Sammons Financial Group, where he is responsible for product development and pricing of variable annuities and mutual fund platforms. Prior to Evans’s current role, he worked with a variety of insurance products including: life insurance, fixed annuities, variable annuities and health insurance in multiple roles. Some of those roles were, systems development, valuation, financial reporting, hedging, product development and pricing. Over the last 20 years, he has focused on hedging, product development and pricing of variable annuities and investment products.

Mark Evans, FSA, MAAA, FLMI/M
Applied Stochastic, LLC

Mark Evans, FSA, MAAA, FLMI/M, has more than 35 years of actuarial experience as a fellow of the Society of Actuaries (SOA). At Applied Stochastic, he worked on numerous aspects of variable annuities and equity index annuities for clients. Evans has developed proprietary software for risk neutral valuation and sensitivity calculation. Prior to forming Applied Stochastic, he worked in the derivatives department for AEGON, where he had been program manager for equity index annuity, equity index universal life and variable annuity hedging. Previously Evans worked in life and annuity product development, which included developing equity index annuities. He has extensive experience with the development of actuarial related software including expert systems. Evans managed the development of AEGON's in-house variable annuity hedging software, personally doing most of the coding. He has also worked on software used for general modeling and reserving of life and annuity products, mostly with products containing equity risk.

Evans is a past question writer for both the SOA interest theory and life contingencies examinations. He served on the SOA examination syllabus committee and has written papers and articles appearing in actuarial publications. Evans has also been a frequent speaker at SOA meetings. Evans has a bachelor’s  in mathematics from the University of Nebraska where he  also minored in actuarial science. 

Jeff Greco, FRM
Senior Director – Head of Strategy Research Financial Risk Management, Portfolio Management Group

Jeff Greco, FRM, is a senior director in the Portfolio Management Group within Milliman’s Financial Risk Management Practice in Chicago. He is the head of Strategy Research and has expertise covering a wide range of applications, including derivatives pricing, risk management, portfolio modeling and trading strategy development. Additionally, Greco is a lecturer for The University of Chicago’s Graduate Program on Financial Mathematics, where he has taught since 2002.

He has been a quantitative finance and risk management professional since 1995. Greco’s experience prior to joining Milliman includes the companies Citadel LLC, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley.

Stephen Gruber, FSA, MAAA
Head of Annuity Analytics, Experience Studies, Assumption Development and Inforce Management
AXA Equitable

Stephen Gruber, FSA, MAAA, is the head of Annuity Analytics, Experience Studies, Assumption Development and Inforce Management at AXA Equitable. His career at AXA includes prior roles as head of Annuity Actuarial Inforce Management (2011-2017), head of Annuity (GMxB) Pricing/Modeling (2008-2011) and various individual Annuity roles at AXA (2001-2008). Prior to AXA, Gruber was a consultant at Milliman. He currently sits on various SOA & LIMRA committees related to annuity mortality and analysis of benefits and sales. 

Ari Linder, FSA, MAAA
Senior Vice President, U.S. Financial Solutions
Munich Re

Ari Lindner, FSA, MAAA, is senior vice president, U.S.Financial Solutions at Munich Re. He is responsible for development and growth of a variety of Munich Re offerings in the savings and investment space, with an emphasis on customized variable annuity guarantee reinsurance transactions. Linder is also a key lead on epidemic and pandemic risk reinsurance. In his role at Munich Re, Linder works closely with insurers to identify and satisfy their strategic risk and capital management objectives.

He has spent more than 20 years focused primarily on variable annuity guarantee reinsurance. Before joining Munich Re in 2015, Linder spent 15 years at a major global insurance/reinsurance company where he was responsible for building and managing the company’s variable annuity guarantee reinsurance business; in addition, Linder was responsible for overseeing risk, underwriting and claims functions for the life insurance and reinsurance businesses.

He holds a bachelor’s in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and Linderis a fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries.

Andrey Marchenko, Ph.D., FRM
Moody's Analytics

Andrey Marchenko, Ph.D., FRM, has worked for GGY and Moody's Analytics for the last 15 years as a programmer, and currently as a quant and mathematician. He is mostly focused on different technologies to speed up Monte Carlo calculations, scenario generation and pricing derivatives. His field of interest now is the application of artificial intelligence for these problems.  

Peter M. Phillips
President & CEO, PathWise Solutions Group
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 and 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.

Phillips obtained an honors MBA from the University of Chicago, and a M.Sc. 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.


Shaio-Tien Pan, FSA

Shaio-Tien Pan is a Director in PwC’s Actuarial Services practice. Pan has over 15 years of experience in the life insurance industry with extensive knowledge of variable annuity and FIA risk management and valuation.  His recent projects have focused on helping companies with GAAP Long Duration Targeted Improvements impact assessment.


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.

Poojan Shah, FSA, CERA, CFA, MAAA
Consulting Actuary

Poojan Shah, FSA, CERA, CFA, MAAA, is a consulting actuary with Milliman’s Financial Risk Management Practice in Chicago. He develops and manages hedging and risk management programs for variable annuity clients and has been extensively involved with variable annuity GAAP and statutory financial reporting. Shah has over 11 years’ experience in the actuarial industry.

Aziz Sunderji
Director, Macro Research

Aziz Sunderji is a director in Macro Research at Barclays Investment Bank. He joined Barclays in 2006 at their London office. He’s since been a strategist covering European credit markets and in Emerging Markets in New York. Sunderji holds a bachelor’s in economics from McGill University and a master’s in economics from the Stockholm School of Economics. 

Peter Tian
Oliver Wyman

Peter Tian is a principal in Oliver Wyman’s Insurance practice based in New York. He has led retirement income product design and risk management advisory engagements for over 10 life insurance companies on topics spanning (i) product design and new business strategy, (ii) risk, capital and liquidity management, (iii) hedge program development, (iv) in-force optimization, (v) predictive analytics and assumption review and (vi) end-to-end model validations. Tian has also supported the NAIC since 2015 in examining and developing revisions to the U.S. statutory reserving guidelines and capital rules for variable annuity products.