Peter C. Hayes, FSA 1989, FCIA
Principal, Halifax NS
Brief description of the type of work you currently do:
Pension and Investment consulting; stochastic modelling (including asset/liability modelling); development and implementation of strategic and financial plans; company management.
Primary Area of Practice:
Other Areas of Practice/Interests:
Why do you want to be on the Board?
I have had the privilege of holding a leadership position in a company that believes we need to nourish the profession(s) that feed us, allowing me to volunteer continuously with the SOA since I achieved my Fellowship. I share this belief, and as I transition away from “paid employment”, I believe I can bring to the Board a combination of leadership, depth of knowledge and extensive volunteer experience that will enhance the Strategic Plan’s implementation as the Profession – in the words of the Strategic Plan – identifies, analyzes and responds to the rapidly changing environment in which we work.
Ethics and Transparency
Ethics and transparency are essential to professional practice and service on the Board. How have you demonstrated ethics and transparency in the past? How will your own ethics and views on transparency influence your decisions and actions as a member of the SOA Board?
Honesty, ethicality, open communication and fostering a culture of mutual respect are part of the foundation upon which I have operated and conducted business for more than 35 years. I believe I have earned the respect and trust of customers, colleagues and competitors alike, in large part because of these traits. They have inspired me to admit mistakes, and to atone for those mistakes; to confront difficult situations head-on; to be a listener; and to develop and implement solutions to problems that reflect not only high standards of technical capability, but good judgement and careful consideration of context as well. Perhaps the most significant demonstration of putting ethics and transparency into practice is walking the fine line of trusted advisor to both parties in a contract negotiation: knowing your role and not violating the trust of either side, while at the same time bringing relevance and substance to the negotiating table over long stretches of time requires every ounce of whatever can be squeezed from a well of ethics and transparency that can never run empty! This is the background that will no doubt shape my input, opinions and decisions on the various matters coming before the Board.
Collaborative working relationships are essential to the governance function of the SOA Board of Directors, especially as board members work with each other, volunteers, and staff to achieve the strategic goals and mission of SOA. Describe a situation from either your professional or volunteer experiences that demonstrated you are a team player
Collaborative working relationships have been an essential component throughout my career, both professionally and as a volunteer. The SOA itself provides a great example: my volunteer “career” first started in the Education (the old “E&E”) system, when the charge was to write and grade exam questions. This was always done with a partner – often someone you didn’t otherwise know – and was the first phase of a much larger process that supports the SOA’s promise to deliver a prestigious, relevant and globally recognized credential. Fast forward through higher levels of responsibility, through Chair and General Officer roles, first at the exam level and then within the Education Committee Executive group, and the collaboration with Staff and other volunteer leaders becomes more and more acute. A number of characteristics demonstrate team play, including commitment to the objective of enabling the SOA to realize its promise; being reliable and giving 110%, so that the team knows they can count on you; communicating openly and respectfully with Staff and other members of the volunteer group(s); accepting responsibility and, sometimes, putting up your hand for a task no one else wants; and being able and willing to adapt and respond to the adversity caused by changing circumstances. These are all characteristics a team player possesses, but there is one more that all team members need to have for collaboration to exist: knowing your role. In assembling numerous client service teams throughout my professional life, the ability to understand key roles (including your own) and how they might interact – i.e., collaborate – was key to whether or not the team would be successful. Commitment, reliability, the ability to communicate, accepting of responsibility, responding positively to adversity, and understanding my role … these are the traits I have demonstrated throughout my career as a “team player”.
Board members need to exhibit curiosity and a desire to learn about areas that may potentially impact the SOA and the profession. How do you stay informed about what is going on nationally and internationally, and how do you apply that knowledge into your work with SOA and the profession?
There are two aspects to this question: the general satisfaction of curiosity – staying informed and applying new knowledge to our work; and the more specific satisfaction of curiosity as it applies to areas that might impact the profession. These are somewhat, but not entirely, intertwined: I have found, for instance, that research done by or through the SOA has often had direct application to my professional work (the Retirement 20/20 initiative being a great example). Sometimes this research reflects or introduces trends that are occurring nationally or internationally, and that will impact the profession; and sometimes it’s just really good material that can be thoughtfully applied to work I’m doing for clients. Beyond that, there is the general obligation to stay abreast of events that will influence my craft, and to view those events through an actuary’s lens – this is accomplished through speaking at conferences, reading trade publications, preparing regulatory briefs, and other like activities. In terms of areas that might impact the profession, my SOA background has been predominantly serving on education committees (both preliminary and continuing), and through that involvement I have been privileged to have gained exposure to many of the issues that have faced both the SOA and the profession over the past few decades. Many of these are Education related, and considering the SOA’s promise to deliver a globally recognized credential, we must continue to reflect the very best in educational methods and testing, and to consider “best-in-class” ideas. My recent work on the Independent Review Panel showed that we’re doing a lot of things right – we are leaders with a gold standard when it comes to our credential – but we are not perfect. We need to continue to raise the bar, and the intellectual engagement of our leadership will be a necessary component.
Respectful and prudent use of resources is an important function of all board members. Explain how you have demonstrated this characteristic in either your work or volunteer experiences and how it will carry over to your role on the SOA Board.
Those of us that have been entrusted to leadership positions over the course of our career understand the prudent use of resources, whether human, financial, mechanical, or intellectual. In my day-to-day work, I have been responsible for running a very successful small business (i.e., a professional consulting practice) within a much larger business (our Firm). I have been an owner of the firm for nearly 20 years, and have participated in every AGM we have held in that time, as well as countless planning sessions. All of these, in some way, touch on the prudent use of resources: where and when to invest, where and when to withdraw, how to articulate and rank priorities and to create timelines for efficient resource deployment. There are always more areas in which to invest than capital (human, financial, etc.) available to meet the demand, and it takes discipline and experience to decide on how the resources should be deployed. The decisions are difficult, and often require navigation through “champions” advocating in respect of specific initiatives; both the advocacy and the navigation require respectful communication among parties and stakeholders. On the volunteer side, particularly in my work for the SOA, it has always been evident that there is lots of work for anyone that wants to do it. Unfortunately, there never seem to be enough volunteers, so the leaders of the volunteer groups need to be aware that the resource is scarce, and allow that to factor into decision making if and when new initiatives are being explored. I believe my experience in leading a large volunteer contingent (i.e., the Education Committee) taught me a lot about leveraging the resources available – both volunteer and staff – and is something that will carry over in a very conscious way to a role on the SOA Board.
Provide a brief description of your professional background and the type of work you currently do and explain how these experiences have prepared you for the Elected Board Member role.
Early in my career I was selected for a customer-facing role that required communication of technical actuarial concepts to a non-technical audience, and, although I didn’t know it at the time, it set me on a path where those communication skills would be used again and again. My deep roots are in individual insurance, but most of my career has been spent as a retirement actuary, and much of that has, in turn, been spent communicating the results of comprehensive data analytics, and the recommendations that are developed therefrom, to Boards of Directors, senior management, Boards of Trustees, Committees and, in many cases, to the members that will ultimately benefit from our work. Over the course of that career, my work has evolved from the technical to the strategic, and now most of my time is spent at the Board and CEO level, and with the leadership of Unions. So … how does this prepare for an SOA Board role? The biggest thing is the experience of “being in the room” and being a big part of the decision-making process – a Boardroom is not foreign to me. Second, you never forget where you came from – you pause and think before every decision about who it will affect, and how. Third, in evolving from the technical to the strategic, I have embraced and promoted technical innovation, the most poignant example of which (in my particular case) is the application of stochastic modelling to pension systems. We need to innovate if we are to remain relevant – and this example represents the practical application of the SOA’s Strategic Plan, whereby knowledge, perspective, insight and influence are all used in real-world applications. My professional life has provided a multitude of experiences that serve as a wonderful foundation for the Elected Board Member role.
Volunteer and Governance Experience
Describe how your previous volunteer, personal and governance experiences would strengthen your contributions to the SOA Board and organization.
My volunteer time has been split between the SOA, where I have volunteered since attaining Fellowship, and community activities, most notably with minor sports. My time with the SOA has been in increasingly responsible and/or diverse roles, mostly attached to Education (including the E&E, Professional Development, and, currently, CAE Evaluation Committees, as well as the Independent Review Panel and, several years ago, a joint SOA/CAS/CIA task force that explored the merits of university accreditation as part of the credentialing process). Gaining an understanding of the SOA’s scope, the roles of Staff and volunteers, the interactions with other actuarial organizations – these are all experiences that will strengthen my contribution to the SOA Board. Further, my time on the Nominating Committee several years ago, as well as my current positions on the Canadian Board of the IFEBP and on the Board Pension Committee of a manufacturing company have provided great insight into various governance models employed across different sectors, including for both profit-seeking and non-profit organizations. These experiences, too, will provide a strong foundation for service on the SOA Board.