2019 Board Member Candidate
Sharon Giffen, FSA 1984, FCIA, ICD.D
Independent Board Member
Toronto Ontario, Canada
The SOA’s strategic plan is a well-thought out document, committing us to keep focus on key priorities. I find myself in agreement with both the desired outcomes and the initiatives in place to realize these. While new areas of practice and new ways to apply our skills are critical for the future, it is also necessary to provide the ongoing research and education to serve the diverse membership of the SOA.
Of the priorities listed, I would call out the focus on Predictive Analytics as particularly important in the years to come. There is no doubt that actuaries will need to understand ever more complex analysis of the increasing volume of data available in order to keep our stakeholders competitive – whether that is in the insurance or pensions arena. Opportunities exist for the ongoing development of both education for existing practitioners and research to stay on the leading edge of the necessary capabilities of the future. I believe that dealing with big data through models and analytics will provide opportunities for actuaries in many non-traditional fields in the future.
Underlying the ideas expressed in the strategic plan is a silent, but important requirement for the efforts of a vast number of volunteers. Ensuring that volunteer time is efficient and effective is important to the ongoing success of the SOA. My experience in volunteering myself and working for an employer who is focused on volunteerism has given me good insight into the recruitment, management and rewarding of volunteers.
I would be remiss not to mention good governance. My current work on Boards of Directors, my studies to achieve my ICD.D designation, and my three years as Chair of the Governance Committee of the CIA has deepened my appreciation of the importance of good organization and clear sets of accountabilities and oversight. Good governance is not bureaucracy; it is liberating to volunteers to know what authority they have to fulfill their responsibilities.
In short, I am eager to do my part to help the SOA achieve its goals.
Brief description of current work:
I currently serve on the Boards of Directors of four insurance organizations:
- Genworth MI Canada (Mortgage Insurance)
- Brookfield Annuity Company (Group Annuities for Pension De-Risking)
- Group Medical Services (Health Benefits & Travel Insurance)
- RSA Canada (P&C Insurance)
I do some individual management consulting and teach for LIMRA/LOMA occasionally.
Additionally, I serve in a voluntary capacity on the Board of Directors of Opera Atelier, a small baroque opera company.
Primary Area(s) of Practice:
The early years of my career included roles primarily in product development and marketing. In 2000, I joined The Independent Order of Foresters, a multi-national fraternal benefit society. I progressed through several roles:
- VP, Product Management (2000 – 2001) – developing and launching a new product suite for both Canada and the U.S.
- VP, Actuarial (2001 – 2006) – adding accountability for valuation and capital management for both Canada and the U.S.
- Chief Actuary (2006 – 2009) – Appointed Actuary for Canada for global operations and Appointed Actuary for the U.S.
- Chief Financial Officer (2009 – 2012) – accountable for actuarial, finance, investments, capital management, internal audit and risk management functions for global operations
- CEO, Foresters Life Insurance Company & President, Foresters Canada (2012 – 2014) – accountable for all Canadian operations
- Chief Risk Officer & Chief Compliance Officer (2014 – 2016) – accountable for developing and implementing a “second line of defense” for global operations
My prior roles included consulting, reinsurance, and roles at both small and large insurance companies:
- Ernst & Young Corporate Finance Inc. (1998 – 2000)
- Mercantile & General Life Reinsurance Company & Swiss Re Life and Health Reinsurance Company (1995 – 1998)
- National Life Insurance Company of Canada (1991 – 1995)
- Manulife Financial (1988 – 1991)
- Maritime Life Insurance Company (1984 – 1988)
- Laurier Life Insurance Company (1983 – 1984)
- North American Life Insurance Company (1981 – 1983)
I also have a long history of volunteerism, primarily in the actuarial field, and also in related industry groups:
- Presidential Term (President-Elect, President and Immediate Past President), Canadian Institute of Actuaries (2016 – 2019), including Chair, Governance Committee (2016 – 2019)
- Member, Board of Directors, Canadian Institute of Actuaries (2012 – 2015), including Chair, Risk Committee (2014 – 2015)
- Member, Operational Risk Management Working Group, CLHIA (2015)
- Board of Directors, Canadian Fraternal Association (amalgamated with American Fraternal Alliance) (2011 – 2013)
- Executive Council, Smaller Insurance Companies Section, SOA (2009 – 2011), including Chair (2011)
- Executive Council, Actuaries Section, American Fraternal Alliance (2004 – 2007), including Chair (2007)
- Executive Council, Actuaries Club of Toronto 2003 – 2005), including President (2005)
- Member, Illustration Guideline Working Group, CLHIA (2001 – 2002)
- Education and Examination Committee, Society of Actuaries (1985 – 2005)
Speaker at industry meetings: Society of Actuaries, Canadian Institute of Actuaries, Canadian Reinsurance Conference, LOMA, Life Insurance Institute of Canada, Ontario Sales Congress, Canadian Association of Financial Planners
Contributor of articles for actuarial publications: Product Matters, Smalltalk, Stepping Stone, Actuary of the Future, featured in “Out of the Office”, The Actuary
Awards: Vision for Insurance Industry for 2020 essay (2009); Jacobson-Rugland Award for Outstanding Fraternal Actuary (2010)
Reserved Seat - Canada: I am very proud to be a member of both the Society of Actuaries and the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, where I have just completed a Presidential term of service. This experience has given me great insight into the relationships between the two organizations, and the importance that each holds for the other. Ensuring the ongoing positive working relationship that currently exists is extremely important for me.
Although I am a candidate for this reserved seat, I clearly understand that each member of the Board of the SOA represents all members of the SOA. I will bring a Canadian point of view to discussions, but will always consider the best interests of the SOA in decision-making.
Please also feel free to visit me on LinkedIn at ca.linkedin.com/in/sharongiffen.