Lisa Kuklinski, FSA 1995, MAAA
Ernst & Young
New York, NY
Brief Description of the type of work you currently do:
Consulting services on topics ranging from mergers and acquisitions to GAAP accounting to actuarial transformation
Primary Area of Practice:
Life and Annuities
Other Areas of Practice/Interests:
Financial Reporting, Pricing, Risk Management
Why do you want to be on the Board?
Being elected to the SOA Board would allow me to apply my experience and background to make a greater contribution to the profession. I have had a diverse set of experiences and have seen profound change in the profession firsthand. Through my work chairing the SOA’s Latin America Committee and being a member of the International Committee, I have gained insight into how the SOA Board operates and makes decisions. It’s a group that I would like to be a part of, to guide the profession into the next decade and beyond. Given my current work commitments, I can fully participate.
Ethics and Transparency
Ethics and transparency are essential to professional practice and service on the board. How will your own ethics and views on transparency influence your decisions and actions as a member of the SOA board?
Upholding a high standard of ethics and transparency has been a theme in my career. In my professional career, for any situation or assignment, I think about who the stakeholders are and how best to keep them informed. This lays the groundwork for the full disclosure of facts—the good, bad, and ugly. Clear communication and documentation are vital to having projects run effectively. Agreeing to a framework for decision-making and financial metrics is key.
Judgment calls are often necessary in actuarial work and on boards, but there must be transparency for those calls not to be judged as arbitrary.
I also strongly believe that the code of conduct and practice standards help to protect the actuary as an individual and the profession as a whole. To that end, I have volunteered with the American Academy of Actuaries to contribute to Actuarial Standards of Practice. I currently serve on the Actuarial Standards Board Life Committee.
I would apply these guiding principles in my decisions and actions as an SOA board member.
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 advance the direction of the SOA. We need both leaders and team members. Describe a situation from either your professional or volunteer experiences that demonstrated where you can be effective in each of these roles.
In my career, I have served as both leader and team member, and am able to shift between the two roles.
One concrete situation of both leading and being a team member (in different aspects of the effort) was a yearlong project implementing Embedded Value at MetLife. As Americas Chief Actuary, I was responsible for leading a large team (150+) to create and run models, analyze results, and communicate and document the results. The team was comprised of both people in my organization and people outside my organization. Under my direction, we succeeded in delivering the project on time. I attribute my effectiveness to having the team understand the importance of what we were doing and conveying the overall sense of urgency. I wanted team members to understand how their work was crucial to the overall design. I worked closely with the team and held frequent touchpoints. This enabled me to make the necessary decisions, solve flare-ups before they become larger issues, and provide effective direction.
In this same project, I was also a team member on another aspect of the implementation. Embedded Value results were being used to drive overall company strategy and I was part of an overall task force comprised of business leaders, CFOs, marketing directors, and other subject matter experts. I represented Actuarial. In this role, I focused on making sure the business leaders fully understood the calculations and methodology. My role was to bring expertise and commitment to the table to get the larger project accomplished, and to make sure that results were interpreted correctly.
Many of the same skills are needed for both leading and “teaming”—being a good listener, communicating effectively, and working collaboratively. The important part is having role clarity and being able to act as required.
Board members need to exhibit curiosity and a desire to learn about areas that may potentially impact the SOA and the profession. How will you apply that knowledge as an elected Board Member?
My personal motto is to never stop learning. I have a curious nature and continually seek out new experiences and new areas of study.
Part of my recent decision to transition to consulting was to be able to have a variety of different work experiences with various clients and to be able to stay abreast of industry changes (e.g., new US GAAP targeted improvements). While in industry, I sought out collaborations with risk managers and data scientists to find practical areas where we could work together.
I also apply this to my SOA volunteer work. As chair of the Latin America Committee, a major part of my role is developing a deep understanding of the profession in our four target countries, so that we can recommend how the SOA could best approach each market. I accomplish this by diligently pursing facts and background and being fully engaged in discussions. It’s important to be an effective listener and to get input from various perspectives—students, employers, universities, regulators. It’s also important to understand the “competition”—i.e., other actuarial associations. This curiosity has led me to expand my scope beyond the US and Latin America. As part of my work with the SOA’s International Committee, I will be visiting the Philippines and Vietnam to better understand how the profession is developing in those countries.
I would apply this same energy and commitment as a member of the SOA Board.
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.
Financial discipline and accountability are crucial to a well-run organization. As part of my work experience, I have served as the CFO of MetLife’s largest segment, U.S. Retail. In this role, I was responsible for financial planning and analysis for individual life and annuity products as well as captive and independent distribution channels. Expense planning and budgeting were critical to this role. In addition, I also served on a committee that prioritized and approved technology investments. Technology dollars are limited, and in order to invest them wisely, I instituted a process where the benefits of the project would be quantified. This could include future expense savings from automation and truly incremental sales.
Any qualitative aspects would also be identified, such as strategic importance or regulatory requirements. This enabled us to see which investments would have the greatest impact. In order to maintain accountability, we would also have retrospective lookbacks to track actual spending and benefits.
The SOA is no different. The same kind of financial discipline and accountability must exist. Member dues must provide value and be put to their best use. I am especially aware of this in my role as Latin America Committee chair and International Committee member. International expansion can require an investment, and it’s important to be able to have a solid business case. I have been focused on expenses and cost accounting, and I would continue to do so if I were elected to the Board.
Provide a brief description of your professional background and the type of work you have performed and explain how these experiences have prepared you as an Elected Board Member and qualify you in carrying out the strategic direction of the SOA.
I have over 25 years of experience working as an actuary, in both technical and leadership roles, and in both an insurance company and a consulting practice. In 2018, I retired from MetLife. I am currently consulting in the Insurance and Actuarial Advisory Services practice of EY, working under a flexible arrangement. I am therefore able to fully commit to the responsibilities of serving on the SOA Board while staying closely involved in the industry.
At MetLife, I held roles of increasing responsibility. As Senior Vice President and Chief Actuary of MetLife’s US and Latin America region from 2013 to 2018, I oversaw all actuarial work. I led a large, diverse, multinational team. In addition to the technical work, I reorganized the unit and increased the collaboration with business partners. I have mentored actuaries and am passionate about developing their careers. Prior to this role, I served as CFO of MetLife’s then-largest segment, U.S. Retail. This role was focused on financial planning and analysis and provided me with experience in expense management. As an actuary in a CFO role, I was able to provide a unique perspective.
Earlier in my career, I lived in Mexico City for two years on an expatriate assignment, where I served as CFO of MetLife’s start-up pension company and as Chief Actuary of MetLife’s Mexican subsidiary. I am fluent in Spanish.
Throughout my career, I have excelled at building relationships and collaboration. I have business acumen and am articulate. These varied experiences and qualities make me well-positioned to be an SOA Board member and to carry out its strategic direction.
Volunteer and Governance Experience
Describe how your volunteer, personal and governance experiences would strengthen your contributions to the SOA Board, the organization, and strategic plan execution.
My SOA volunteer experience has had an international theme. I chaired the International Section in the early 2000s and am currently chairing the Latin America Committee and serving on the International Committee. I have a deep understanding of how the profession is evolving in Latin America and will also be participating in two country visits in Asia (the Philippines and Vietnam). Since the SOA is revisiting its international strategy, my experience and interest is very relevant.
I have also served on boards of MetLife subsidiaries as well as on the board of a not-for-profit community organization. This experience has given me practical exposure to governance, agreeing on strategic direction, identifying problems and opportunities, and facilitating decision making.
Through the American Academy of Actuaries, I have collaborated on Actuarial Standard of Practice 54, Pricing of Life Insurance and Annuity Products. I currently serve on the Actuarial Standards Board Life Committee. This has deepened my understanding of actuarial professionalism. Through the ACLI, I was co-chair of the group representing the industry on the Variable Annuity Stat reserve and capital framework. In these experiences, balancing competing views and building consensus were important.