Jim Toole, FSA 1997, MAAA, CERA
FTI Consulting, Inc.
Managing Director, Life & Health
Brief Description of the type of work you currently do:
I lead the Life and Health actuarial team in the Global Insurance Services practice. My work includes mergers and acquisitions, modeling, enterprise risk management, expert witness, product development, financial reporting, and regulatory support roles.
Primary Area of Practice:
Life and Health
Other Areas of Practice/Interests:
International, Risk Management, General Insurance
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 in your Presidential term?
Surveys consistently show that actuaries are highly regarded as trusted and objective advisers. As a profession, we protect our reputation with the Code of Professional Conduct and our independent disciplinary arm, the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline. Through my prior board service and long history of professional volunteering, I understand the importance of objectivity in decision-making. Although I have never needed to do so, declaring financial or other conflicts, and being recused as appropriate, goes without saying.
The ability of the board to function collegially and at a high level requires respect for differences in opinion which transparency affords. That said, there are restrictions on transparency outside the board (e.g. executive session) because these communications are privileged. It is important for board members to respect privilege since without it, dissenting voices can be muted.
Ultimately, the President’s role is to lead the organization and serve the profession. While SOA strategy and tactics derive from the strategic plan, as a consultant, my business practice depends on my ethics and my ability to be transparent within the bounds of legal privilege. In ethics and transparency, I lead by example and will approach the role of President the same way.
As you review the responsibilities of the President Elect Job Description, the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, and the 2019 Initiatives, describe how you will work together with the officers, board members, committee chairs, volunteers, executive director, and staff to fulfill your presidential responsibilities and advance the direction of SOA.
During my 25-year history volunteering for the SOA, I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of incredibly smart, dedicated, passionate volunteers and staff. I have had the satisfaction of learning, working, and achieving with high-performing teams, and the pleasure of turning council positions and committee assignments into long term friendships. Over the course of my career, many of my most important leadership lessons have come from SOA volunteer opportunities, setting up a positive feedback loop where I incorporate lessons learned from SOA activities into the workplace and vice versa.
Chairing the Latin America Committee (LAC) is but one of many examples of successfully working with board, volunteers, and staff. The LAC started as a temporary task force and became a regional committee after, with the support of staff, I presented the task force’s findings to the board. I was appointed chair and set about recruiting committee members. Because of my history in the region, I was able to attract a diverse team of experienced candidates with a love for the region. I led an initial face-to-face meeting where we established our goals, focusing on building relationships with local stakeholders. As President, I will operate in a similar fashion: understanding objectives, identifying resources, and tapping individuals with passion and persistence to achieve organizational goals.
The best leadership style is one that is effective for the particular team, so it is important to have flexibility in leadership approaches. We have seen the negative effects of “going rogue,” which can reverberate for years. I lead by example and through consensus and will approach the role of President the same way: thoughtfully, respectfully, within the constraints of the strategic plan and with the needs of stakeholders, from candidates to the public and everyone in between, in mind.
Describe a recent situation where you have facilitated a diverse group of people in moving a significant project to the next stage of completion.
I developed a keen interest in public health after reading about disparities in infant mortality rates in my community. I contacted my local health department and shortly thereafter was encouraged to form a multi-disciplinary committee consisting of a broad spectrum of community stakeholders. Most of the members had substantially more experience addressing health equity issues than I did, but because of my background with sections, I was able to effectively lead the group, and felt comfortable organizing a successful Health Equity Day conference. To reach wider audiences, I organized an art exhibit challenging racial disparities, reported in The Actuary in April 2008.
I transformed my interest in public health into action at the SOA. I moderated and recruited four sessions at the 2007 spring meeting, establishing a public health “mini-track.” The next year in my role as Health Section Chair, I had the Health Newsletter “bully pulpit” to write about public health in the 2008 article “Actuaries Advancing Public Health.”
But over the last decade, section support for public health waned. More recently, there has been a resurgence in interest due to the strategic initiative process instituted by the Health Section and as a result, a section supported Public Health Task Force was formed. I was thrilled to become involved in the initiative and was given the privilege of speaking at SOA meetings about my experiences in the public health space. And in my role on the Health Curriculum Committee, I was able to introduce public health content to the curriculum to ensure foundational concepts are being taught to candidates.
I learned an important lesson from this experience: good ideas are important, but not sufficient. Ideas don’t survive without connecting them into the organizational infrastructure to sustain them after you move on.
In your presidential role you will act as an ambassador for SOA, its members, and the profession. Provide examples of how you would fulfill this responsibility during your term of office and describe a current situation in which you have successfully acted as an ambassador for an organization or institution.
While living in Mexico, I served as the SOA Ambassador. Started by the International Section, the Ambassador program provides SOA members a mechanism to formally identify and articulate the needs of members in different parts of the world, to communicate topics of interest to SOA members, and to assist in the promotion of the SOA and the actuarial profession.
It was this role that cemented my passion for professional volunteering, and shortly thereafter I ran for International Section Council. Through my roles as Section Chair and Ambassador Coordinator and powered by SOA Ambassadors around the world, I implemented the Country Web Pages and led the international Table Manager update. This gave me a rare insight into the ability of the SOA to vet, nurture, and incubate ideas, and an early understanding of the global impact of the SOA. These positive outcomes led to my serving on the International Policy Committee and the first SOA Strategic Planning Committee.
In a broader sense, I am sure many of you find you are the only actuary in the room, and often the first actuary people have met. I am very cognizant of this and endeavor to present the profession well. While technical skills are foundational to the profession, communication skills (oral, written, active listening) make the difference in the professional.
Serving in the role of President you are always “on.” Verbal and written communications, formal or informal, can and will be scrutinized. I am a naturally outgoing person; I enjoy meeting people and getting to know them. I am on Facebook and appreciate the chance to connect with people informally. I wasn’t born with a filter, but I have done a good job building one. That said, there is a high probability I am going to have loudest laugh in the room :-)
What do you see as the future of the SOA and the profession, especially in the global arena?
SOA credentials are the global standard. We can and should expect to see our reputation continue to be enhanced as membership expands around the globe. As an ever-greater percentage of our candidates come from overseas, we will need to continue assessing how we serve global stakeholders as well as our credentialing approach, including the use of certificate programs.
The regional committee structure appears to be well-suited to understand local issues and implement potential solutions. Our approach to local universities, professional associations, and regulators needs to be one of outreach and partnership. The SOA has many tools and resources at our disposal; different countries and partners will be at different stages and have different needs.
The challenges that the profession faces from predictive analytics and insurtech are real. While our Professional Development programs are nimble enough to respond rapidly to environmental changes, it takes longer to turn the Basic Education ship of state. While universities are currently doing a better job providing candidates with analytics training, I was on the board when we voted to incorporate predictive analytics in the associateship track and approved the pilot predictive analytics certificate program.
Finally, we need to re-think how we attract young professionals, the most diverse generation in history, to the profession. How do we build community, foster engagement, and develop new leaders around the globe? The tools that worked 20 years ago (section membership, meetings, and volunteer opportunities) are less effective today and need to evolve to satisfy the needs of the next generation of actuaries.
I have a vision to grow the profession and the track record to prove it. The arc is long; we need someone who not only sees the goal but has the patience and stamina to get us there.
Provide a brief description of your professional background and the type of work you have performed and explain how these experiences have prepared you for the Presidential role and qualify you in carrying out the strategic direction of the SOA.
The SOA is an extraordinarily diverse organization. We serve a global membership, in multiple disciplines, across a broad array of stakeholders. As with any large family, change is the rule not the exception, and everyone’s interests are not always fully aligned. Its leaders must be able to pivot gracefully and be active listeners to appreciate the evolving perspectives of our many stakeholders.
My diverse background enables me to connect quickly and easily with people. I am currently a Managing Director at FTI Consulting, Inc. and lead the Life and Health actuarial team in the Global Insurance Services practice. I have more than 30 years of experience in the life, health, and P&C insurance industries, including a variety of roles with leading consulting firms and insurance companies. I have lived and worked internationally while practicing on five continents and speak conversational Spanish.
My background includes mergers and acquisitions, modeling, enterprise risk management, expert witness, product development, financial reporting, and regulatory support roles. I have experience with life settlements, XXX/AXXX reserve relief, COLI/BOLI, and mortality cat bonds. My life product experience includes traditional, limited pay, universal, variable and group life; variable, deferred, and immediate annuities; and a wide variety of riders and stand-alone products.
My health background spans large group, small group and individual products; self-insured plans; multiple employer welfare arrangements; work-site products; health savings accounts; and cancer, limited benefit, and other specialty products. Health policy interests include health disparities, medical errors, community benefit, and health impact assessments.
My career has been propelled by the market knowledge that actuaries are the professionals best qualified to evaluate, manage, and capitalize on risk. Perspectives change, but our focus as a profession on the socio-economic consequences of risk, and our shared foundation of education and professionalism, keeps the course true.
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.
While I volunteer extensively in my community, my professional activities provide the most satisfying experience. In addition to gaining a deep understanding of how the SOA operates, these opportunities have taught me important lessons about leadership and how to work effectively with high-performing teams to establish and achieve objectives within the framework of the strategic plan. Since I became an ASA over 25 years ago I have been volunteering continuously, serving in almost all areas of the SOA including:
- Health curriculum committee
- General Insurance syllabus development committee
- Finance exam question writer
- Health Spring Meeting Chair
- Speaker at dozens of sessions
- Potential Impact of a Pandemic on US Life & Health Insurance Industries (Researcher)
- Economic Measurement of Medical Errors (POG Chair)
- Economic Impact of Opioid Abuse (POG)
- Insurance Industry Mergers and Acquisitions textbook (Lead Editor)
- Numerous articles in actuarial and industry publications
- Actuarial Speculative Fiction (Progenitor)
- Health Section (Chair)
- International Section (Chair)
- Computer Science Section (Newsletter Editor)
Committees and Task Forces
- Latin America Committee (Chair)
- Public Health Task Force
- Untapped Opportunities for Health Actuaries
- Marketplace Relevance Strategic Action Team
- International Policy Committee
- SOA Board Member and Vice-President
- Strategic Planning Committee