Josée Deroy, FSA 1998, MAAA
Founder & CEO
savvvy Services Inc
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Brief Description of the type of work you currently do:
Startup – Retirement Platform with digital delivery
Primary Area of Practice:
Insurance and Technology
Other Areas of Practice/Interests:
Investments and Finance
Why do you want to be on the Board?
I am very motivated to contribute to the SOA Strategic Plan which fully recognizes the urgency to elevate the profession by expanding the skillset needed to address the concerns raised by specific population segments, government agencies and financial services.
Furthermore, I acknowledge the unprecedented inflection point we are facing with the intersection of three major trends – Demographics, Technology and Globalization – which adds complexity to quickly identifying and prioritizing where and how we as a profession should lead the way.
I want to be a change agent for the SOA in accelerating its transformation while nurturing and building upon our highly regarded professional reputation.
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 held a number of positions in banking, reinsurance, insurance and consulting across multiple jurisdictions, including Canada, France, Luxembourg, USA. My work has been primarily on assignments covering Individual Life & Annuity, Finance, Investments, Risk Management and Technology with global organizations such as Willis Towers Watson, Groupama-GAN, Swiss Re Life & Health, AXA, Nationwide, BNP Paribas, HSBC, MetLife and IBM.
In multiple instances, I pioneered and spearheaded major global mandates on revising and applying actuarial practices in today’s environmental challenges. Consequently, I have been recognized as a well-respected industry strategist, thought leader, and trusted advisor to introduce groundbreaking concepts to all levels across myriad organizations.
While gaining such exposure and experience, I have benefited from the availability, time, coaching, and feedback offered by many. I have been very fortunate to convert these professional relationships into a global network of role models and thought leaders who continue to inspire me. My valued network provides an unparalleled pool of resources I can reach out to when engaged as a problem solver and strategic thinker.
Being at the crossroad of dramatic shifts in demographics and the workforce, combined with environmental uncertainties faced by financial institutions and society’s call for changes led me to create a startup in 2019. The confidence to do so came after being a mentor to an accelerator in 2016, and then selected as a participant to another one in 2018.
Having already taken a turn at embarking on the road of disruption, I can fully relate, envision, and appreciate the plan endorsed by the SOA. The mission, vision, strategies combined with members’ insights and influence, allow for connection with diverse ecosystems fostering proof of concepts, and limited viable products represent real opportunities for the SOA to encourage, support and scale up the participation of our members, candidates and stakeholders.
Volunteer, Governance and Personal Experience
Describe how your volunteer, governance and personal experiences would strengthen your contributions to the SOA Board, the organization, and strategic plan execution.
My volunteer activity in professional associations is based on my belief that we need to build strong networks within and across related professions to better contribute to the growth of the financial services industry.
I joined working groups focused on identifying the nature and valuing the magnitude of risks, along with measures to monitor, and manage financial impacts accordingly.
- Specifically, the proliferation and innovation of retirement products in North America; enhancing pricing techniques for risks undertaken by insurers and reinsurers
- Globally, the overhaul of accounting regimes and regulations; providing internal financial analyses for banks and insurers.
With the support and encouragement of my employers, I remained at the forefront of these global initiatives, collaborating with financial professionals from all spectrums and multiple jurisdictions.
Please list your relevant volunteer experience. Please include the name of the organization, your role, and approximate dates
- TechStars Barclays Accelerator Program, Mentor (2016)
- PRMIA Luxembourg, Steering Committee, Co-Founder (2003 – 2005)
- CIA, Investment Practice Committee (1999 – 2003)
Conference Planning Committee
- SOA Investment Symposiums (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
- Co-Chair SOA / CIA Investment Seminar, AFIR Colloquium (2004)
- CIA Investment (2002, 2003), Stochastic Modeling (2003) Seminars
- National Association for Variable Annuities, Annual Meeting (2001)
- SOA, Investment (2008), Valuation Actuary (2007) Symposiums, Annuity Conference (2000, 2002), Spring Meeting (2001)
- CIA, Investment Seminar (1999, 2001)
Ethics and Transparency
Ethics and transparency are essential to professional practice and service on the board. Discuss ethics and transparency challenges you might expect to face in your role as elected board member, and describe how you would approach these challenges.
Ambiguity and questionable actions amid execution are often caused by a lack of clarity in roles, rules and clearly defined issues to be solved. These, in turn, influence behavior that can lead to unintended and unfortunate consequences. Putting structure, facts, data and transparency at the heart of decision-making to avoid confusion will be key, notably as we enter new territory on the path to change and innovation.
Themes of research selected by the SOA are global, of interest to most stakeholders and where Board members may be engaged in their day-to-day activities. Thus, it will be imperative to disclose all affiliations, conflicts of interest that may exist, or emerge, while contributing to committees, task forces and acting on behalf of the SOA.
Having accountability in Board duties, serving in the best interests of the SOA and its members, identifying and prioritizing areas of concern, responding to the constituencies we work for, should prevail over and dominate any hidden agenda any individual member could personally benefit from.
De facto, I already adhere to our code of ethics and thus will promote its importance, and relevance in conducting my activities with the Office of the President and fellow Board members.
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.
I was hired for a critical role following an unprecedented actuarial reorganization, based on my track record for leading global and diverse teams.
The mandate consisted of steering and guiding projects, ranging from improving business-as-usual processes to directing corporate strategic initiatives. As a leader, I leveraged my experience as a reinsurer and banker to execute transactions where I developed know-your-customer-first skills to navigate organizations while gaining and securing trust and confidence from my reports, peers and senior management.
As a manager, my most important and highly gratifying success was creating an environment where teammates shared ideas, felt listened to and valued. This transformed an actuarial team of 35 into go-getters, pro-active, enthusiastic, problem solvers motivated to deliver comprehensive and convincing analyses to senior management.
Together, we developed models and ground-breaking tools not yet available on the market. The outcome provided value-added, compelling insights to complete a set of metrics to assist management in making timely decisions.
I prefer to highlight a work environment as opposed to a single situation to describe my role as an MVP.
Since 1998, I have joined new ventures within global organizations. The roles were very entrepreneurial in nature, calling for comfort with ambiguity, change, disruption, and broad skillsets needed to function in a startup environment.
Agile thinking, adaptive, creative, optimistic, realistic, and resilient define my character and ability to interact with others in developing business plans, structuring bespoke transactions, bridging gaps, coordinating, and rallying parties when addressing changes and innovation.
The challenges I have encountered were surmountable and 100% attributable to the commitment and respect in delivering as one team despite the complexities and layers of approval required for a successful resolution.
This attitude has served me well both professionally and personally. With similar conviction, I will engage as an SOA Board member.
Describe how you stay intellectually engaged and how you will apply your personal knowledge as an Elected Board Member.
My intellectual activities fall under collecting, and processing information that comes from 3 predominant sources:
- Traditional: Conference, webinar, newsletter, journal from various associations
- Web search: Consisting into transforming a thought, a question into an informed idea
- Network: LinkedIn, calls, meetings with former colleagues, clients engaged in activities covering sales & marketing (e.g. product development, origination, distribution), regulations and technology
Over the last few years, I have concentrated on ways to leverage actuarial credentials, expertise, and experience that integrate the advances of technology to help financial institutions’ operations to deliver better experiences to the end user.
As such, I have explored new concepts around retirement with insurers, reinsurers, asset managers, financial advisors, regulators and rating agencies for future implementation.
It takes a village!
This is where the SOA can play a significant role in removing obstacles and pushing boundaries faced by our employers, both institutional and retail. To perform and compete, actuaries will have to work closely with other technical professionals namely, data scientists, developers, programmers, and designers.
Traditional functions will continue to employ and engage further with actuaries in automating, enhancing existing processes, providing timely, additional insights to senior management more frequently and extensively.
To make things happen, we need to steer and excel as an organization in being cohesive, smart, quick in adopting approaches to deploy, while keeping sight of external forces motivating new comers to enter our space and affecting how we have established and maintained a presence to date.
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.
Stewardship, duty of care, through my work experience consists of valuing the importance of our work, ensuring quality of work is delivered, and holding a positive attitude when tackling complex, demanding issues for myself and those with whom I interact.
I apply rigor and discipline in analyses, assessments, and review, whether delivering internally or externally. Having a client first mindset in setting the bar, I am governed by my personal standards of high quality, and accuracy, where trust and integrity are not questionable.
In serving our members, candidates and stakeholders, I will contribute with a forward-looking view, reacting opportunistically to rapid changing environments in sync with the SOA strategic plan. I will bring all resources I have access to and will implement initiatives put in place by the Board and the President.
Reflecting on today’s workforce reality, the expectations, and awareness of social and environmental issues, I believe in a balanced approach towards individual wellbeing and happiness, which positively impacts our societies, its organizations and our global connectivity.
As nicely compiled by IBM, the 5 dimensions of health:
- Physical: In being healthy, living active life
- Mind: In understanding, expressing emotions in a productive manner
- Financial: In making informed decisions
- Social: In positively contributing, relating to, connecting with others
- Purpose: In developing congruence between personal values, actions and the meaning to life
Integrated with data, the power of analytics, and AI, with the desire from private companies and public-sector agencies to fulfil their duties in providing security and confidence in managing one’s life challenges and realities, it becomes even more apparent and relevant today for professionals, like actuaries, to advance their skillset to maintain leadership roles in finding answers, developing solutions to implement and execute, leading to a better world.