Nazir Valani, FSA 2001, FCIA, MAAA
President & Co-Founder
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Brief Description of the type of work you currently do:
Appointed Actuary, Peer Reviews, Corporate, Risk Management, Pricing, Valuation, Modeling. Life Insurance, Health Insurance & Annuities
Primary Area of Practice:
Life Insurance, Health Insurance
Other Areas of Practice/Interests:
Research, Modeling of pandemics including COVID-19, Future employment of Actuaries
Why do you want to be on the Board?
After successful and rewarding career (featured in an SOA video titled “Society of Achievers”, awarded SOA President’s Award in 2018), I want to give back.
- SOA Strategic Plan: Assist SOA in coming up with the next 5-year Strategic Plan. Worked on this for Boards.
- Long Term Growth Strategy: On the SOA’s Employers Council and “focus group”.
- Global Strategy & Reach: Big supporter of the SOA (Corporate Sponsor) and attend meetings and work globally.
- Entrepreneur: Started company, went from one-person shop to second largest life actuarial practice in Canada, sold to KPMG, and started second company
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.
- Global Network: Work globally in Canada, US, the Caribbean and Asia. I am knowledgeable on global issues (e.g. IFRS 17, Targeted Improvements, PBR, etc.) and well connected with many actuaries. Being in actuarial consulting, I keep in touch with many insurance companies. I have attended over the last 20+ years, and will continue to attend, the major actuarial meetings in Canada, US, the Caribbean and some SOA meetings in Asia.
- Employment: I am on the SOA Employers Council. I am part of a focus group on SOA’s Long-Term Growth Strategy. I know what employers are looking for.
- Board Experience: I have Board experience already. I am the Chair of the Board for Hospice Toronto. Was Treasurer and Chair of the Risk & Finance Committee. I am also on the Toronto Neighborhood Organization (TNO) Board. Am on Governance Committee.
- Canadian Perspective: Bring the Canadian perspective. I am a member of the Standards & Guidance Council of the CIA.
- Entrepreneur: I started my own company as a one-person operation which became the second largest life actuarial practice in Canada, sold it to KPMG LLP where I led the Actuarial Practice in Canada and was the North American Leader for AXIS Implementation, and have now started a second company.
- SOA Award: I was awarded the SOA President’s Award 2018.
- SOA Video: I was featured in an SOA “Society of Achievers” - coming as a refugee to Canada in 1972.
- One of the Global Leading Actuaries 2015: Jan 2016 Acquisition International magazine.
- Leadership Support: I was encouraged to consider a Board position by several SOA staff and past Presidents. This is my second year applying for an SOA Board position.
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.
I am on two Boards. I am the Chair of Hospice Toronto which helps with hospice at home, young caregivers, expressive arts, homeless residential, etc. I was the Treasurer & Chair of Risk & Finance Committee. I have attended many of the Governance Committee meetings. I am also on the Board of The Neighborhood Organization which helps immigrants with education, jobs, and other support. I am on the Governance Committee. We worked on a Strategy Plan on both Boards.
I worked at KPMG LLP as part of Risk Management, where we advised many clients on risk management including proper governance. I have also been involved with a community-based funeral plan where we have recommended and implemented better governance.
I was a minister for three years which is a voluntary position and requires most of your evenings and weekends. We had a congregation of about 2,200 people. This involved weddings, funerals, baptism, the sick, and elderly.
My diverse background coming to North America as a refugee, Board and leadership experience and knowledge, Canadian perspective, and my extensive experience as a successful entrepreneur will all help me make a significant positive contribution to the SOA Board.
Please list your relevant volunteer experience. Please include the name of the organization, your role, and approximate dates
Hospice Toronto Board (Oct 2016 – Present)
The Neighborhood Organization (July 2019 – Present)
SOA COVID-19 Research Team (March 2020 – Present)
SOA Employers Council (2018-Present)
CIA Actuarial Guidance Council (2019-Present)
CIA COVID-19 Research Team (March 2020-Present)
Minister (Voluntary position – July 2009 – July 2012)
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.
Being on two Boards, being a professional, and being an employer, I know the importance of good strong ethics and maintaining the right balance between transparency and confidentiality.
A situation where you may disagree (and possibly strongly disagree) with the majority of the Board on a certain Board decision. This is rare but can happen. We had to decide on a firm to engage for a significant mandate. I had a prior relationship with one of the firms. I declared this conflict ahead of time. The rest of the Board agreed that it was okay for me to vote despite this prior relationship if I felt that I could act independently and make a fair decision. It came down to superior service versus cost. I was in favor of superior service and felt the additional cost was worth the difference in cost. A majority of the Committee favored the cost savings. I respected and supported the decision of the Committee and the Board.
I will employ these high ethical standards and values as I have throughout my career and in my leadership volunteer positions.
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 am the Chair of the Board for a charity. Before this, I was the Treasurer and Chair of the Risk & Finance Committee. I joined the Board over three years ago. The charity was going through a rough time financially. I worked very hard as Treasurer and Chair of Finance & Risk to manage our finances well, including fund raising, and investing prudently. I worked on our Investment policy which included agreeing on our risk appetite. I also supported the recommendation that the charity introduce a Registered Retirement Saving Plan and supported salary increases for great performing staff to bring them back to market rates. My attitude was that we want to be a company that people really want to work for. After just being on the Board for two years, I was approached by the then Chair of the Board to see if I would run for the Board Chair. He was planning not to run. He told me that I had unanimous support on the Board. They felt that I had done a great job and was very passionate about the cause and the organization. I was humbled and honored to be asked to be Board Chair after just serving two years on the Board.
Another example was my work at KPMG. I became “North American Leader, AXIS implementation” and had to deal with working as a team between Canada and US. I help create a team approach even though the two had different financials. The objective was that “we cannot go wrong if we put our client’s interest first” (for the SOA, putting the public interest first). This meant giving them the best available resource regardless of where they work, Canada or US.
Describe how you stay intellectually engaged and how you will apply your personal knowledge.
I agreed to do some modelling (pro-bono) for a community. They were interested in the planning for the potential of mass funerals and how bad it could get. I did some research on infection rates, case fatality rates, and timing of deaths, and gave them the assumptions I used using a few different scenarios. The SOA research team was made aware of my work and I agreed to join them. I have also gotten involved with the CIA research team and with Appointed Actuaries and Senior Actuaries in the Caribbean with the CAA. I feel that the Actuarial profession should be in the “front row” on COVID-19 and not at the “back of the room”. We need to look at both the past and project the future using several scenarios. It is very important for us to be transparent about the assumptions we are making.
One student looking for a job asked me for advice. He had an interview in a couple of days. I told him that in Canada, the biggest thing the industry is facing is IFRS 17. I gave him material on the standards, an executive summary of the standard, typical issues faced by the industry, etc. He spent time reviewing the material and got the job. He said that the company was very impressed with his knowledge.
My daughter is writing the SOA exams. I keep up to date on the new material and restructuring of the exams. I like that the SOA is looking at putting more material on the exams that will help the students be better prepared for employment and that it is expanding our offering to attract non-traditional employers to consider hiring actuaries.
I can help the SOA with its strategic plan and long-term growth vision.
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.
I value both my time and the time of others. As you gain more experience and are financially on stable ground, the most important thing in life becomes your time.
As the Board Chair of a charity, I make sure that each meeting has an agenda, with an expected start and end time, that is given out to the attendees ahead of time. Board members are expected to “pre-read” the material (it is important to distribute the material well ahead of time to give Board members sufficient time to read the material) before attending Board meetings. All action items should be assigned to one person for accountability with an expected timeline set by the person who is accountable (for them to buy in).
From a work perspective, as a Consultant, time is money. It is important to focus on material issues and spend sufficient time doing the work properly without spending a lot of time on immaterial things that can take up a lot of time and energy (and the client’s money). I do my best to keep my meetings efficient and avoid Friday afternoon meetings. Of course, some of the SOA Board meetings are over the weekends just because of the nature of the volunteer work as SOA Board members.
I have made a special effort on my personal time to visit the SOA office (of course I prearranged the visit) and spend some time with the SOA staff. They did several presentations including the research work that was being done. Also, being on the Employers Council and being a Corporate Sponsor, I have had ample interaction with the SOA staff. They are an amazing team and I greatly value their dedication and expertise.