Hans J. Wagner, FSA 1992
Brief Description of the type of work you currently do:
Risk Management focused on China Life, Savings and Health business and global Life & Savings product issues
Primary Area of Practice:
Life, Risk Management
Other Areas of Practice/Interests:
Asset-Liability Management, Capital Management, Financial Reporting
Why do you want to be on the Board?
The actuarial profession’s role contributing to society- helping individuals and communities manage the financial impacts of uncertainty- initially attracted me and has kept me committed. Having been richly rewarded by my career, I support the profession in a variety of ways while the profession plays its societal role. Shaping strategy on the SOA Board is a logical progression, leading actuarial evolution during a time of unprecedented challenge and opportunity. I will bring an unusual global perspective while working with folks on the Board, staff, and volunteers with whom it has been great to collaborate on various projects in the past.
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.
During my 30+ year insurance career I have succeeded in a wide variety of businesses and functions, as well as markets in four continents. My areas of practice have included:
- life, annuity, and health product development and pricing in multiple geographies for diverse customers through varied distribution channels,
- valuation and reporting in accounting frameworks including US GAAP, Australian MoS, French GAAP, IFRS, and Chinese Accounting Standards as well as multiple regulatory solvency bases,
- valuation and public reporting under various value frameworks,
- general financial management,
- enterprise risk management,
- capital management,
- mergers and acquisitions,
- strategic planning, and
- employee benefits valuation and management as an insurer and as an employer.
My experience includes working for subsidiaries and holding companies and stock and mutual companies, covering both group and individual insurance. Besides working at insurers, my experience includes auditing and consulting for insurers and regulators as well as participating in a wide range of industry bodies including the CFO Forum Embedded Value Working Group, the IASB Employee Benefits Advisory Group, and as a founding Director of the Life and Longevity Markets Association. Most of my work has been with life, annuity, and health insurance, but I have Property/Casualty experience.
I worked as a teacher before starting my actuarial career and have participated in designing and delivering a range of successful training programs about different subjects and for a variety of audiences. I am a high-quality communicator both one-to-one and with wider groups, whether face-to-face, in writing, or electronically.
My wide range of experiences has given me exposure to a variety of topics and situations that can be valuable to the Board governance process. I am well prepared to listen and absorb the ideas of others, while contributing thoughts based on integrating my background with their input and forging paths through building consensus.
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.
The SOA’s richest resource is its member-volunteers. The Board’s most important decisions are the strategies to deploy that resource. My experience across a range of SOA activities has built knowledge and appreciation of the member-volunteer capabilities, while experience in other organizations has provided lessons in differing contexts and options for governance and execution.
I have been an SOA volunteer for almost 30 years, across a range of areas listed below. These cover just a part of SOA activities but provide a foundation for further work on the Board.
I also have had a wide range of other governance experiences, both in companies and outside bodies. Relevant experience includes:
- Chair of the European CFO Forum Embedded Value Working Group,
- founding director of the Life and Longevity Markets Association,
- working closely with the Boards of several insurers,
- Senior Management role at ICBC-AXA Life,
- management roles at subsidiaries and corporate centers,
- member of the IASB’s Employee Benefits Advisory Group,
- Station Director at 2 student radio stations, and
- President of a co-operative residence and dining hall.
Building global perspectives is an important focus in the Strategic Plan, and my skills and experiences are well suited to contributing to the Board in that area.
Please list your relevant volunteer experience. Please include the name of the organization, your role, and approximate dates.
Society of Actuaries:
- mentor in the pilot mentorship program (current)
- member of Professional Development and Membership Engagement Task Force (2019-current)
- member of China Committee (2016-2018)
- member of Adapting Education for International Needs Task Force (2017-2018)
- Supervisor of Paris Exam Center (approx. 2005-2011)
- sponsor of professional development projects (early 2000s)
- Asia-Pacific region Ambassador Coordinator and member of International Section Council (2000ish)
- member of Valuation Actuary Symposium planning committee (late 90s)
- member of Education and Examination Committees including as an Exam Vice-Chairperson and developing the then-new Finance Track (1990s)
- speaker and author (intermittently 1995-current)
Oberlin College Admissions Office
- prospective and admitted student contact (2004-current)
USA Girl Scouts:
- parent and assisting my wife who was troop leader and multiple-troop coordinator (2011-2018)
Walhalla Goldfields Railway
- worker on right-of-way maintenance and track construction (2000)
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.
As a Board member, I would make decisions focused on the needs and standards of the SOA, carefully weighing member input to broaden my perspectives and meet our membership’s needs.
I do not expect any significant ethics/transparency challenges in the role of an SOA Board member. I envision two types that could potentially arise:
- areas where the interests of the SOA could conflict with my personal interest, my employer’s interest, or the interests of another party of significance to me
- areas where transparency and confidentiality would be competing, such as keeping Board matters private while keeping good communication with members.
In the first type, as a Board member I need to act in the interests of the SOA, full stop. While differing views of how to do that might be valid, under no circumstances could I put another party first.
Regarding the second type, I endorse the saying “sunlight is the best disinfectant”, while also recognizing the need for appropriate confidentiality and privacy. Issues can be complex but consulting with other Board members and staff I am confident in maintaining standards one day at a time as challenges arise while also keeping long-term consistency.
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.
Good team members can fill a variety of roles, often simultaneously.
I had multiple roles serving as the Chair of the European Insurance CFO Forum Embedded Value Working Group during the development of the European Market Consistent Embedded Value Principles. The CFO Forum draws together over a dozen insurers to improve financial reporting and regulation, with the EV Working Group supporting the CFOs. We needed consensus from a multinational group of actuaries and other professionals, supported by consultants, facing different local business and valuation practices with some focused mostly on a few markets while others had global businesses.
Leading that team required careful listening and assisting communication so that all members built a shared understanding that the approaches adopted were the best choice for the group, even if not perfectly aligned with their initial views. We needed to reach technical decisions but also develop rationales that the team agreed and could gain support from outside constituents. We also had to win approval of the CFO Forum itself, with an even more diverse group of personalities and interests. The leaders of one team are often the “grunts” of a broader team.
I participated in crafting and delivering presentations that the CFO Forum made to the market announcing the updated Principles, as well as discussions with the IASB and various regulators within and outside Europe. While the Principles were surely not perfect, they were an important stepping stone towards improving financial and business reporting, and I am very proud of the achievements of the Working Group.
As a member of the Board, I would welcome the opportunity to build on past successes and help implement the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan and develop the next Plan, while standing ready to take on varied roles on different projects as the situation demanded.
Describe how you stay intellectually engaged and how you will apply your personal knowledge as an Elected Board Member.
“May you live in interesting times” is an amusing ironic curse, even if its alleged Chinese origins are untrue. We live in very interesting times, and while not on the epidemic front-line actuaries have an important role helping society develop post-Covid-19. Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to develop new techniques, markets, and businesses and to work with peers to enhance the contribution our profession and the insurance industry can make to society. The SOA can enhance its research and education role to assist with global challenges and strengthen the role of the actuarial profession and I look forward to helping the Board supply direction.
Having lived and worked in the US, Australia, France and China while managing businesses in many additional markets, I have the contacts and interest that make it natural for me to stay abreast of developments across the globe. I enjoy seeing how products and practices from one market can be applied in another and what legal and cultural barriers are hurdles to cross-border application. Each country and locality has had a unique reaction to the challenges of Covid-19, and there will be both strong local variations and common global themes in adjusting to the financial, social, and technological opportunities and challenges moving forward.
I have been fortunate that AXA is committed to innovation and developing people so it provides many training resources to staff. I read a variety of general news and insurance-specific publications both in print and digital media as well as use AXA and personal networks to stay current on developments. I also attend internal and external seminars as another means of staying current. I have had the opportunity to participate personally or through my teams on a variety of regulatory and professional development task forces in China, Europe, and globally.
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.
Frugality as a positive thing is an old-fashioned concept that I learned at a young age. I continue to believe in and exercise the similar more modern concept of being a good custodian of resources, being a cautious spender of both personal and corporate resources, while recognizing that reasonable expenditures are appropriate and investments are necessary. A few concrete examples are:
- driving business process re-engineering to increase efficiency and save expenses in my teams,
- in-sourcing trading grid generation for a capped volatility fund with synthetic hedging used to back a variable annuity in China,
- developing effective but cost-effective training programs to enhance performance and employee engagement while controlling costs,
- designing distribution compensation schemes to balance motivation with cost,
- setting careful priorities in systems development to deliver all necessary functions along with additional functions that are cost-effective while avoiding spending on unnecessary and inefficient options,
- while assisting my wife in her volunteer work as a Girl Scout leader, we controlled costs by re-using materials from event to event, improved the environment with re-usable materials rather than disposables, and made using resources wisely a key theme for the girls.
As a member of the Board, I would carefully evaluate the cost and benefits of proposed initiatives to ensure the financial and other resources of the SOA are efficiently deployed. The talents and energy of SOA member-volunteers and staff are even more precious resources than finances, and accordingly must also be deployed wisely.