Nazir Valani FSA, FCIA, MAAA
President & Co-Founder
Nazir Valani FSA, FCIA, MAAA is President and co-founder of Valani Global. He specializes in Moody’s products (AXIS, IFRS17 Link, RiskIntegrity), software conversions, actuarial transformations, appointed actuary work, life products, annuities, CALM, US statutory, and US GAAP.
Prior to Valani Global, Nazir has worked in the insurance industry, and at GGY AXIS. Nazir started a life actuarial consulting firm and developed it from a one-person shop to the second-largest life actuarial practice in Canada. Nazir received the Society of Actuaries President’s award in 2018 and was featured in their “Society of Achievers” video.
I was 14-years-old. It was 1972. This dictator, Idi Amin, took over. The military had been given freedom to do whatever they wanted. If you were the wrong race, he said you had to leave. So even though we were third-generation Ugandan, and we had Ugandan passports, we had to leave.
1972 we emigrated to Canada. I was in grade 10 when I arrived in Canada, then went onto university, finished in London, Ontario, at the University of Western Ontario. My parents wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer. I took chemistry for two years. I hated the labs. One summer I took a pure math course, I don't know why. So I ended up with a 97 on the course, and that told me I was good at problem-solving, and that my future was in math. I asked one of my professors what should I do in math, and he said you can either teach or you can become an actuary. And I said, what is an actuary?
Took me a long time to get my qualification. I did two years of chemistry, then wanted to finish my math degree. When I graduated, I had no actuarial exams. I started a family and also career. I was in supervisory positions fairly early in my career. So when I was doing my ASA, I was having problems with one of the exams. My boss called me in and he said, "Nazir, I wanna be honest with you, you should "pick a different career. "You're not smart enough to become an actuary." I wanted to prove him wrong, and I did.
1980 I started as an actuarial student after talking to my boss, I continued, got my associateship, and continued my journey to complete my fellowship. Getting my FSA was a very long road, but it's my single most important educational achievement.
At KPMG, I'm the national leader for the actuarial practice in Canada, I'm also the North American leader for AXIS implementation. So as leader of actuarial practice at KPMG, I'm in charge of four areas: audit, pensions, AXIS implementation, and traditional life insurance actuarial work. For 2021, we're also working on international financial reporting standards. The actuarial models need to be reconfigured. The assumptions need to be reset. We need to figure out the impact to the financial industry. It's a lot of work, very exciting.
We provide an end-to-end solution for actuarial transformation for AXIS. It involves data, it involves modeling, and it involves reporting. A lot can go wrong in these projects, so we use best practices, dynamic modeling. Dynamic modeling can be more work, but it's much more efficient in the long run.
Without my FSA, I wouldn't have had all these opportunities. It's opened up a lot of doors for me. The FSA is a very rigorous process. It trains you to solve very difficult and challenging problems. They're putting in more practical exams, including modules, they're adding predictive analytics, which is really a very hot topic that it's nice to see that the actuaries will be at
a cutting edge of that field.
There's a big demand for actuaries with predictive analytics background, it's great to see that the SOA has added that in the curriculum, and we'd love to hire people with that background.
My daughter Sara is writing her ASA exams, and she's keeping me up to date about
all these improvements to the curriculum. “And I like that the SOA is adding more relevant and practical material. Yeah, I think it's great 'cause we run into data analytics all the time, it's
the up and coming thing.”
My focus is to build the best actuarial practice in the industry. The SOA exams together with
the right practical experience makes you the best of the best. At KPMG, we're hiring younger
actuaries and I've been very impressed with the work they've done. To be a really successful actuary, you have to go above and beyond. At one point in my career, my boss came to me and said he had heard that if there's an impossible task, give it to me and tell me it's impossible, and I'll get it done.
As important as work is, I believe in giving back. I'm involved with a number of organizations
and community initiatives to give back. I feel it's important to leave the world better than you found it.
That kind of sums up my life. My journey from Uganda to Canada, getting my FSA has been long and difficult, but well worth it. My name is Nazir Valani, and I'm a proud Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.