Vinaya Sharma is one of a growing number of people who see the PRM as a valuable tool to advance their careers


Name: Vinaya Sharma, PRM, FSA
Title: Actuary
Company: Allstate Life Insurance Company Northbrook IL USA
Job Function: Previous head of Enterprise Risk Management at Allstate Life.

Implemented an ERM program that helps quantify overall financial exposure to certain risks at Allstate Life, as well liaison with all parts of the company for increased communication and awareness of risk profile.

Background: I joined Allstate Life in 1999. In addition to ERM work, I've worked on the company's internal liquidity task force, capital analysis, financial reporting, as well as represent Allstate Life on numerous external committees. Prior to joining Allstate Life, I worked at Ernst & Young doing work on a major demutualization and previously at The Principal Financial Group, where I helped implement an ALCO system at its mortgage subsidiary. I received his Bachelors Degree in Business from Drake University (1993), my Fellowship from the Society of Actuaries (1996), and the PRM designation in 2003.

What have been the key factors to success in your career?

Being exposed to a variety of different businesses is one of the key factors. I have had several job experiences (even within my own company due to rotations). That is a struggle since it seems I start from zero at each new spot, but I find that afterward there is growth in my skills that I would not have had otherwise.

I like to think that I have utmost integrity. I look long term and do what's best for the company. Once you sacrifice your principles once, it becomes easier the second time and even easier the third; a slippery slope indeed!

A willingness to learn can not be discounted either.

What interesting projects are you working on right now?

I just finished my ERM rotation where I implemented a 'one man ERM'. It is admittedly different from many other ERM structures, but it helps to capture overall profile for our company of several key risks (eg equity, credit, interest rates, etc) on a periodic basis. The ERM structure has also established tolerances to those risks based on internal and external views.

I have recently moved to the Payout Annuity area. With the Baby Boomer generation fast approaching retirement, it is necessary to have retirement options available that are flexible, yet also provides a lifetime payout (a feature rather unique to annuities). This rotation also gives me more insight into a risk that most risk managers do not deal with: Mortality

Why did you decide to pursue the PRM?

The PRM designation seemed like a natural progression given my previous involvement with ERM. It helped expand my knowledge base on operational risk, credit risk, and market risk techniques. My FSA designation has exposed me to several of these already, so the 'cross-over' exam credits in addition to my prior knowledge made the PRM designation fit hand-in-glove.

How does the PRM benefit those who prepare for and pass it?

Speaking from an actuarial/insurance point of view, it made me more cognizant of what goes on in other financial services for risk management. It made me realize that some of the same techniques are used in insurance (though admittedly the liabilities are normally much longer)

In general, the PRM will give exposure to risk techniques for those new to the field. For those more experienced, the case studies help identify problems at other companies and ways to avoid those at your own (better the devil you know!)

What would you say to others who are considering the PRM?

The PRM designation is a very worthwhile endeavor, particularly for those that receive partial credit through the 'cross-over' program.

About Allstate

The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer. Widely known through the "You're In Good Hands With AllstateĀ®" slogan, Allstate provides insurance products to more than 16 million households and has approximately 12,300 exclusive agents and financial specialists in the U.S. and Canada. Customers can access Allstate products and services through Allstate agents, or in select states at and 1-800 Allstate. Allstate Financial Group includes the businesses that provide life insurance, retirement and investment products, through Allstate agents, workplace marketing, independent agents, banks and securities firms.

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