Kenneth “Ken” Clark, Past CIA President, passed away on September 3 at the age of 89. Ken was a guiding light for the profession, playing a crucial role in the development of professional standards for actuaries, being a true gentleman with admirable knowledge and wit, and acting as a role model and mentor for many.
Ken’s journey into the profession started with studying actuarial science at the University of Manitoba, from which he graduated as a gold medallist. He spent the next 10 years in the United States, initially working with the Prudential Insurance Company of America before moving to work with Milliman & Robertson, Inc. (now known as Milliman), the latter being an international practice of consulting actuaries.
Working at Milliman greatly inspired him, with Ken even writing in Our History. Notre histoire., the celebratory book published for the CIA’s 50th anniversary, that Wendell Milliman, one of its founders, “had a tremendous impact on me.” Moving back to Canada, Ken began a similar initiative in Toronto as it was a relatively untapped market.
“It happened slowly,” Ken said, referring to his growing practice. “I had to make a market by making myself conspicuous. I went to all the meetings, got to know the actuaries and insurers.”
Five years after establishing his firm, Ken was approached by Sam Eckler, who had a life insurance and benefits consulting practice and recognized Ken as the best person to lead it. Despite feeling torn over giving up his business and some initial misgivings, Ken accepted the invitation and joined Eckler, Brown, Segal & Company as a partner in 1978.
More than 30 years later and with Eckler regarded as one of the most respected actuarial consultancies in Canada, Ken would see the decision as a good move: “It didn’t work out the way I thought it would; it worked out better.”
Establishing himself as a successful professional in the Canadian actuarial space, Ken was elected as President of the CIA in 1986. While in this position, he was a key player in the development of the CIA’s Standards of Practice for Canadian actuaries.
“I made a start as President-Elect, and when I became President, I persuaded the Council that we needed a committee to work on this.” After his presidency, he was the first Chair of the Committee on the Consolidated Standards of Practice and worked on this project for over 10 years.
After passing the role of chair to Jim Paterson, Ken remained on the committee to do most of the drafting and made strides in convincing the somewhat skeptical membership: “I took every opportunity at meetings to speak on the subject. I made the round of the actuarial clubs and made luncheon dinner speeches after the rubber chicken had been served, and bit by bit we got a consensus.”
Ken had an extensive volunteer history with the CIA. Beyond serving as Chair of the Committee on the Consolidated Standards of Practice, he additionally chaired the Committee on Financial Reporting and contributed nearly 30 years of service volunteering for the CIA. He was recognized with the Award of Excellence (formerly known as the Gold Award) for his volunteer service in 2015.
Members of the Institute have shared their memories of Kenneth Clark:
“One of the actuarial greats.”
“Ken was instrumental in my joining Eckler and became a mentor and a close friend for nigh on 30 years. He was, as many of you know, a consummate professional, but what is most memorable to me are his wit and humour.”
“He was a giant, physically and professionally.”
“I am sorry to learn of Ken’s demise – he was a ‘towering’ influence in my life having known him since he joined the firm.”
“… a legend for his combination of ability and sometimes irreverent humour.”
As we mourn his passing and celebrate his legacy, we encourage you to share your memories of Ken in the comments below.
I worked closely with Ken on life insurance financial reporting standards in the 80s. We were considering major changes, some very controversial, such as the treatment of participating insurance. When deciding which approach to take on a particular topic, Ken would recommend something because, in this words, ” It’s the right thing to do”. This made a major impression on me. I co-opted this criterion for decision-making during my subsequent working and personal life: Choose this because it’s the right thing to do. Thanks, Ken.
How very sad it is to have lost one of the profession’s greats. Ken inspired me and many others to devote our time and energy to CIA. He will be sorely missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to have known him.
I am sorry to hear of Ken’s passing. I know little about his practice as an actuary but what I do know is he was an intellectual giant behind the consolidation of our standards of practice. While I pushed back on some of his ideas at the time, as time has passed I have come to see his wisdom. We were lucky he chose our club.
I had the very good fortune to have worked with Ken on the Consolidated Standards (aka the Green Monster in its early version). I was most impressed with his fine mind. He challenged so much of what we took as given in the pension standards, pointing out potential inconsistencies between pension and insurance standards, often pushing back but in the end usually accepting the logic for the outcome of historical debates that had led to the then current standards. His expert use of the English language was second to nobody else I had encountered in my professional life – he would take any sentence and cut it back to its bare essentials, leaving a construct of beauty. And I did so enjoy his sense of humour, always delivered with either a straight face or a delightful smirk (much like the photo you have included here). Ken, I learned a great deal from you, my life is much the richer, and I greatly miss you.
I had not seen Ken for many years. But I do have a picture of Ken from the mid-1970’s when he attended one of my scavenger hunts in Ellicottville New York sitting in a perfectly erect position with eyes shut oblivious to the surrounding mayhem . Always a gentleman with a quick wit and wonderful command of the English language. Truly a unique individual who will be missed.