Introduce Yourself: Jean-Guy Lapointe


1. Why did you become an actuary?
Because I liked maths and I wanted to get more challenges in studying at the university. I wanted to study what was supposed to be the most difficult program. I realized that the actuarial science is not so difficult but the actuarial exams make it tougher.

2. When you tell people you’re an actuary, what do they think you do?
They think I work with numbers in pension plans or that I do calculations on everything. They know sometimes we are predicting the future or that we are good in finance and accounting but they don’t fully understand the difference between an actuary, an accountant, an economist, or an MBA. Even some professionals think that actuaries have a good knowledge of maths but ignore that we also have a good knowledge of finance, and probably that we are the experts in insurance and pensions. They often think insurance and pension knowledge is acquired at work such that anyone else could do it.

3. Who has inspired you the most during your career? Did you have a mentor in your early career?
One well-known Québec actuary, Claude Castonguay, who was health minister in the Québec government in late 1960s created the interest for me to be an actuary. One very good actuary and manager (Jacques Roy, who was Superintendent of Insurance in Québec and who died at about 50 in the 1990s) was a good mentor for me.

4. What do you enjoy most about your job?
In my work, I need to consider many different elements, opinions, views, ideas, etc., and to find an appropriate solution that would work well and would be acceptable in theory and practice to many people and organizations. I also like discussing and negotiating for the solution.

5. What career would you follow if you weren’t an actuary?
I would have been an engineer or architect.

6. What are your hobbies?
Watching TV, seeing movies, boating, attending musical shows, visiting friends and regions or travelling.

7. What is your favourite music, book, and film?
My favorite musical group is Abba. I like many singers, some classical and pop, like Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, and Céline Dion. Some French singers are my favorite because of their songs, like Charles Aznavour, for example, who is a great composer and songwriter who could be compared to Elton John. I don’t read much and prefer biographies or books inspired by true stories. One of the good films that I saw was La Vie en Rose (called La Môme in France) on the life of Edith Piaf, who was a great French singer in the 1950s and died at 48 in the early 1960s.

8. Where is your dream vacation destination?
I like very much going to Europe, particularly France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, and Austria. I also like going to the Caribbean islands. I have never been to Argentina, and I would like to go there.

9. What do you do better than anyone you know?
I generally try to find the best solution to any problem and keep looking for it until I get one. I think I am good at this as I have a lot of imagination and not many prejudices about any view, opinion, or new idea.

10. If you could be anybody else, alive or dead, who would it be, and why?
Nobody is perfect and I do not generally have any idols. However, there are some great people in the world, like Mahatma Gandhi, General de Gaulle, Churchill, or Nelson Mandela. I think people working hard to help others and for peace in the world are the greatest. Maybe I would like to be the Pope or some religious leader to change a few things that could help people of different religions to better understand each other. However, I would not like to live like they do, as I prefer more freedom.

Jean-Guy Lapointe is a life insurance capital specialist at the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.

If you would like to take part in Introduce Yourself, this link will take you to an English survey form. In the upper right corner, there is a selection box where you can choose to work on the English or French survey.

Canadian Institute of Actuaries/Institut canadien des actuaires