Ducking Retirement – Moskowitz plunges into corporate board

Ducking Retirement – Moskowitz plunges into corporate board

By Marcia Caller Jaffe | 

At age 61, Joey Moskowitz retired from a 27-year career at Primerica, where he served as valuation and chief actuary. Around that same time, he was on Rabbi Shalom Lewis’ trip to Israel from Congregation Etz Chaim.

Joey Moskowitz AJT
Joey Moskowitz

Noting that Rabbi Lewis had announced his change to rabbi emeritus in 2017, the two mused about how they would spend their future leisure time — hanging out at LA Fitness, doing charity work, reading more.

But Moskowitz cast a new fortune and was elected to one of the most prestigious boards of directors in the United States: AFLAC, based in Columbus, his hometown.

Here is our interview about his journey.

Jaffe: How did you get to be considered for a board of directors? Is there an application process?

Moskowitz: Being sentimental about my retirement, I sent three letters to those who had mentored me along the way. I had no motivation other than the expression of pure appreciation. One of those [now CFO and president of AFLAC], with whom I had worked 30 years ago, called the next day and said, “AFLAC has just been thinking about adding an actuary to our board.” I had to go through interviews with the CEO, CFO and other board members, all impressive business people, but ultimately the shareholders voted the approval.

Jaffe: In the old days, being on a board was a plum job, granted as a favor.

Moskowitz: Well, that has changed a lot. Let me tell you that being on a board today has tremendous responsibility and liability. It’s not like a full-time job, but there are quarterly meetings, conference calls, travel and other time commitments.

In today’s corporate world post-Enron, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has redefined the rules of what is known as corporate governance. Best practices in corporate governance call for certain skill sets, and AFLAC wanted an actuary. I was basically at the right place at the right time with the right skill set.

Jaffe: What is AFLAC’s history with Jewish board members?

Moskowitz: AFLAC is proudly a very diverse company. For the past 17 years, AFLAC has made Fortune magazine’s “Best 100 Places to Work” list; 67 percent of the workforce is female. To your question directly, the two most notable Jewish board members were Jack Schiffman, 1970 to 1994, and Henry Schwob, 1965 to 2002, both from Columbus.

Jaffe: So are you hobnobbing with the business elite?

Moskowitz: I did get to go quail hunting with the CEO, Dan Amos, in Harris County. As a Jewish boy, I had never fired a gun. So out of 25 shots, I got six birds that are still in my freezer. Is that good odds? I flew on the corporate jet and attended analysts meetings in New York. I will also travel to Japan this summer; 75 percent of AFLAC’s business is there.

Jaffe: How many people serve on the board, and what specifically will you do?

Moskowitz: Thirteen. I am on the audit committee [with four others].We review and monitor all financial disclosures, audits, risk management programs and internal controls. Remember this is an important function, given the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley.

Jaffe: So you have ties to Columbus, which wraps a bow around the package.

Moskowitz: Yes, growing up in Columbus, I won a math award at Hardaway High School, foreshadowing my career. AFLAC was well known to me. My family respected the company. My father, Lou, who would have been 100 next month, is beaming down with pride about this for sure. My parents are buried in Columbus less than a mile from AFLAC headquarters. It’s a great company, and I am blessed to have this opportunity to serve.

Jaffe: How does your wife feel about all this?

Moskowitz: She is thrilled that I am being rewarded for years of hard work. But she does tease me that I am a walking calculator.

Quack! Quack!

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