Chris Pezalla

Get to Know Chris Pezalla, Executive Vice President at Newcleus

At Newcleus, we believe in providing our clients with full transparency. In an effort to display this value, we’ve decided to give you a little insight into who our team is beyond Newcleus. 

We’ll start with a Q&A with Chris Pezalla, Executive Vice President at Newcleus.

Chris Pezalla

Chris Pezalla, Executive Vice President at Newcleus, grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, spending his time outdoors: skiing, biking, running, hiking, fishing, and exploring.

With his Bachelor’s in economics and statistics and a Master’s in actuarial science, Pezalla has been in the insurance industry for over twenty years. He has worked for three insurance carriers in a variety of actuarial roles while studying for and earning his Fellowship in the Society of Actuaries (FSA).

When asked why he does what he does, Pezalla answered: “I spend a good part of my time working with our financial institution clients and the insurance companies that we distribute products for, seeking to understand the financial and regulatory challenges they face, and partnering with them to find ways to work through those challenges.” 

He continued, “The constantly changing business landscape, the market and the interest rate environment, competitive landscape, swings in the political environment, and the pandemic… All this change keeps businesses on their toes and presents many interesting opportunities for those on the lookout for them. Being part of finding and developing those opportunities is extremely rewarding for me. 

I also like that I’ve had the opportunity to travel and get to know people from across the country. The diversity of people, culture, food, and climate has all been interesting to learn about and fun to experience.”

Traveling and moving is something that Pezalla has experienced a lot. Having owned over six homes, he and his wife have shared and enjoyed the experience of remodeling and building homes together.

About 14 years ago, Pezalla and his family made the move from Fargo, North Dakota to Pennsylvania. “It was a big change for the family,” Pezalla explains. “I like to say that even after all these years, we are still acclimating to the east coast. It’s too crowded here for me!”

The reason behind the move? “We were looking for an adventure, and were excited about the opportunity to change from working for a large insurance company,” which he describes as a “slowly moving culture” to an insurance brokerage, with a high-intensity culture.

Today, Pezalla says he absolutely loves the BOLI and NQDC industry. “Working with our clients, this is what keeps me here and gets me up and motivated every morning… The opportunity to build something great. To lay out the plan, work through it one step at a time, and sit back when it’s done and enjoy the accomplishment.

Both in my work and personal lives I am constantly planning and building something, I don’t have much time to sit around and watch TV. Remodeling the master bath in my house, expanding my perennial gardens, developing a new BOLI product that fits an underserved niche, researching bank-eligible investment options for use within BOLI, planning a process to help our advisors assist our clients with nontraditional insurance needs. There is so much to do and so little time!

By nature, I like to control how things go. I normally have an opinion on the optimal way to deal with a situation. Over the years I’ve learned that solving a problem for someone is less valuable to them than stepping into it with them and working through it with them, letting them earn their own success or failure.”

When we asked Pezalla how he has overcome adversity in his life, he offered: “I have to say that in America, when we talk about overcoming adversity, we really don’t have much to talk about compared to some people in other parts of the world. We have all been blessed beyond measure with opportunities, wealth, and freedom to express ourselves. 

I might have worked hard to put myself through college and graduate school, worked hard to hold a job and complete the actuarial exams, worked hard at being a good husband and father of four great kids, but looking back anyone can do this with all that I’ve been given. You could chalk this up to a little grit, faith in God, and belief in self.”

And now, it’s time for some advice. When asked to give a young entrepreneur a checklist of things they must do to succeed, Pezalla offers:

I have a favorite term, irrational optimism. Start each day, and view each challenge, with a sense of irrational optimism. Don’t take no as an answer. Make the same request in a different tone, on a different day, in a different way, keep trying.

You need to work harder than your competition, push yourself, only you can earn your success. However, life is short, don’t lose sight of the importance of faith and family.

Don’t blame others for your failures, use them as a learning experience. If you haven’t failed recently you aren’t trying hard enough. Give back, be generous with your time and finances. I believe that you can’t outgive God, and he will bless you for being generous.”

To end on a fun, introspective note, we asked Pezalla, if you were to look back from the age of 80 and tell yourself anything, what would it be? “I don’t know, I’m not 80 yet. I still have a lot to learn about life!” Pezalla jokes. “Invest in Microsoft and spend more time hunting and fishing!”

And lastly, what does Pezalla value most in others? Candor, which is exactly what we at Newcleus bring to the table. Work with someone you can trust—contact us at Newcleus today!