The insurance industry is in the gradual process of creating a hybrid actuary and data scientist. To keep up with the changes and expectations from stakeholders and customers alike, the integration of these two parallel professional forces is critical to increasing the value of any analytical function in an insurance organisation.
The actuary and data scientist hybrid
The most natural integration in the insurance industry is underway and it makes us wonder why it has taken so long for the creation to happen. Up until recently there hasn’t been a huge demand for actuaries and data scientists to connect, let alone combine forces. It is a necessary link within an analytics-based function and provides a modern steppingstone in an otherwise traditional industry -both skillsets have a lot to contribute.
However, it is important to emphasise that for some companies this integration is a very gradual process. The question of how long companies can hold off making this transition is debatable when global names like Swiss Re are making it clear they see this as a priority at a senior level.
On the other hand, others are looking to try and hire junior professionals who already have a data science background with an understanding of R & Python, to come in and give the teams a fresh outlook and add value. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 18 months to two years and how large organisations are able to plan for further advances in technology within the insurance industry.
Overcoming the challenges
The retention of data scientists and recruiting them in the first place within the walls of an otherwise traditional insurance structure is a challenge of its own. Establishing and clearly defining where data science fits into the existing structure and company strategy will play a vital role in the interaction that has with the actuarial function.
The speed at which technology and big data is pushing for immediate changes across the industry, data scientists and actuaries need learn from each other so the demand for analytical excellence is achieved.
Make the most of this opportunity
Although the perceivably slow-paced insurance industry is now trying to play catch up with the start-ups and major tech savvy names of the world, the union between data scientists and actuaries creates an unmissable opportunity for clients and candidates alike, and can position them ahead of the curve or as an in-demand employer.
I can see this being a significant priority this year for those looking to make strides in the sector, as hiring managers equip themselves with knowledge of data science tools and provide a career path structure that will deter data scientists from joining the ranks of modern start-ups.