Eames Consulting Group has been working closely with senior actuarial professionals in Asia to get their perspective on the 2020 market, the future of the actuarial industry and how to get the most out of your career. We have put together a series of interviews with key actuaries from different cities and interesting insight into the market across the region.
How do you see the actuarial market in Hong Kong developing over the next couple of years and how would you say it differs from other areas of the region?
Actuaries will play a greater role in insurance companies as Hong Kong moves towards the implementation of RBC and IFRS17. What I have seen in other Asian countries is that when regulators implement new frameworks or standards that require actuarial involvement, this has ultimately resulted in a higher demand for local actuarial resources. As such, I foresee a similar increase in demand for qualified actuaries in Hong Kong particularly in the non-life area over the next few years.
For an aspiring junior actuary, do you have any advice for them as they grow in their career and what can they do to stand out?
As junior actuaries progress in their career, they should focus on developing and strengthening transferable skills beyond the typical actuarial methodologies. Transferable skills such as data analysis, problem solving and prediction/forecasting can be applied not only to actuarial problems, but also to various business situations and emerging challenges such as in the current COVID-19 environment. These skills are fundamental to generate invaluable insights for the management team to steer the company in the right direction.
How difficult would you say the step was for you to broaden your remit from an Actuary to more of a commercial role becoming head of personal lines at Generali?
Actuaries are exposed to many aspects of the company from their involvement in pricing, reserving, risk management and solvency. Thus actuaries can broaden their scope with some effort based on their past experience, expertise and interest as it is a natural extension of their involvement. In order to do this, it is important to discuss and create a career development plan with your manager based on your aspirations. The challenge however will be to learn the other aspects of the business beyond the technical function. A few ways that has helped me to gain this knowledge is through on-job experience, frequent interaction with key personnel (underwriters/claims/distribution team) and getting involved in cross-functional taskforces.
What innovative initiatives do you see being vital over the next 12-18 months for insurance businesses in the current climate?
In the current COVID-19 environment, consumer adoption of products and services sold through online channels have greatly accelerated. Therefore, I believe having a pure digital insurance product will be important not only because of the current physical/social-distancing restrictions, but due to the shift in consumer demand and mindset that we have begun to observe. A digital insurance solution should have a complete end-to-end online customer experience including sales through digital channels, e-policy issuance and support, as well as simplified underwriting and claims processes among other touchpoints. The insurance industry currently lags other consumer retail segments in terms of digital sales adoption. However, the current environment presents a perfect opportunity for the industry to rethink the process of doing business moving forward.
How do you see the role of an actuary evolving over time?
With the development of AI and automation, I foresee the actuary will become more and more important as a key person linking together the technical function and the business. As data will become more available in both volume and frequency, the actuary will play a vital role in interpreting the vast information, drawing conclusions and providing advice to the management team. Some of the standard reserving, pricing and data analysis processes will become automated over time as well. As a result, I foresee the actuary will spend more time analysing the results (rather than preparing the data), and will play an important role of making judgement or adjustments based on their knowledge of the business and market conditions which have yet to be captured in the data.
How important do you feel it is for an aspiring actuary to gain exposure to pricing and reserving over their career to have experience across both aspects?
An actuary should try to gain exposure to both pricing and reserving at some point early on in his/her career as both these areas are interrelated. As a reserving actuary, it is important to understand the implication of pricing changes to the reserving assumptions. Likewise, the pricing actuary needs to understand the impact of pricing on the reserves and overall solvency of the company.