Christmas is around the corner (sure does not feel like it) but ironically feels premature given the prolonged months of slow activity during 2020 for reasons well-known.
Earlier in the year I remembered the wise words of my mentor, who said the demand for actuaries tends to shoot up during times of crises and often falls in good times as discussions of “risk” are less prevalent amongst the decision makers of the companies in which most actuaries are employed.
Risk is certainly on the table and that has driven a steady demand for actuaries for the bulk of this year, with the exception of few months at the early onslaught of the COVID-19 lockdown. My feeling is that most actuarial departments, including consultancies, are busier than ever for one simple reason – “risk is back on the table”.
This, combined with an already shaky environment in the life insurance industry due to claims issues, means the demand for actuarial analysis and advice is at an all-time high. Senior management and boards seem to be displaying a strong penchant for receiving it, not purely for risk management, but also as a key input into future planning for running of the businesses.
The demand in the life insurance sector has also been driven by integration work, brought upon by the huge amount of M&A activity over the last two years, product pricing work related to mandatory product changes for disability income products, increased focus and enhancement of skill sets for experience investigations work, and good old International Accounting Standard for Insurance Contracts (IFRS).
The demand for actuarial work and advice on the general insurance side has also increased as particular lines of business, like travel and credit lines, have been heavily impacted. Other lines such as personal lines and worker compensation are going through a period of abnormality – and actuaries are busy try to understand whether it is a cyclical or structural shift. IFRS is also contributing to demand for actuaries in general insurance.
I am also seeing fatigue setting in for a lot of actuaries as it has been a busy and demanding year, and this will have its own implications on the dynamics of actuarial talent pool movement in 2021.
I am very proud to be an actuary as the profession has proved its mettle in this very tough year, and actuarial advice is assisting insurance firms and other entities paddle their way through the present challenges and future uncertainty. Most actuaries are technically well-trained, studious and conscientious by nature and are therefore coping well in working productively from home and meeting their deliverables.
In fact, despite the cliches and stereotypes there are many well-rounded and confident actuaries who are shining in the current environment of remote working, where communication, or lack of it, is evident. It’s my view that the talent, abilities and generally empathetic nature of these individuals has enabled them to cope exceptionally well.
We have had a really busy year placing actuarial talent in variety of roles in an unprecedented year and we look forward to the resumption of some sort of normality in the new year.
OPINION PIECE - by Jas Singh (FIAA), Managing Director, SKL Actuarial