The Young Actuaries Conference: An Overview

Read­ing time: 5 mins

Avan­ti Pat­ki and Tim­o­thy Lam review last week’s pop­u­lar Young Actu­ar­ies Con­fer­ence, unpack­ing its four key themes ‘Actu­ar­i­al Pass­port – where to next?’, ‘Actu­ary of the Future’, ‘Talk­ing the talk’ and ‘Strate­gic Think­ing, Lead­er­ship and Per­son­al Brand’.

An avid audi­ence of more than 140 young actu­ar­ies work­ing in the indus­try sat wait­ing in antic­i­pa­tion as the Vice Pres­i­dent of the Actu­ar­ies Insti­tute, Nico­lette Rubin­sztein, opened the very first Young Actu­ar­ies Con­fer­ence held by the Actu­ar­ies Insti­tute. 

The con­fer­ence, tai­lored specif­i­cal­ly for actu­ar­ies clos­er to the begin­ning of their career, kicked off with a mes­sage from Jen­ny Lyon and Nico­lette empha­sis­ing the impor­tance of hav­ing younger actu­ar­ies active and engaged in shap­ing the future of the pro­fes­sion. The ple­nar­ies, each with their own flavour, were rich with expe­ri­ences and per­son­al sto­ries from each of the speak­ers and the key high­lights have been pro­vid­ed below.

Plenary 1: Actuarial Passport – where to next?

With trav­el being one of the high­est pri­or­i­ties on most people’s to do list, what bet­ter way to com­bine per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al goals than by work­ing as an actu­ary over­seas! How­ev­er, it is eas­i­er said than done.  The insights in this ple­nary brought home the point that while there are a num­ber of dif­fi­cul­ties asso­ci­at­ed with work­ing out­side Aus­tralia, the rewards are much greater.  Jas Singh, Man­ag­ing Con­sul­tant at SKL Actu­ar­i­al, spoke about the oper­at­ing rhythm of dif­fer­ent over­seas mar­kets while Eliz­a­beth Mar­tin, Con­sult­ing Actu­ary at KPMG Aus­tralia, and Ray­mond Ben­nett, Direc­tor at Deloitte Aus­tralia, talked the audi­ence through their career jour­neys across the globe.

A valu­able ses­sion to under­stand the oppor­tu­ni­ties aboard,” said Hele­na McGe­orge, Actu­ar­i­al Ana­lyst at Deloitte Actu­ar­ies & Con­sul­tants who was in the audi­ence.

The key learn­ings from this ple­nary were as fol­lows:

  • Cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences play a big­ger part than you would think! Make sure to tai­lor any job appli­ca­tions and oth­er com­mu­ni­ca­tions to suit the style of the mar­ket in which you are look­ing to find a role
  • Fin­ish exams before trav­el­ling – trav­el­ling and work­ing is hard enough with­out hav­ing to wor­ry about study.  As a qual­i­fied actu­ary who no longer needs to spend hours at the study desk, you can bet­ter utilise your time to man­age your per­son­al affairs, to under­stand how to adapt to the new envi­ron­ment you’re in (at work and out­side work) and, of course, to stop and smell the ros­es!
  • Try to secure an over­seas role before mov­ing over­seas, rather than going in cold and attempt­ing to find a role once you are at your dream des­ti­na­tion.  As Eliz­a­beth right­ly point­ed out, it is real­ly dif­fi­cult to find hits for an Eng­lish search term like “actu­ar­i­al jobs in Paris” on a French search engine!  Small and unex­pect­ed obsta­cles like that might derail your chances of find­ing the right role in a dif­fer­ent coun­try
  • Even glob­al­ly, the actu­ar­i­al pro­fes­sion is small and tight-knit.  You will like­ly run into actu­ar­ies you have worked with over­seas lat­er in your career, mak­ing for a tru­ly diverse and glob­al pro­fes­sion­al net­work
  • Final­ly, the top tips from the speak­ers for young actu­ar­ies to start build­ing a glob­al career were to: learn a (rel­e­vant) lan­guage; net­work wide­ly – you nev­er know who might be able to con­nect you to an oppor­tu­ni­ty over­seas; upskill your tech­ni­cal knowl­edge with the glob­al con­text in mind; and learn to fuel your curios­i­ty by ask­ing the right ques­tions

Plenary 2: Actuary of the Future

The Actu­ar­i­al Edu­ca­tion Path­way to Fel­low­ship includes a need for spe­cial­i­sa­tion – but does that mean we can only work in areas that actu­ar­ies tra­di­tion­al­ly per­form duties in? Marc Mer, Man­ag­er at Deloitte Aus­tralia, pro­vid­ed insights into the var­i­ous areas that actu­ar­ies can work in along with ideas as to how to devel­op one­self to suc­ceed in non-tra­di­tion­al fields. This was fol­lowed by Nicolette’s pre­sen­ta­tion on the diver­si­ty of the pro­fes­sion, where she dis­cussed the demo­graph­ic changes with­in our pro­fes­sion and how it may affect our work­ing pat­terns in the future. Final­ly, Zhan Wang from Swiss Re and Alice Truong from Guardian Actu­ar­i­al pro­vid­ed insights into their per­son­al expe­ri­ence in util­is­ing actu­ar­i­al skills to give back to the com­mu­ni­ty via projects for the gov­ern­ment or char­i­ties.

Ple­nary 2 broad­ened my mind in regards to the social per­spec­tive of actu­ar­ies and the chang­ing diver­si­ty in our pro­fes­sion,” Chetana Kogan­ti, Actu­ar­i­al Ana­lyst at Deloitte Actu­ar­ies & Con­sul­tants who was in the audi­ence.

The key insights from this ple­nary were:

  • Our skillset can be applied to areas oth­er than the tra­di­tion­al fields – but we will still need to build on our core knowl­edge!
  • The demo­graph­ics of our pro­fes­sion have changed sig­nif­i­cant­ly in recent years and it will con­tin­ue to change!
  • We are like­ly to work well into our retire­ment, although most like­ly part-time under flex­i­ble work arrange­ments
  • Our knowl­edge can be utilised to devel­op deep­er appre­ci­a­tion of social issues and assist those in need!

Plenary 3: Talking the Talk

A core aspect of actu­ar­i­al work is to explain com­plex solu­tions in a sim­plis­tic way to stake­hold­ers. The abil­i­ty to com­mu­ni­cate is thus one of the most impor­tant attrib­ut­es to career suc­cess. Michael Stum­bles from Swiss Re began this ple­nary with a dis­cus­sion on the impor­tance of clar­i­ty in com­mu­ni­ca­tion as well as the sig­nif­i­cance of influ­enc­ing and lis­ten­ing. Kit Ng, Senior Con­sul­tant Actu­ary from MLC, then spoke about how to design insight­ful and use­ful dash­boards for dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers. Con Asves­tas from Quan­tium fol­lowed with a dis­cus­sion on how to deliv­er impact­ful pre­sen­ta­tions to an audi­ence that may not val­ue actu­ar­ies as much as stake­hold­ers from an insur­ance back­ground. Final­ly, Jef­fer­son Gibbs who is a Senior Part­ner from KPMG, pro­vid­ed tips on Stake­hold­er Wants, Con­tent and Deliv­ery as well as chal­lenged us to step out of our com­fort zone and devel­op com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills by join­ing act­ing and debat­ing class­es. The key insights from this ple­nary were:

  • Always start at the key mes­sage, and fin­ish with the details
  • Audi­ence is the cen­tre – tell the sto­ry to them accord­ing­ly!
  • Keep It Sim­ple and Spe­cif­ic
  • Prac­tice, prac­tice, and more prac­tice!

 

Plenary 4: Strategic Thinking, Leadership and Personal Brand

No youth con­fer­ence is com­plete with­out a deep dive on how to build out and firm up one’s per­son­al brand ear­ly in one’s career while lead­ing from the bot­tom and tak­ing a strate­gic view to one’s career choic­es.  Dar­ren Robin­son, Chief Actu­ary for MLC, drew a par­al­lel between how tech­niques to build a strat­e­gy for life insur­ers could be applied to build­ing a strat­e­gy for an individual’s career.  Antho­ny Tockar, an actu­ary by back­ground and cur­rent­ly work­ing as a data sci­en­tist at CBIG Con­sult­ing, spoke about find­ing his joie de vivre by becom­ing a pio­neer for using data for good.  Greg Bird, Direc­tor of Pric­ing, Data & Risk Ana­lyt­ics at AMP, spoke about the way his actu­ar­i­al roles over the years snaked between the tech­ni­cal and the strate­gic and between lead­ing self ver­sus lead­ing oth­ers.  Last­ly, Rashi Bansal, Chief Actu­ary and Head of Finance at BT Finan­cial Group, spoke about the impor­tance of rep­re­sent­ing the actu­ar­i­al pro­fes­sion such that actu­ar­ies gain fur­ther cred­i­bil­i­ty and trust amongst oth­er pro­fes­sions to secure a seat at the table.  The key take-outs of this ple­nary were:

  • Net­work, net­work, net­work! If you’re not “good at it”, put your­self out of your com­fort zone and prac­tice build­ing con­nec­tions with peo­ple
  • Work on build­ing cred­i­bil­i­ty and trust amongst col­leagues as ear­ly in your career as pos­si­ble
  • Under­stand the big pic­ture but don’t under­mine the detail
  • Grit, pas­sion and resilience are traits that will get you far!
  • Make sure you are well aware of your strengths and weak­ness­es, lever­ag­ing your strengths to build out any gaps in your knowl­edge

This ses­sion allowed me to bet­ter under­stand our com­pet­i­tive advan­tage that can be brought to stake­hold­ers,” said Chetana Kogan­ti.

Final thoughts

As the ple­nar­ies came to a close and the drinks began to be served for the evening net­work­ing ses­sion, the day’s events made it clear that there is no one way to suc­cess, no sin­gle mag­ic for­mu­la for a stel­lar career. Even the most suc­cess­ful men and women in the pro­fes­sion have wan­dered through roles, found them­selves in dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions, felt out of place and even expe­ri­enced out­right fail­ures.  How­ev­er, the com­mon thread amongst each of the ple­nar­ies’ speak­ers was the hunger for adven­ture and their abil­i­ty to be com­fort­able being uncom­fort­able, whether it was start­ing work in a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent coun­try, push­ing the bounds of the pro­fes­sion today to make it adapt­able for tomor­row, or explor­ing and build­ing their own per­son­al brand.  All in all, a fan­tas­tic inau­gur­al year for the first ever Young Actu­ar­ies Con­fer­ence!

As always, thanks to our speak­ers, our spon­sors (SKL and Fin­i­ty), the Actu­ar­ies Insti­tute and the Young Actu­ar­ies Con­fer­ence Organ­is­ing Com­mit­tee for mak­ing this event such a suc­cess.

 

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About the authors

Avanti Patki

Avanti is an actuarial graduate working at AMP. Graduating with a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies and a Bachelor of Science (Statistics) in 2014, Avanti has worked in the life insurance industry for just over two years with experience in wealth management valuations, insurance strategy, asset & liability management as well as actuarial pricing. At the Actuaries Institute, she is part of the Young Actuaries Program committee, the Young Actuarial Professionals Conference organising committee and the Climate Change Working Group.

Timothy Lam

Timothy Lam is a graduate consultant within KPMG’s Actuarial, Insurance and Superannuation Team, with experience mostly in life insurance. He has keen interests in the development of retirement income products and policies as well as career and professional development opportunities for delegates.

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