Asia Tour 2018 Report Part 2: Shanghai

Kitty Chan reflects on the Institute’s 2018 Asia Tour in Shanghai, including an interview with Shanghai-based actuaries Yu Sun (EY) and Minnie Tian (Minsheng Life Insurance).

Shanghai was the second destination of the 2018 Asia Tour following our stop in Hong Kong. Elayne Grace, the Institute CEO, hosted a networking dinner on 14 March and we were honoured to have Dr. Xie Zhigang, Director of the Insurance and Actuarial Science Research Centre at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, as our special presenter.

Dr. Xie presented on the topic “Work Together, Prove the Value of Actuarial Profession”.  He shared insights with the audience about the great friendship and collaborations between the Australian actuaries and Chinese actuarial academics and professionals in the development of the Chinese actuarial profession. 

Several milestones over the last 20 years include:

  • Professor John Pollard visited Shanghai in 1998 and predicted that the actuarial profession would grow in Asia, and that there would be many actuaries working in China in 10 years time
  • The AMP-Macquarie University China Fellowship was established in 1998
  • In 2001, Fred Rowley, John Pollard and John Shepherd taught Control Cycle course in three Chinese universities
  • Chinese academics worked together and translated the Actuaries Institute’s Control Cycle textbook into Chinese in 2006

Dr. Xie called for further collaboration to prove the value of the actuarial profession in this new, global era. He raised some unsolved issues being faced by the actuarial profession, which have an important impact on society and the public:

  • Product innovation
  • Extension of service fields in emerging markets
  • Industry regulation and standards
  • Enhancing professionalism
  • Theoretical foundation of Actuarial Science

Q&A with Shanghai-based Yu Sun and Minnie Tian

Here, Yu Sun and Minnie Tian share their stories from Asia and views on Dr. Xie’s special presentation in Shanghai

Yu Sun, FIAA, Manager, Actuarial Services, EY China

Kitty: What brought you to Asia?

Yu: I grew up in Australia and joined EY after graduating from university, practicing in the field of non-life insurance since. During my time in Australia, I’ve had the pleasure of working across a wide range of clients such as large government insurance scheme regulators, self-insurers and commercial insurers.

EY has one of the largest and most prominent actuarial service team in the market with its members distributed across the world. In 2016, I had the opportunity to attend the EY Asia-Pac Actuarial Conference where I became exposed to the vastly different vibes of different Asian markets. I was intrigued by the evolving nature of the Asian market, inspired by my colleagues that were seconded to Sydney and decided to participate in EY’s Global Mobility program. Fortunately, the Australian team and the Chinese team were happy to facilitate such an arrangement for me to discover and develop in this emerging market.

What challenges do actuaries in Asia face?

Yu: From my perspective, the challenge in Asia is the branding of actuaries and the market recognition of the value we add. Perception of actuaries by the wider audience has been recognised by the profession as something we need to focus on over the years.

In the China market, actuaries are still establishing themselves as part of a respectable profession and have not yet achieved a strong sense brand perception in the market. Due to the nature of the developing market, many in the industry sees a very narrow role for  actuaries and actuaries have not yet been utilised to their full potentials.      

Kitty: What were your thoughts on Dr. Xie’s Address in Shanghai?

Yu:The presentation delivered by Dr Xie highlighted the bond between Australian and  Chinese actuaries through the development of China’s actuarial education infrastructure. It was certainly surprising that several of the textbooks used in China’s education system were translated versions of the very same textbooks I used while studying in Australia.

“As a profession, we should work to strengthen the bond between Australian and Chinese actuaries and promote channels of communication and knowledge sharing between our two markets” – Yu Sun

Minnie Tian, AIAA, Strategic Assets Allocation Manager, Minsheng Life Insurance

Kitty: What brought you to Asia?

Minnie: My name is Tian Tian (Minnie).  After 16 years of a cosy life in NZ and Australia, I decided to move back to my home country of China in 2016, as I saw room for opportunities there, and I wanted to take on new challenges.

Kitty: What challenges do actuaries in Asia face?

Minnie: The working environment, regulations, accounting standards, insurance products are all very different. It was very hard at the beginning because these were all new to me. However, it was a good driver to push me to learn new things and take actions to overcome the challenges.

Kitty: What were your thoughts on Dr. Xie’s Address in Shanghai?

Minnie:  Dr. Xie’s presentation was very interesting, and showed a lot of memorable stories between Australia and China.  Given the strong historical cooperation, it would be meaningful that we keep the close interactions as he said. I think the Institute is of a great value to this, and it provides an open platform for us to exchange views with those practicing in Asia.  This also helps members moving to Asia to adapt to the new environment and that makes life so much easier.

If you would like to participate and have ideas for the Asia Tour 2019 program, feel free to email Kitty Chan for further discussion.

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