Working in Asia

In August, YAP NSW hosted an Insights Session with Quanyie Tan, Michael O’Loughlin and Paul Carrett, three Actuaries Institute members who took the leap to move to Asia for a work opportunity.

Unsurprisingly, the first question that was asked to Quanyie, Michael and Paul regarded the motivation behind their decision to move. Their answers included aspects such as:

  • Wanting to learn more about the Asian insurance market: The state of the insurance market in Asia can be vastly different, depending on the region, which varies in terms of market development. Working in Asia provides an opportunity to work across the whole spectrum.
  • Development opportunities: Asia offers the chance to work on valuable projects that stretch your expertise and abilities, creating learning and development opportunities that you may not get in Australia.
  • Ready for a new adventure: The panel shared that they were looking for variety and challenges in their career.

Once the move to Asia was decided, the next stage was to figure out how to make the move. The Insights guests shared some tips for those considering the shift:

  • Internal transfers are the easiest way to move as you will have strong HR support from both sides and flexibility in planning the move.
  • If you work at an international company, talk to colleagues who work in regional headquarters, as this will give you an understanding of what it’s really like.
  • Leverage your network and talk to recruiters.
  • Be in the loop of what’s happening in these markets to be aware of opportunities.
  • When interviewing for an overseas position, learn about the specific challenges and regulations of that market — this will help impress your interviewer.


Once you have moved, learning how to operate in your new workplace can bring a different set of challenges. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Stay humble: Don’t assume that what works in a developed market will also work in an undeveloped market.
  • Be open to learning: Listen and respect those with local market knowledge — doing so will help your growth.
  • Be mindful of language barriers: Try to minimise the use of colloquialisms, speak slowly, and avoid using complex words as English may not be your colleagues’ and customers’ first language.
  • Be ready to work: Even if you are a senior, be prepared to get your hands dirty to show that you and your team are in this together.


Although working in a new market may be daunting, Quanyie shared,

‘If you have a fair bit of work experience, local market knowledge is something that you can pick up. Just remember to keep an open mind and trust your experience and expertise.”

The guests also emphasised the importance of relationship building, as deals in Asia are more relationship-based. Fortunately, Asia has more industry events and conferences in comparison to Australia; these events range in size and it’s much easier for less experienced actuaries to get involved.

To conclude the Insights Session, Quanyie, Michael, and Paul shared some final words of wisdom:

  • Don’t worry too much about having your whole career planned out. As long as you have a rough direction and are open to learning, you’ll be able to seize opportunities as they appear.
  • Don’t be afraid to say yes to opportunities, even if they don’t perfectly match your plan.
  • Be flexible and humble.


On behalf of YAP, we would like to thank our guests for sharing their knowledge and insights.

Missed the session? No worries! You can catch-up on the recording via the Past Events Hub.

Throughout the year, the Young Actuaries Advisory Board (YAAB) and YAP committees in each state hold various events targeted at building the knowledge and networks of young actuaries.

Young actuaries are classified as those members under 35 years old or with less than 15 years of experience in the profession. So, if you are a young actuary, we would love you to join us!

Visit the Actuaries Institute calendar for upcoming events and join the Young Actuaries group on LinkedIn to hear more about our events and other opportunities for young actuaries.

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