Actuarial Market Analysis for 2015

The actuarial recruitment market continues to surprise us both in terms of the number and diversity of roles on offer within this sector. The clear winners in terms of demand are still those individuals with non-life skills particularly those with general insurance experience. Roles have been particularly strong for those with pricing experience and reserving experience at a senior level.  There are multiple opportunities for individuals with technical pricing skills at the newly qualified level to move into management roles. There is less demand at the junior trainee level which of course will exacerbate the shortage situation into the future.  We also note with recent exam results that the first individuals are coming through with the recent CAA qualification but this has yet to translate into demand for this particular qualification. The role of Risk actuary seems to be taking on an identity all of its own within the non-life sector in particular.  Individuals moving to these roles tend to have a background in reserving and of course involvement with the implementation of solvency II – at this stage the experience is mandatory having a knowledge of is not really enough any more! It will be interesting to see what effect the recent proposals contained in CP92 will have on the non-life market in particular when the final requirements are published. There can be no doubt that non-life actuaries are seen by the Regulator to be of increasing importance in establishing a robust non-life industry which is to be welcomed. Amongst many other proposals, CP92 appears to suggest that the new HOAF (Head of Actuarial Function) role might not necessarily have to be filled by an actuary. As you would expect, most senior actuaries that we have spoken to about this issue question whether a non-actuary could fulfil this proposed role so we will watch with interest to see whether this changes in the final specification.

At a practical level, we do wonder where all these senior actuarial experienced HOAF’s are going to come from, and since the proposed role is designated a PCF role, there is likely to be a busy few months coming up to this year end. We anticipate that there might be a number of golden handcuff situations coming up for the lucky senior few but this is not a healthy situation for the market or indeed the individuals in the longer term.

At Raretec we are already searching for non-life actuaries throughout the world to address the shortage here in Ireland and recent successes include bringing in individuals from Russia, South Africa and India. Luckily Ireland is seen as a cosmopolitan environment and does have its attraction although the strength of the Sterling is attracting them to the UK market before Ireland.

So how about the life industry.  After a period of calm it’s still not clear what the future brings to this sector. With the strengthening economy we would expect to see an increased demand here but this has yet to show itself. There has been an increased demand for day rate contractor skills but even here the appetite seems to be for qualified actuaries with financial reporting skills and roles here are like buses – three in a row and then none. Permanent roles are still there with consultancy opportunities being most prevalent, pointing again to project based work rather than long term full time commitments.

Where companies are recruiting more junior life trainee actuaries the demand is focused on strong IT skills with the quest for further automation particularly in reporting tasks being near to the top of the agenda. IT skills that are top of the list include VBA, SQL, Prophet and to a lesser extent C#.  We do believe that demand will increase slightly in the life sector. At a more junior level trainees should slow down their rush to qualification and make sure that they also focus on going the extra mile to gain industry experience – employers want to see that you have the depth of experience to go with your qualification. The proposed HOAF regime affects the life market as well – as an observation whilst the new HOAF role effectively positions individuals as more senior than the current signing actuary or chief actuary role with a title of “head of” we wait for HR departments to try and align this position at the same level as other head of level roles within organisations.

The Pensions and investments market are showing a small recovery and this can be seen particularly with a growth in junior roles for the first time in many years. However this increase is coming from a very low base. The recent merger of Willis and Towers Watson will change this market again no doubt. Regardless of sector and for about 90% of roles it is no longer enough to have a high mental or technical agility. Companies are looking for individuals who have the technical skills but who can also communicate with both technical and non-technical individuals alike.  At Raretec we spend a lot of time helping individuals get ready for the softer aspects of interviews.  As recruitment experts with more experience than any other actuarial recruiters in Dublin we know what employers are looking for and we can guide you in this regard.

Lastly the graduates this year have done well but we have seen a trend that employers have a preference for either those who achieve a good actuarial degree with at least 5 exemptions or alternatively they are increasingly going for mathematics and statistics graduates with strong degree results but without the exemptions.  These last individuals have the mental agility to take on the challenge of the actuarial path but will remain junior for longer as they gain experience etc, adding more value as they are supported through the qualification process. We will share an industry breakdown of where all the 2015 graduates have gone in our autumn newsletter.

As always we are happy to give independent career advice here at Raretec so if you are thinking of moving roles or indeed are an employer looking to hire then do get in touch with us at 01-5311400.