Category Archives: Trends

Survey looks at UK life and pension choices for new generation of customers.

Research by Cable&Wireless Worldwide has found that 90% of consumers express some dissatisfaction with the methods of communications from UK financial services providers.

Almost half would like more comprehensive websites which include video explanations and calculators, and17% of those asked wanted an instant message service whilst using the site. With younger consumers looking for more interactivity from providers, insurance providers need to respond to accommodate these needs or risk alienating future customers.

Nicola Dicks, director, General Insurance, Life & Pensions at Cable & Wireless Worldwide comments “Running multiple communication channels is simply not good enough if the customer experience is poor and disjointed, that’s why it’s vital for insurance providers to improve existing communication channels before rushing to invest in new ones. To engage with and retain their customers, insurers should be providing the right information and advice at first point of contact, whatever method that is.”

“Whilst at the moment technology leadership is strongest amongst younger customers, communications requirements will continue to shift as generations move through different life stages. Insurers therefore need to make sure they get their communication channels right–or they could find themselves restricted to a diminishing segment. Improving communications infrastructure will have a fundamental role to play in delivering the transformation required.”

So you don’t think you need a risk committee?

This morning’s Breakfast Briefing was highly successful. Oliver Peterken presented a rigorous talk on the value of risk committees and the obstacles preventing them from being efficient. Here’s what to watch-out for:

·    Executive vs. Board: to whom does the Risk Committee report?
·    Beware the Audit Committee/Risk Committee overlap!
·    Chief Risk Officer’s relationship to the Risk Committee
·    Responsibilities: defining the Chief Risk Officer
·    Leadership in a time of crisis

The audience was engrossed and Dr. Geraldine Kaye facilitated a scintillating Q&A following the talk. The conversation was really informative and heated up after the cameras were off. A great time was had by all.

American Actuaries Urge More Long-Term Planning

A New Society of Actuaries (SOA) and Actuarial Foundation Report Identifies Benefits and Gaps with Retirement Planning Software.

Retirement Planning Software and Post-Retirement Risks highlights the need for more long-term retirement planning following the economic downturn. The report focuses on assessing the benefits and gaps with retirement planning software and provides recommendations to refine these tools to help individuals be more prepared for the future.

The report analyses 12 financial planning software programs and finds that s software packages need to better address key planning drivers such as: Longevity, unexpected events and risks, housing, social security and annuities.

Search for Actuarial Jobs in America

The Future of the Pensions Actuary

Dr Geraldine Kaye presents a workshop on “The Future of the Pensions Actuary” at the 2009 pensions conference in Leeds.

She discusses the effects of increasing longevity, the spiralling costs associated with an ageing population and how this will affect the pensions industry. A lively feedback session raises some intriguing possibilities which merit further investigation.

Statistical Analysis of Vacancies on The Actuary Jobs

The Actuary Magazine has an online job search facility The Actuary Jobs. As vacancies are uploaded by both employers and a selection of recruiters, we decided to assume that is representative of the range of actuarial opportunities currently available. The initial aim was to produce a statistical analysis of the vacancies available on The Actuary Jobs in order to create a picture of the current actuarial job market.

Which sectors have the most vacancies? And at which levels of experience? Are there significant differences in salary across sectors? How great are the increases in salary between different career stages – from recent graduates to experienced actuaries?

First I entered the data for the number of vacancies by sector. As shown in Graph 1, there are significantly more vacancies advertised for General and Life positions than for any other sector.

Vacancies by Sector

Vacancies by Sector

Graph 1

The next stage was to investigate how these vacancies subdivided by career stage. (Graph 2) The job search facility recognises 8 distinct career stages from undergraduate through to experienced.

Actuarial vacancies subdivided by sector and career stage

Actuarial vacancies subdivided by sector and career stage

Graph 2

At first glance it appears that once a candidate has commenced their actuarial studies there does not seem to be a significant difference in the number of vacancies available at the various career stages within a sector.

Actuarial Vacancies by Salary Range

Actuarial Vacancies by Salary Range

Graph 3

The situation appears even stranger when looking at the salaries available at each career stage (Graph 3). There are vacancies available for experienced actuaries within the lowest pay-band of £20,000 – £29,000 and it would seem that there are positions available where actuarial students, at the beginning of their career, will be able to command a salary in excess of £120,000!

The solution lies in the way that vacancies have been uploaded to the jobsearch facility. Once vacancy for a head of pricing, responsible for dealing with senior management lists the experience required as “Actuarial Student, Ex-student, Part Qualified, Nearly / Newly Qualified, Qualified, Experienced”. Therefore, this position is included as a vacancy at every career stage, rendering statistical analysis of the data impossible. More importantly is the effect that this will have on candidates using this facility to search for a job.

Visitors to The Actuary Jobs are invited to choose from a selection of criteria (sector, level, salary) in order to create a short list of appropriate vacancies. Understandably there may be some overlap between career stages, a vacancy may be suitable either for someone who is Nearly / Newly Qualified or for someone Qualified, but to list every career stage for one vacancy, as in the example above, renders the search facility useless. Candidates using The Actuary Jobs search facility will not be able to obtain a short list that is any more meaningful that the full list of vacancies.

It is imperative for employers and recruiters to carefully consider their choice of keywords when uploading a vacancy. At present, this does not appear to be the case.

Future for Actuarial Profession is Safe

Fears that the actuarial profession will suffer as a result of the decline of defined benefits are laid to rest.  According to this article in the recent online addition of Global Pensions, actuaries are keen, diverse, able to leap tall buildings (in our humble opinion), and will continue to be in demand.

Possibly one of the largest – and most contentious – growth areas for the actuarial profession is the rise of the ‘implemented consultant’ or ‘fiduciary manager’. Although the two terms carry slightly different connotations, they share many of the same elements, not least the actuarial involvement in schemes.

Not sure if/how you will fit in?  Top roles for qualified actuaries have become more difficult to find, creating a need for specialised recruitment.  The need for actuaries is so great, according to Dr. Geraldine Kaye, MD at GAAPS Actuarial, that she, as a strong believer in the skills of actuaries, has been working diligently at getting actuaries included in the Highly Skilled Migrant Workers permit programme so that companies with long-standing vacancies can fill those roles.  “With the credit crunch hitting the headlines, GAAPS has never been busier.  The UK actuarial profession does not seem to have been hit in the same way as other areas of financial services in terms of redundancies.”