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Evolution of the Contract Market

Benjamin Moses, Associate Director UK and European Contract at Oliver James Associates, discusses the rise in demand for contractors across the GI and Life markets, and the breadth of opportunities available.

With compliance high on the agenda, and firms striving to meet new regulatory standards, the demand for contract workers within Financial and Professional Services has soared over the last few years. Increasingly, businesses have relied on independent contractors as an alternative to consultancies, and the way of operating is here to stay. As legislation continually develops, and insurance products evolve to serve a changing market, contractors are essential in allowing firms to operate at the forefront of the market, along with keeping on top of critical deadlines.

It is well known that the London General Insurance market has always been an incredibly consistent market for contractors. Over the last 18 months we have witnessed a sharp increase in the number of GI roles appearing in more regional parts of the UK, as more companies are realising the value of contractors over traditional consultancy use. It is thought that many GI roles are Solvency II driven, however this is not the case. GI insurers use contractors for multiple project roles including Pricing, Product Development, Capital Management, Reserving and more. The ‘Data Evolution’ is seeing many insurers now turning to new technologies and software that will aim to help maximise profits and target marketing to consumers. This is presenting a huge opportunity to those with the required knowledge and skill-sets to get involved in some exciting projects over the coming years.

In Life Insurance, the focus for contract work in 2016 will fall firmly on process automation, model improvement work, and Capital Optimisation. Firms will be focussing on making sure business can be conducted as quickly and accurately as possible by cutting model run times in half, whilst striving to optimise their activity within the newly installed guidelines of Solvency II. Prophet and MoSes developers will be in particular demand to accelerate this work, as will candidates who are nearly, or newly qualified who can offer a dependable opinion, and the expertise to solve problems in a hands on way. IFRS Phase 4 is another large project which many insurers will tackle over the coming months; we’re waiting with baited breath to see what challenges businesses face, and how these are interpreted into contract requirements. 

The European actuarial contract market, with the exception of the Netherlands, remains far less developed than the UK market. However, we are seeing an increasing number of clients being more receptive to engaging with independent contractors and have placed more people in other European countries in 2015 than we did in the whole of 2013 and 2014. These placements have been made within small domestic insurers through to large international companies with the latter very often being open to English speakers.

Contracting is an exciting career choice, it offers the experience of working for a number of businesses in quick succession, as well as the chance for frequent renewals to complete business critical projects. One of the defining benefits of contracting is the opportunity for a work/ life balance which is not achievable under the time and monetary constraints of permanent employment, the reasons for people choosing to contract are as varied as the products on offer in the market.

With Solvency II being near completion, we do not anticipate seeing any further significant increases in activity over the coming months. What has resulted from Solvency II is that, from there being very few actuarial contractors in 2009, there is now a well-established and consistent contractor market in the UK with significant opportunity. The question is, to those who spend their lives quantifying risk, is this a risk worth taking?

Are you interested in new UK and European contract roles? For a confidential chat, contact Benjamin Moses, Associate Director  +44(0)207 310 8793 /Ben.Moses@ojassociates.com