What are the career prospects for an actuary relocating to Asia?

Hamza Mush, Manager, Actuarial Asia Pacific, discusses why it’s a great time to be considering an overseas move to Asia if you’re an Actuary…

It should come as no secret that despite the weakened financial markets and slowdown in growth momentum, Asia remains to be the world’s economic engine ranking amongst the fastest-growing insurance markets in the world. It is still the most promising region globally in which an actuary could choose to work.

Now, whilst throughout Asia more and more banks, securities houses, asset management companies and ratings firms are also looking to hire actuaries to analyse insurance companies’ finances (or regulators needing more actuaries to supervise the insurers) the key actuarial employers in Asia are still the Life and P&C insurance companies themselves along with consultancies; accounting for over 80% of all actuarial hires in the region. 

Munich Re projects that Asia will account for 40% of the global insurance market by 2020 and will be home to five of the top ten primary growth markets in the world including China, India, and Indonesia. A further report by Swiss Re late last year indicated Asia’s insurance market is expanding at a rate of above 13% per annum whilst the rest of the world grows at around 3%. As the middle class here continues to grow, so does the demand for insurance products.

This industry growth has been combined with more specific and recent trends such as disruptive digital technologies leading to a change in customer behaviour, an increase in service expectations, constant development of regulatory initiatives by governments to strengthen solvency and protect consumers, shift in demographics and increases in disposable income; all of which make it an incredibly dynamic and buoyant industry to be a part of with significant impact on the role of an actuary. 

With the industry’s heavy reliance on actuarial capabilities, one of the top risks being faced by businesses is that this level of growth and complexity can only be sustained and managed if there is a steady supply of actuarial talent. Traditionally this simply meant the need to hire individuals who have sufficient exposure in quantifying complex risk exposures and pricing insurance solutions. Today, this means internationally qualified well-trained actuaries proficient with both advanced insurance capital and risk frameworks and the ability to contribute in areas of strategy, investment, asset allocation, enterprise risk, and even product design. Critical areas which now without the input of actuaries would threaten an insurance company’s survival, let alone profitability. The outlook is even brighter for those looking to relocate from advanced markets such as the UK and Australia, having worked with more sophisticated insurance products and complex financial regulations.

As functional silos start to dissipate, and the reliance on risk and capital-modelling capabilities along with using analytics to make commercial pricing decisions in Asia continues to grow, an actuary coming from overseas is able climb to senior influential positions such as Chief Risk Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and even Chief Executive Officer, albeit with stiff competition from locally-based talent particularly in the more advanced markets of Hong Kong and Singapore. We are also seeing more and more multinational businesses entrusting actuaries with the positions of Chief Operations Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, even Chief Distribution Officer, across the region.

Whilst some of these senior leadership positions at top-tier businesses in the regional hubs of Singapore and Hong Kong may be restricted to those who have already spent years proving themselves and getting accustomed to the local regulations, companies are constantly on the lookout for future successors. The demand and supply gap is even greater for actuaries in neighbouring South East Asian countries (Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc.), markets which are highly viable stepping-stones for those relocating from overseas looking to fast-track their careers in Asia.

With the era of digitalisation and rapid changes in technology, insurance companies here are also taking things to the next level by creating and re-developing new forms of insurance, more innovative product solutions and a fresher and more memorable customer experience. They are extending coverage to newer areas of risk (cyber risk, IT risk, reputational risk, etc.), and making insurance more transparent and easy to understand.

With rapid industry growth and a shift towards risk-based capital regimes, Asia remains one of the most attractive destinations in the world for an actuary looking to develop their career. There is clear competitive advantage and greater rewards enjoyed by those that can combine technical expertise with stakeholder engagement skills alongside the ability to make strategic and commercial business decisions.

If you’re an actuary interested in relocating to Asia and wish to find out more about the market and specific career options that may be available to you, please email me on / +852 5804 9048.

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