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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Careers: As good as New… Zealand!

What does a non-New Zealander need to stand out to a local employer?
It is easier to get a job in New Zealand (NZ) in person. Speak to a recruitment consultant who can set up face-to-face discussions with potential employers, and then you can demonstrate that you’re serious about the move. Companies tend to look for candidates locally before looking overseas - recruitment costs and relocation packages can be expensive – it is therefore essential to demonstrate why you want to work in NZ in particular.

You should also highlight the extra value you can add with your overseas experience and how your knowledge/working practices could be well applied here.

What do you think are the main resource requirements in the NZ market?
The job market in NZ is currently very tight and unemployment is low. There are shortages throughout the industry, and although students are most visibly in short supply, vacancies can be found up to a chief actuary level. NZ is a small place compared to the UK – not geographically, but in terms of population and size of the industry. This allows actuaries to get involved in a wider variety of tasks and broaden their skill sets.

Do you have any top tips: local knowledge to share to make the transition easier? Are there any remarkable differences from other markets you’ve worked in?
George: Actuaries are for the most part based in Auckland and Wellington, so it’s quick and easy to get to know people working in the same areas as you. From a consulting perspective, clients can be based all over the country and so there can be opportunity to travel. Being a small industry, NZ offers opportunity for actuaries early on in their careers to take additional responsibility and move into senior roles.

Joe: Speak to a recruitment consultant who knows the market since local jobs are not always advertised in the UK, and keep your eye on the press for any relevant economic/industry trends. In terms of adjusting to life as an actuary, the learning curve can be steep so don’t shy away from asking questions. The main difference for me has been in the variety and exposure of work - I can honestly say that I’ve learnt as much in the last four weeks than I did in the last four years in the UK. I’ve gone from a company of 100 actuaries to a country of 100 actuaries!

What are typical working practices?
Working practices are generally very similar to the UK although work/life balance seems to be much better. Working environments can be flexible – with possibilities to work from home or work part-time and there is a great sense of unity in offices and teams. Office wear is generally smart casual.

What are the lifestyle selling points? What have you enjoyed most about your time in New Zealand?
George: I’d like to say that with never being more than a short drive from a beach, I’ve often headed down after work, or got myself a boat for enjoying Auckland harbour - but neither would be true! However I have taken sailing lessons which were excellent and there is the opportunity to spend more time sailing and fishing if that appeals to you. The ski fields of the North Island are just a few hours drive away and a number of people head out of Auckland for a weekend’s skiing in winter. The local wine is excellent, summers are long and hot and rugby is a religion – so come and give kiwi life a go...

Joe: As anyone who has been here (or has watched Lord of the Rings) will testify, New Zealand is an impossibly beautiful country. Lonely Planet recently said there are "few countries on this lonely planet as diverse, unspoiled and utterly, utterly photogenic".

As an amateur photographer, the country’s natural beauty particularly appeals - mountains, beaches, rainforests, volcanoes, glaciers, geysers - they’re all here! Furthermore, NZ’s major cities regularly appear towards the top of the list in Mercer’s Quality of Living survey and the cost of living (for actuaries at least) is very affordable.

All in all, I have absolutely no regrets and would encourage anyone who is thinking of a similar move to investigate the opportunities. You need a visa to work in NZ and a common visa category is the Skilled Migrant Category– a points system based on your qualifications, work experience and job, or job offer, in New Zealand. Employers also often sponsor visa applications.


Sima Varsani is Head of Research at GAAPS Actuarial.
George Carter is a Principal at Mercer and Joe Benbow is a product actuary at Westpac.

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