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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Actuary 2.0 The skillset of the future

Lewis Maleh suggests how actuaries must evolve in a changing environment.


11 OCT 2018 | LEWIS MALEH

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The world seems to be travelling at record speed towards robots and automation – but where do humans fit in? Conversations with people often revolve around where their profession is headed and what skills are needed to be relevant in the future, and actuaries are no different. The McKinsey Global Institute produced an interesting discussion paper on automation and the future of the workforce in May 2018. It concluded that demand for technological, social and emotional, and higher cognitive skills will rise by 2030. The interesting question it considered was: how will workers and organisations adapt?

Our industry is going through seismic change, with every firm implementing a digital strategy. Changing demand for skills has already started, and will only gather pace. The insurance sector has many potential uses for AI, including forecasting risk and marketing products. This will change the profession and role of the actuary.

Even the way people define ‘work’ is undergoing massive change. More people are working freelance, and if you’re still working at a large organisation, you either hotdesk or are about to. We are seeing landlords offer more extracurricular activities such as yoga, speed networking and educational talks to make people feel part of a community – something which is in danger of eroding. Big challenges lie ahead for those charged with creating the right culture in an organisation. 

We’ve seen the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) evolve, releasing information about the new curriculum for 2019. The IFoA has a clear responsibility to ensure the curriculum is relevant, and it is doing a good job in this area. With the only certainties being that everything changes and we don’t know what the future holds, here are five attributes that we all need to work on developing, to prepare for what comes next.

Build your brand

This is important for everyone in the digital age. You can get a good idea of a person’s background from their CV and LinkedIn profile, information about likes and dislikes from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Make sure you spend time building your digital presence so you can be found. Whether you are meeting a potential client or employer, most people research who they are meeting online, so make they have some great content to read. It’s important to engage with the industry both online and offline, and having a clear voice on issues could just be the difference that sets you apart.

Develop a growth mindset

The ‘growth mindset’ is a learning theory developed by Dr Carol Dweck. It is the belief that you can improve intelligence, ability and performance through continued learning and development. I think that, given the relentless pace of change and search for more innovative ways of doing things, having a growth mindset and a thirst for learning will place you in a strong position to thrive as an actuary of the future. Developing this positive attitude can have a significant impact on your career.

Be tech savvy

Either learn to code or have a thorough understanding of computing. Learn the ideas behind automation and artificial intelligence, and make sure you know the benefits and risks. With your growth mindset, take an interest in new technologies and their applications. Technology is involved in every part of our lives, and this will only increase.

Build your network

Human connections have always been important. Actively network in the industry, stay in touch with ex-colleagues and meet new people regularly. It’s about building relationships quickly and effectively using online and good old-fashioned face-to-face networking. In my opinion, maintaining a good network of contacts will remain an extremely important aspect of building a successful career in the future. You will find more new opportunities and be referred more often by your network of contacts. You might belong to networks you are not even aware of.

Be resilient

Work on building your resilience, which is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. With ever-increasing requirements to deal with changing priorities and heavy workloads, a highly developed level of resilience will help us deal with the stress and strains of any workplace. When people have resilience they are often open to learning, receptive to receiving help and comfortable not understanding concepts immediately. Motivation and effort are as import as knowing how to do something, and given the pace of technological change in the world, I think this trait will be as important as ever.

Without knowing what the future holds, we need to make sure we are equipped with the right skills to be a productive member of the workforce. Work hard to learn new skills and be sure to develop a positive mindset so you are ready for tomorrow.

Lewis Maleh is the CEO at Bentley Lewis