[Skip to content]

Sign up for our daily newsletter
The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

The world can be your oyster

As the world gets smaller, international travel
easier, more frequent, and relatively
cheaper, the concept of living and working
overseas either on a permanent basis or for a specific period of time is within reach for the majority of people.
In the actuarial field this coupled with recent and ongoing developments in the establishment of closer relationships between professional institutes and societies and the mutual recognition of examination standards and qualifications between the various professional bodies leads to the prospect of greater fluidity in employee migration across international boundaries. As the actuarial profession increases its profile, these opportunities manifest themselves across the consultancy and company spectrum encompassing consulting, valuation, marketing, and product development roles.

Fellow travellers
From an individual’s perspective it is generally more practical to consider an overseas opportunity once full fellowship qualification has been attained. For territories requiring immigration or work visa allocation (most overseas locations fall into this category) it is often a prerequisite. The exception to this rule from the UK actuary’s point of view, is of course, Europe, although here once again the demand is primarily for qualified fellows. Of course, for those fortunate enough to hold dual citizenship through birth, marriage, or parentage, providing the desired location matches the individual’s aspirations, then the entry process can be relatively painless.
The increasing impact of legislation on the financial services industry sector is not solely confined to the UK. Most territories are now heavily legislated and undergoing more stringent checks and balances, thus increasing the demand and the legal requirement for the actuarial skill set in the majority of regions.

Destination attainable
For the UK-trained actuary considering an overseas appointment, most regions Australia, North America, Europe, South Africa, the Far East are feasible destinations, depending primarily upon an individual’s experience. For example, the demand for the general insurance actuary is virtually non-existent in locations such as the Far East and South Africa, where the non-life market does not yet demand the input of the actuarial skills used in Britain, although this may change in the coming years. As might be expected, those with a background in the pensions and life arena are going to find their international counterparts present in most regions.
With the major actuarial consultancies and life companies having a global presence, there is often a warm welcome awaiting an appropriately experienced individual seeking to develop their life and pensions experience in an international environment. Indeed, from a practical point of view, international experience can provide positive benefits for many global clients undergoing business absorption, consolidation, and merger and acquisition programmes. For the individual, such experience can give an added dimension to their CV.

Questions of finance
The question of financial reward is obviously of importance to individuals and employers alike but, as important as this is to all concerned, it is nonetheless often a secondary consideration compared with the desire to gain or develop particular experience in a given discipline and region. More often than not the main criteria dictating salary levels are the local economic climate, living expenses, and disposable income. In this respect, the cost of living in Sydney cannot be compared in pure financial terms with that in Zurich or London.
The opportunity to live and work overseas, whether temporarily or permanently, is often most attractive and practical for the newly or recently qualified actuary (up to five years post-qualified). In common with UK employers, overseas consultancies are always interested in individuals with a background and track record in client and account development, although this should be tempered with the time taken to adjust to the idiosyncracies of new territories and to acquire a full understanding and appreciation of local legislative constraints.
Of course it need not be a long-haul destination that constitutes an international appointment. Cities closer to home, such as Dublin, afford opportunities to gain an international perspective in a developed actuarial marketplace.

Cultural revelations
Apart from the obvious desire to develop practical skills in an expatriate role, another attractive feature and primary motivator for the majority of individuals seeking an overseas appointment is the opportunity to experience and embrace a new culture and society. Indeed, overseas experience can be invaluable when dealing with today’s multinationals.
As to the future, the opportunities for overseas appointments will still be there for qualified fellows, and with respect to new territories, perhaps China may be a region possessing some interesting and challenging possibilities in years to come.