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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Working overseas: Focus - Europe

Where is the greatest demand for actuaries in Europe?
In common with the UK the key areas of demand in Europe are in financial reporting, risk management, capital management, and systems development, particularly in relation to Solvency II. The technical skills that UK-trained actuaries have are highly transferable to the areas of risk, capital and systems, but the need for local language skills can often be a barrier to securing a role. In Ireland, of course English-only speakers can thrive. And there are a number of other countries in Europe where English is very widely used in the business community such as Switzerland, Germany, Malta and the Netherlands.

Here you will be able to get by in the office without the local language, but you will find your spell abroad much more successful and fulfilling if you make the effort to learn, at least to a conversational level.

What are the main factors influencing actuarial recruitment in Europe?
Actuarial recruitment in Europe is influenced strongly by local financial conditions and changes to regulatory requirements. In the smaller insurance markets, company actuaries often have a very broad set of responsibilities, and hence they do not have the time and/or the specialist knowledge to take on projects such as Solvency II preparations. This tends to lead to an increase in work (and hence an increase in vacancies) for actuarial consultancies and specialist contractors. Additionally, market stresses such as the debt crisis can lead to an increased awareness of the value of actuarial skills and in turn to broader roles for actuaries. For example in Greece, actuaries are now getting more involved in restructuring the assets that back insurance funds. The crisis has also sparked a drive for development of more ’financially robust’ products and for closer monitoring of the experience and performance of insurance portfolios.

What are the main opportunities for candidates moving to European locations?
The main opportunities are in the insurance market, both life and GI. As well as the skills demand sparked by Solvency II, product development and pricing experience is also sought after. The ageing populations across Europe make experience of annuity products highly marketable, and in GI insurance the drive to bring more rigour into reserving and pricing continues apace.

What are the most important attributes for candidates in fitting into European culture?
The UK actuarial qualification is very highly regarded in most countries and will be a big help in getting the attention of hiring managers in Europe. Once you get to interview you will need to demonstrate at least a basic level of understanding of the market and of the local economy as well as the required technical knowledge. Knowing the local language, or at least being willing to learn, is important too, as it is viewed as a proxy for embracing the culture and trying to be part of it. Work ethos and practices around Europe can be very different to those at home so a high level of adaptability and willingness to learn will be needed.

What are the main ‘emerging markets’ in Europe?
Members of the UK actuarial profession work in more than 20 countries across continental Europe with the top 5 locations being Switzerland, Germany, Greece & Cyprus, the Netherlands and Russia. In total there are around 800 members of the UK profession working across Europe (excluding Ireland where there are a further 1100 members). The implementation of Europe-wide regulation is bound to encourage more cross-border movement of actuarial resource, as is growth in the range of insurance products in the less well-developed markets.

Are there any particular entry requirements or restrictions candidates should bear in mind?
For EU passport holders there are no restrictions on moving to another member state to work. For others the requirements vary according to the country you are moving to and your country of citizenship. In terms of transferability of your actuarial qualification, the Groupe Consultatif Agreement on the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications means that getting accreditation with other European Actuarial bodies is straightforward, once you have some experience in the local market.

What is the best thing about working in Europe?
From a professional point of view, the relative scarcity of actuarial resource in Europe compared to the UK means that you are likely to be able to take on more responsibility and get involved in wider range of projects earlier in your career. Having a spell of working overseas also gives a boost to your CV as it implies that you are open to new challenges and that you will thrive in our increasingly global workplace. The opportunity and impetus to learn or improve a new language is a big draw for many but equally the travel, sporting and cultural opportunities on offer in continental Europe are hard to resist.


Further reading: Working Overseas

This special supplement looks at career opportunities for actuaries around the world, and how to plan for a move abroad

Emmanuel Kenning - Global trends and opportunities
Trevor Watkins - Actuarial qualifications
Hannah Kaye - Actuarial skills travel well
Andrew Smith - Lecturing in Armenia and Albania

Region focus
Mark Dainty - United Kingdom
Jan Sparks - Europe
Wilhelm de Wet - South Africa
Luke Hawkins - Asia

Case studies
Switzerland - Alex Summers
Spain - Carl Haughton
South Africa - Bjorn Landewig
South Africa - Ashlin Noonan
Nigeria - Alexandre Aquereburu
Hong Kong - Paul Murray
Hong Kong - Mark Stamper
Indonesia - Chris Lossin
Bermuda - Amy Guna
Australia - Matt Noyce
Australia - Ashley Palmer