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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Working overseas: Focus - South Africa

Life insurance
In South Africa, the life industry is by far the biggest employer of actuaries and students, with about half of the actuarial population employed in this area. Financial reporting, product development, pricing and marketing are still the dominant areas.

However, with the Solvency Assessment and Management (SAM) deadlines nearing, capital management and broader risk management roles have become more prominent in the life space. Candidates with Solvency II or stochastic capital modelling experience are in high demand and we foresee this trend continuing for the next couple of years.

The number of actuaries working in the pensions/corporate environment has reduced slightly at the turn of the century, with most pension funds moving from defined benefit to defined contribution.

However, if anything, the amount of work has increased due to a number of ongoing initiatives from the regulator and the industry. Confident and articulate actuaries still do very well in pension consulting and, in general, packages at the senior end of market compare favourably to those in life insurance.

General insurance
The general insurance (GI) industry in South Africa is still a growing field in terms of actuarial opportunities. Also affected by SAM, there is a growing need for capital management and modelling actuaries. A qualified actuary with GI experience should not struggle to find suitable roles, particularly in Johannesburg.

Private healthcare is a relatively big employer of actuarial skills in South Africa. There are lots of local regulatory issues, which mean that international healthcare experience is not always transferable to the South African market. Experienced healthcare actuaries earn very good packages and employers pay a premium for experienced individuals. It remains to be seen what impact a possible national health insurance scenario would have on the number of actuaries practicing in this field.

Investment, banking and wider fields
Actuaries ply their trade in a number of non-traditional areas in South Africa too and are highly sought after for their numerical ability and business acumen. In the investment and banking areas an additional chartered financial analyst (CFA) qualification usually comes in handy, while the chartered enterprise risk actuary (CERA) designation is fast becoming a necessity for ERM roles.

Wilhelm de Wet is director of SA3 (South African Actuaries Abroad)


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