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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Working overseas: South Africa - Bjorn Ladewig

Case study:
Bjorn Ladewig,
Cape Town

Tell us about your background
I was born in South Africa and finished school in Hermanus, not far from Cape Town. After university I started my career at Old Mutual in South Africa and worked there for four years during which tie I qualified as an actuary. In 2004 I went to Germany where I joined Hannover Re before moving to Switzerland in 2006 to work for PartnerRe in Zurich. I now live in Muizenberg and have recently joined the actuarial team at PwC in Cape Town.

Why did you leave South Africa?
To get broader work experience and travel in Europe. In short, to get the ants out of my pants!

What were your reasons for returning?
Family, friends, nature, South Africans — home!

What were the challenges of getting a job in South Africa? Any restrictions?
There are simply fewer employers in South Africa to choose from compared to Europe, particularly in Cape Town. Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) also meant that some potential options were not available to me.

Where are you seeing the greatest demand for actuaries in South Africa?
I think there are currently a lot of opportunities associated with the implementation of the South African version of Solvency II, locally dubbed as Solvency Assessment and Management (SAM). Further afield, opportunities in the rest of Africa are unfolding within the insurance and risk management space.

How does the South African work culture differ from Europe?
I found that the work environment in Europe varies quite a lot between different countries. I found it quite formal in Germany but with very good employee support structures. In Switzerland, the work environment was pleasant and efficient, albeit quite businesslike (and very punctual, of course). In South Africa, I feel it is more a case of work hard, play hard, combined with the scope to get involved in some exciting opportunities.

How do the salaries and cost of living compare to that of Europe?
South Africa has become a lot more expensive over the course of the last decade but it is still quite affordable compared to Europe. Tax rates are certainly a lot higher than in Switzerland. Actuaries generally earn fair salaries in South Africa.

What is the best thing about working in South Africa?
Working with friendly South Africans with their can-do attitude.

With thanks to Wilhelm de Wet, director of SA3, for his help in sourcing this case study


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