Born and raised in the city of Almere, Jurgen is now based in Amsterdam working for Towers Watson, specialising in general insurance. During his studies in Groningen he did not hesitate to try his hand at lacrosse, a fast-paced and spectacular sport. He spends most of his free time with friends and family.
Which actuarial society are you a member of?
Which actuarial fields are the most popular in the Netherlands and why?
Historically, most actuaries work in the field of life insurance or the pensions industry. This is due to the large amount of premium earned compared to the other markets. Moreover, the Netherlands has a unique and extensive pension system.
Can you tell us a bit about the industry or market that you work in?
Due to the fall in premium volume in the life insurance market, insurers have focused more on the general insurance market. Competition is fierce, making accurate pricing and innovation essential.
What led you to choose to study for an actuarial qualification with the Actuarieel Genootschap?
It focuses on the development of soft skills necessary in practicing actuarial work. It is useful to develop these skills as well as the technical methods.
Which of the actuarial exams do you consider the most difficult and why?
As there is a focus on soft skills, there are no exams as such. Of the mandatory courses the Market Valuation Seminar is the most challenging. The material is not hard, but assumptions and methods are tested thoroughly, making it a demanding course.
What kind of support do students get in your company?
Towers Watson facilitates our education by adjusting targets, and being flexible when there is more time needed for study.
Is there an actuarial student society in your area, and what kind of activities does it organise?
Every city where you can study econometrics or actuarial science has their own study association. These typically combine social and academic activities. The associations collaborate for the National Econometricians Day, where students get the opportunity to listen to key speakers and meet potential employers.
What would you say are the 'hot' topics in your industry?
Hot topics include pricing (mainly disability insurance) and claims reserving.
What's the reputation of actuaries in your country?
People think of actuaries as being highly intelligent as the exams appear difficult and mathematical, and being less social than the average Dutch person. Overall, I think there's a respect for actuaries and the work they do.
What are your views on the role of an actuary, both now and in the future?
An actuary's opinion is generally accepted without question. As more people come into the industry, and with the increasing complexity of products, it is essential to be able to convey the results to a wider audience. The actuarial department cannot remain an island within an organisation, but needs to be incorporated into the business as a whole.
In the UK the skill set of an actuary is being recognised across many disciplines, is this also true in the Netherlands?
The ability to analyse a problem and to translate it into a mathematical question (and back!) is a skill sought after in many disciplines. Actuaries and others trained in applied mathematics, are therefore in demand.
How would you describe a typical day
There is no typical day for a consultant. At present, I am busy with a reserving review assignment and discussing results with the client. Other assignments typically involve spending time with a client. I also work on developing intellectual capital topics.
What were the influences that have shaped your career decisions to date?
My thesis was on disability insurance, so I have worked on a number of related assignments .
I have also been able to develop my knowledge of the business at Towers Watson.
Could you tell us about your immediate and longer term goals?
In the short term I would like to develop my knowledge in the fields of pricing and reserving. In the long term I would like to learn about the more generic aspects of an insurer rather than becoming an authority on one topic.
How will you celebrate on qualifying?
There is a graduation ceremony for all new actuaries, and then a dinner with my family.