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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Q&A: Lemdani Mustapha (Spain)


Lemdani Mustapha

I was born in Algeria and moved to France just after high school. I studied mathematics and economics in two of the top French engineering schools. I currently live in Madrid, Spain and work at AXA Mediterranean and Latin American Region.

I am passionate about meeting new people and learning about different cultures I am unfamiliar with. For that reason, moving to Spain has been an amazing opportunity. I love travelling, going to the theatre, reading and, more importantly, spending good-quality time with my friends.

Which actuarial field(s) do you specialise in?

I am currently working in property and casualty, risk management, and non-life insurance. More specifically on reserving topics.

Why did you decide to study and work in these specific fields?

I graduated from the French engineering schools École Polytechnique and École des Ponts, which provide multidisciplinary scientific education. I specialised in applied mathematics to finance, computer science and economics. I also hold a research degree from Université Pierre et Marie Curie in optimisation and game theory. It might seem at odds with conventional actuarial fields; but students with my background usually work in different areas, in both the public and private sector. 

I have decided to work in the actuarial field because I really believe in the added value that insurance companies can bring to society; protecting people and their property, as well as protecting companies.

Which actuarial society are you a member of?

I am a student member of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Which actuarial fields are most dominant in Spain and why? 

The most dominant ones are linked to reserving, pricing, and economic capital linked to the Solvency II directive.

Tell us a bit about the industry or market that you work and study in?

I am working for an international company, on both mature and emerging markets in the EMEA region and Latin America. In these markets, a significant proportion of this business is non-life insurance. Whereas entities in mature markets struggle with the financial crisis, with low growth in very competitive markets, entities in emerging markets see a double digit growth, but in a very flexible environment. In the latter, competition and regulation can be tough – for example, changes in healthcare provided by social security, or regulation on indemnities provided for bodily injury claims or third-party liability ones. These changes impact significantly on insurance companies and therefore it is important to be very agile.

What kind of support do students get in your company?

Being outside the UK, support for students involved in actuarial studies is not common. The actuarial title is given after university and therefore only a few people continue their studies while they are working.

Case-by-case support is provided by human resources and managers – helping with exam subscription fees and transportation. Flexible working hours is also a possibility.

What do you believe are the social and economic drivers for actuarial work in Spain?

As mentioned previously, healthcare is definitely a key topic for insurance companies in both mature and emerging markets.

The introduction of ‘Big Data’ will be a game changer – introducing numerous additional variables, and completely changing the relationship with clients, for example, telematics in motor insurance. Actuarial work will have to adapt to these new topics, as they will most probably change the face of the industry, from the clients’ relation to the product design and therefore pricing, reserving, risk assessment and so on.

What’s the reputation of actuaries and the profession in Spain? 

The actuarial profession is not very well known in Spain.

What are your views on the role of an actuary in the market you work in, now and in the future?

On the one hand, the role of an actuary is to further strengthen the existence of a ‘risk culture’ in insurance companies and drive the implementation and use of risk-based indicators to follow the business. 

On the other hand, and as already mentioned, actuaries will have to adapt to the many transformations society will face, such as the evolution of digital instruments, big data, a shared economy, among others. Their role is crucial not only for the insurance industry, but also for the public sector, in order to define and regulate for these new challenges and changes society will face.

What were the influences that shaped your career decisions to date?

It started with discussions with people working in the profession, and then, while working, it continued through regular communication with my immediate managers and some of my colleagues and friends.

These discussions are important because it is a way for me to structure my own thinking and progress as a whole, while debating ‘business as usual’ topics, and learning the best way to do the job. At the same time I can focus on the future, new opportunities and career paths.

Could you tell us about your immediate and longer term goals?

My immediate goal is, to continue learning more about my company and the industry in general. I also want to qualify as an associate of the IFoA.

My longer term goal is to be able to add real value either in the insurance industry or in the public sector. I do believe that actuaries have a key role in that.

What do you say when asked: “What is an actuary”?

A mathematician/statistician who is specialised in risks; being able to identify, measure and price them.


How will you celebrate the day you qualify?

I will celebrate with my friends and my family.

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