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15.09.2018

Emerging Drivers of Demand in 2018

Drivers of demand 20182018 has been predictably busy for the interim actuarial sector – we have already seen a high level of demand from clients in a range of areas, and anticipate this only increasing further, fuelled by a number of factors:

IFRS 17

Starting with the most obvious perhaps: it’s evident that a number of our clients have now made sufficient progress with their IFRS planning, thought leadership and gap analysis to move into early phases of implementation.  The key areas of support within IFRS 17 so far in 2018 (which we expect to continue for the remainder of the year and into 2019) have included input into methodology and creation of detailed business requirements, impact assessments and work to improve modelling systems and data management to comply with the emerging regulations.  Even allowing for simplified transitional arrangements, the requirements are also likely to require considerable digging into the past experience of current portfolios of business and will involve extensive analysis of data which is unlikely to be in ideal shape.  This latter element may not be the most glamorous end of IFRS 17 but we are enthused by the opportunities, and in particular how the work might suit our growing pool of junior students and CAA analysts.  Of course, clients are understandably keen to ensure IFRS 17 knowledge is retained within permanent employees, and this is reflected in a number of opportunities we’re seeing to backfill, primarily in financial reporting positions.

Modelling platform and data migrations

A combination of insurers now having had time to embed use of their Solvency II models, reflect on that implementation and associated run times; together with new entrants into the actuarial modelling space, particularly those boasting cloud-based solutions; and the requirement (not always optional!) to upgrade to existing vendors’ latest releases – mean we are seeing more evidence of insurers overcoming natural inertia and migrating to new modelling systems.

Similarly, with the ongoing need for faster financial reporting timescales, we are witnessing plenty of activity with insurers wishing to refine their processes around production of model point data so that they are in a position to feed their models without delay.  Further improvements also being sought over data flow throughout the end-to-end reporting process, commonly involving use of SAS, R and in-house Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) systems.

Dashboards and visualisation tools

With the increasing need for understanding of model output at right up to Board level, across Life and GI clients we have seen appetite for construction of new click-and-view tools and dashboards, often based on the back of lite or proxy models, and presented in a digestible, highly visual manner suitable for senior manager tastes.  Such tools may be developed in code or software that is less established in actuarial teams, such as R, Tableau, Javascript and C#.  Key skills here of course may include excellent model development, coding and testing; but other skills such as an understanding of how to present results in an engaging manner, and communication with non-actuarial stakeholders can be just as important.

Merger and acquisition activity

Solvency II implementation has led to an increase in activity in this area, whether it’s a full acquisition or a large-scale investment such as a longevity swap or transfer of legacy business.  Once the transaction is completed, the key skills in demand are often similar to those required for systems or data migrations.

Interrogating data repositories

The granularity of Solvency II disclosures and other drivers have led to much wider use of data repositories and the need for actuarial staff to directly interrogate such databases themselves through the likes of SQL and SAS. We have seen more references to the need for good SQL skills in actuarial job specs in the past year than we have for the previous five years combined!

 

The above are all areas where we feel very well placed to help clients with solutions and to discuss any emerging requirements.  Perhaps not surprisingly, we are seeking to maximise our own ability to meet client demand in these areas by developing the skills and knowledge of our people, both in our staff and contractor pools.

Gary Heslop

September 2018