Our consultancy joined Milliman because we felt that this was a company that matched the vision and values we had, a company that brought independence and insight to clients. And not in a theoretical, ivory tower kind of way, but in an experienced way.
I think as a profession, actuaries have come leaps and bounds. We really focus now on how to articulate complex ideas to people. The other big leap is in risk management. Companies now understand that they need to better understand their risks, and that’s been a natural space for actuaries to fill.
It’s been crucial to us to build up a team of very talented young people in the office who really are helping drive the practice forward.
What sets apart one person over another is the ability to communicate. We’re looking for go-getters, self-starters, but also someone you could put in front of a client who'd be able to articulate complex ideas as well as perform the hard calculations. You need to be comfortable and confident in a meeting and have a kind of natural charisma.
A lot of our work requires hard number crunching. It requires analytics. It requires projecting forward what your balance sheet is going to look like under various shock scenarios, under various adverse situations, and those are the sort of skills that actuaries have always brought to bear on the insurance industry.
A lot of the work we do in Ireland is with boards. It's not necessarily pure, traditional actuarial work. It's in the space of strategy, it's in the space of risk management, it's in the space of, "What is our outlook for the company for the next few years?" You become almost an additional member of the C-suite: We typically sit in on board meetings. We've become trusted advisors for these companies, and we can help them grow as a business and develop their strategy.
People have a perception that derivatives are the things that bring down banks. They're scary. But actually, derivatives can be used to manage and reduce risk, allowing exposure to upside but a limit to the downside. As an industry, we have to get better at communicating complex ideas like this.
We should be asking consumers what they want to get out of life rather than the traditional risk assessment of, "How risk averse are you, and where are you on a scale of one to five?" Instead, we can ask: “What is it that you want to achieve? What are your ambitions at the moment? Is traveling important to you? What stage are your kids at in terms of education plans?” Only then can we develop products that really meet their specific needs.
As in many places around the world, Ireland’s health system is looking at reform. While the specifics of healthcare systems and healthcare reform in different countries will inevitably look very different, the fundamentals are often the same. Policy makers are looking to deliver the best quality healthcare from the resources available to them. While the national specifics may differ, many of the fundamental skills translate well across borders.
We’ve run a contest for our clients every World Cup and every European Football Championship going back about 15 years. For the World Cup 2014, we had over 700 people in our client competition. In the overall scheme of things, it's not that important. But it's great in terms of our interaction with our clients. People love it, and it was a hot topic of conversation in Irish insurance circles over the summer. Me? I went for Argentina.