I am a consultant in the Paris office, working on life and non-life insurance projects. I used to work for the French insurance supervisor and was at that time heavily involved in the Solvency II preparation, so I have expertise in that area. But I’m happy to say that my colleagues trust me with other kinds of work, like M&A and other strategic projects as well.
The best thing about my job is the variety of projects. I work with small and big insurers, direct insurers and reinsurers, and on life and non-life projects. The scope of work gives me a much broader perspective on the issues facing our clients and helps me efficiently address their individual needs rather than simply developing general pitches and approaches that may not fit as well.
Our Paris office has a great sense of team spirit, and it’s something I noticed the very first day I arrived. Shortly after I started working here, nearly a third of the firm participated in a 10-mile race, with some who had trained for it and some who hadn’t, but all just doing it for fun. The culture here is one of succeeding together, helping each other with workloads and allowing us to achieve consistently high standards.
Solvency II greatly increased European insurance firms’ workloads and demanded a higher level of sophistication in their calculations. As consulting actuaries, we can help them face these challenges by providing both temporary resources as well as new knowledge. Our role is to stay at the forefront of innovation. Insurance companies tend to focus on regular and recurring studies; consulting actuaries can alert them to new and emerging issues in the industry.
As actuaries, we can’t merely respond to the needs expressed by clients. We have to demonstrate the breadth of our capabilities. There’s more competition now. We need to show not only what we can do, but also that we can do it efficiently, so our clients know they’re getting good value for their money.
In the future, I see two types of actuarial consultants emerging and living in symbiosis. One would be a high-skilled expert in a specific area, and the other would be a consultant with a wide spectrum of knowledge who can see the landscape as a whole. The expert can bring high-level skills to bear on a specific problem, while the generalist is better at understanding clients' needs.
Good dialogue with colleagues is important for bringing together our shared knowledge and expertise. We try to communicate well and stay flexible so that we can help each other during challenging times.
Sometimes working in a new, innovative area feels like being an explorer alone in the desert. You don’t really know if you’re going to make it to the other side. When you discover that your work actually produces results, it’s like finding an oasis. And that’s an exciting feeling. Once you emerge from the desert, of course, you have to convince your client to explore it with you. When they trust you enough to do that, it’s the best feeling of all.
I enjoy games of all kinds. I don’t know if it’s related to being an actuary, but I enjoy learning new games and working out strategies and probabilities for winning. I think it helps in my professional life, although the stakes are higher at work than they are playing chess with friends.
I played a lot of soccer when I was younger and I find this, too, has provided lessons that have paid off in my career. You learn that no game can be won before the end, you learn the value of consistent training, and you learn to celebrate the wins as a team.
My advice to new employees at Milliman is not to hesitate to ask questions and to be honest with your managers and colleagues if you’re struggling. We would rather help you overcome a challenge than have you waste time trying to cope with it alone.
At Milliman, our knowledge base is our treasure. Milliman Paris has built long-lasting relationships with many insurers and in doing so we’ve gained an enormous amount of wisdom. In this business, knowledge is like a snowball—the more you have, the more you continue to gain.
When we say we have expertise on a specific topic, it’s backed by studies and real projects, not just by reading about it. We’ve faced most of the same issues our clients have, from the major methodological choices to the tiniest assumptions, and because we had the opportunity to face them earlier, we can share what we’ve learned with our clients. That brings real value to the transaction.