The current environment has generated a lot of excitement around the developments in data analytics and robotics. Clearly there are immense opportunities but there is also some concern and anxiety around the potential redundancy for actuaries and how this will affect job prospects in the future. My personal belief is that this is a great time to be an actuary, however, the actuary of the future will need to ensure the following attributes are firmly embedded in their mindset:
The actuary of the future will need to be an effective networker and relate well to people. They will have the ability to socialise confidently with people from all walks of life taking an interest in sharing ideas, listening and learning. They will quickly grasp other people’s thoughts and ideas while at the same time talking confidently about their own thoughts in the right context to engage their audience. While I know lots and lots of actuaries who are effective networkers, many are still reluctant to engage broadly outside the profession. This limits the influence of the profession and it is likely that there will be fewer suitable roles in the future for strongly introverted actuaries. I would go as far as to suggest a mandatory interpersonal skills test be incorporated in the road to an actuarial practicing certificate.
Data and Technology Focus
The actuary needs to grasp and be aware of the skill set underlying the data and technology being used (programming, data warehouses, IT infrastructure) as these will be critical to providing the basic infrastructure upon which current actuarial techniques can be adapted. The evolution of technology, robotics, and the use of data analytics by other professions means that the actuaries’ playground is becoming increasingly hotly contested. To maintain relevance and thrive, actuaries need to pay more attention to the operational aspects of a business than they have in the past. We don’t completely own these domains so being pro- active and actively chasing opportunities will be important.
Being aware of new developments, adapting to new ideas and having a flexible mind set to incorporate new tools and ideas into current practices will also be a key to success. Given the rigour and professional approach that is part of the actuarial training, having this mindset will most definitely set the actuary apart in the increasingly crowded world of data analytics.
Implementation and how data analysis can be utilised within the operations will require new skills. Project management, implementation skills, training skills and sharp communication skills will be particularly important. There is a big skill gap rapidly emerging in the economy and with increased complexity, professionals who can wear dual hats, both conceptually understanding how the “nuts and bolts” work and also being capable of implementation and project management will be in high demand.
Futurist with Keen Interest in Inventions
By this I mean hypothesising and thinking about current technological improvements. This domain will appeal to the cutting-edge actuary of the future but nevertheless is available to all curious and deep thinking actuaries. Given the speed at which technology is likely to evolve there will be an increased need for more focus on this and serious leadership will increasingly be defined by these attributes, as opposed to the traditional view that this thinking is associated with “science fiction buffs” or “dreamers”.
These are my thoughts and I’d be happy to exchange view on these topics with anybody interested in a discussion.