New partnership aims to transform non-life insurance actuarial profession

Paving a path for black candidates to become actuaries pursuing exciting careers in non-life insurance needs to start from as early as high school to transform the industry and promote equality in the profession.

This is the view of Ronald Richman, chief actuary at Old Mutual Insure, who says it is no secret that a critical shortage of black actuarial professionals in South Africa persists, and the time has come to change it for the better.

“There are very few qualified black actuaries in the wider actuarial market, and it is an even bigger challenge in the non-life insurance arena,” says Richman.

According to the Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (INSETA), while there is a good supply of black candidates for marketing, HR, finance, and investments, there is a clear lack in the actuarial, reinsurance and technical underwriting categories. Data from the Association of South African Black Actuarial Professionals (ASABA), suggests SA has 109 Black African Fellow Actuaries, compared to the 974 White Fellow Actuaries: an 800% disparity.

“Addressing this discrepancy by encouraging diverse candidates to pursue careers in the non-life industry becomes critically important as the demand for actuarial professionals continues to grow. We are already seeing a shift in more organisations relying on actuarial skill to model, predict and interpret data to plan for a future in which increased geo-political, climate and socio-economic risks are the norm,” says Richman.

To level the playing field and to promote the non-life actuarial practice area as an attractive and rewarding career path for black candidates, Old Mutual Insure has joined hands with ASABA.

The partnership aims to improve exam pass rates for the non-life insurance actuarial fellowship exam, reward innovative non-life insurance research and increase networking opportunities among non-life insurance actuaries and students. These initiatives will be open to all actuarial students and professionals in the South African market.

“The partnership will promote inclusivity and the availability of skills in the sector as well as identify, support, inspire, develop, and raise awareness for the next generation of black South African actuaries, deepening the pool of candidates available in the actuarial profession,” says Nabeelah Kolia, president of ASABA.

Richman says that the partnership will be rolled out with several initiatives focusing on three critical aspects of the career journey. 

“We will promote non-life insurance from the crucial stage in high school where learners start making career and study choices, provide support at university level, and then continue as they grow into working professionals,” he says.

A highlight of the programme is a prize for best research conducted in the non-life insurance space, where a young professional could walk away with R20 000 and a university student with R10 000. Another highlight will be an annual networking event, which will provide an opportunity for participants to broaden their networks within the actuarial community. Old Mutual Insure and ASABA will also host several sessions and school engagements to raise awareness among students and create the desire to enter the non-life insurance market.

“We are excited to be partnering with Old Mutual Insure on this initiative. We believe it will allow us to expand on the work we are already doing to make the industry more inclusive and transform the South African actuarial profession in the area of non-life insurance,” concludes Kolia.