Actuaries are vital to the insurance industry and national economies, but the profession is still emerging in many developing countries. To help change this, Milliman and the United Nations Development Programme have launched GAIN, the Global Actuarial Initiative, which will send Milliman volunteers to meet with regulators, insurers, educators, and students in 27 countries. In this special episode of Critical Point, five Milliman volunteers reflect on the accomplishments of GAIN’s first year, what surprised them on country visits that took them as far as Uzbekistan and Tanzania, and the work ahead.
Announcer: This podcast is intended solely for educational purposes and presents information of a general nature. It is not intended to guide or determine any specific individual situation, and persons should consult qualified professionals before taking specific action. The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and not those of Milliman or the United Nations Development Programme.
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Hello and welcome to Critical Point, brought to you by Milliman. I’m Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson from Milliman’s Media Relations team, and I’m going to be your host today.
In this episode of Critical Point, we’re celebrating an exciting milestone: We are one year into Milliman’s joint venture with the United Nations Development Programme. The Global Actuarial Initiative, also known as GAIN, is an ambitious collaboration focused on increasing actuarial capacity in the developing world.
Actuaries use math and statistics to quantify risk. They often work for insurance companies to calculate premiums and reserves, and they’re particularly important in helping businesses and communities plan for the effects of climate change. Actuaries can contribute to insurance mechanisms to protect crops and cattle, and to mitigate the risks posed by floods, fires, and other extreme events. But in many countries around the world, the actuarial profession is only beginning to emerge. The GAIN program is working to change that.
Through this program, Milliman will send professionals to 27 UNDP target countries, where they’ll meet with students, insurance leaders, regulators, and other industry professionals with the shared goal of building the supply of and demand for actuaries in these countries. In this first year, we’ve already sent more than 50 ambassadors to 10 countries. Today, you’ll hear from five of these Milliman volunteers about the work they’ve done so far and what’s ahead. But first, a little more background.
From no actuaries in Nepal to a more established profession in Nigeria
Every country that we visit is unique. Different countries aspire to different sorts of insurance systems, whether it's public, private, hybrid. There's different status quos in place in terms of financial infrastructure, regulators, whatever data is available. There may or may not be existing actuarial organizations in these countries. Many countries look to import actuarial talent from other places and each country has unique risks, and they're looking to build effective social security nets.
So where is GAIN? It's a worldwide program. We're in 27 countries. In our first year, we visited 10 countries total: Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nepal, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam and, again, there's 17 more to go.
The effort really begins with an assessment to identify local needs, and I know one useful way of understanding these assessments and just understanding the larger effort is to consider actuarial supply and demand dynamics in each country. So some of these countries, they have zero supply of homegrown actuaries and they rely on actuaries outside the country to do that work. Nepal is a good example of this, where the supply is in its earliest stages. Other countries, such as Nigeria and Vietnam, have a more robust supply of people moving through exams and climbing toward their credential.
There's also a demand dynamic, obviously. In each country, there's increasing urgency to have homegrown actuaries. Some of this comes from external regulatory pressures. But much of that demand is cultivated locally. Many countries are trying to figure out how to make the actuaries they train stick around. In Uzbekistan, for example, there are five actuaries and 43 companies. So there's a supply-demand imbalance. The rules that bring the actuarial function in-house may change that. A lot of countries are contemplating that.
So Milliman ambassadors are getting our hands dirty on the detail. We are working with local professionals. We're advocating for actuarial expertise in government and regulation, and we're helping to facilitate a mentoring program.
Meet five of Milliman’s 50 volunteers (and counting)
Now let’s meet five of our GAIN ambassadors. We’ll hear why they got involved, where they went on their ambassador trip, and what they learned. I’ll start with Merideth Randles. She’s a health actuary based in Seattle. In her first year, she made trips to Colombia, Ghana, and Uzbekistan, and she’s also heavily involved in the GAIN effort in other ways. Merideth?
Merideth Randles: All right, thank you very much. I first got activated and engaged with GAIN at its inception, really, a little over a year ago when it became apparent that the United Nations Development Programme was interested in pursuing this partnership with Milliman. I have spent my career at Milliman, a little over 28 years, specializing in healthcare, and so I saw this opportunity as a way in which Milliman can do even more outside of our traditional actuarial circles of making an impact with the work that we do.
Milliman is a business-to-business business model. We work for the businesses rather than the end consumer necessarily of directly the insurance product or the benefit of the risk protection that all of our work seeks to provide, and so the fact that the United Nations Development Programme is recognizing what a critical role insurance plays and underlying the accomplishment of their development goals, the sustainable development goals, is really what's at the heart of this initiative, and it's just a beautiful way that I think we get to have an even more direct link into the effects of actuarial work and actuarially related work we'll talk about as well through these efforts.
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Thanks, Merideth. Next up, we have Danh. Danh Mai is an actuary with Milliman’s Financial Risk Management (FRM) practice. Danh works out of our Chicago office and did an ambassador trip to Vietnam.
Danh Mai: Hi everyone, so I'm Danh, I just recently went to Vietnam for the GAIN trip. It was just last month, so it’s still fresh. I’m still missing the food and the people that I met with, for sure.
I've been with Milliman for about a year and a half, so I was very excited to join the trip. We were welcomed by a very large group of people of over 300 students, and they were very interested in what we do, as well as the work of our consulting actuaries.
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Thanks, Danh. Next, let’s hear from Reetu Singh, also from our Financial Risk Management practice. Reetu visited Nepal. She also has an ongoing role administering the mentoring program, which we’re going to talk more about. Reetu?
Reetu Singh: Hello. I have been with Chicago FRM for a little over 10 years. I lead the quality assurance team on the technology side. When this opportunity to be an ambassador for GAIN presented, I got involved being an ambassador for the mentorship program, specifically targeting Nepal at that time. But then, over a period of time, we expanded it to Nigeria, to Ghana, and then Colombia. So it's been a huge spectrum.
But specifically, when I got involved I was working towards preparing the job descriptions, getting in the mentors, getting in the mentees, conducting the applications, doing the pairings, and then staying afloat on all the correspondence that was going back and forth, getting involved with training the mentors and mentees. So, to that end, I have hosted about three sessions now to accommodate participants across three different time zones—Nepal, Nigeria, and Ghana—to train them over the aspects of the mentorship program. It was very nice attendance and refreshing to see so many people so interested show up for all these meetings.
But then, in the summertime, I was making a trip to my home country, India, and Nepal happens to be very close to India, just bordering. So I was very fortunate to make an ambassador trip to Nepal during that time, and part of the motivation was to get involved with the mentors and mentees who are local to the country.
I made a trip to TU, Tibetan University, which is one of their major universities that fills up the supply of mathematics graduates, actuarial professionals, and I was able to make a trip there and give them a nice presentation. The students were all mathematics majors working towards their bachelor's degree. But they were so keen on knowing the different aspects, even technology for that matter. You know, how does technology play in coding best practices? You know, I was surprised and actually it was very refreshing to see those kind of questions.
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Thanks, Reetu. And now let’s hear from Christine O'Brien. Christine is based in our Orange County office, where she works on casualty compliance. She did her ambassador trip to Tanzania.
Christine O'Brien: Hi, everyone. I have been with Milliman for three years as a compliance consultant. So although I am not an actuary, I felt that my experience in the regulatory compliance arena, along with my background as an educator, could really help bring some different ideas and perspectives when working with the different stakeholders throughout the country. So throughout this journey, I've had the opportunity to learn a lot more about the actuarial profession on a global scale, utilize skills that I do not regularly use in my current role, provide support in a developing country, and also work alongside many talented Milliman professionals.
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Thanks, Christine, and last but not least, we have Edward Moskovski. He’s a life actuary out of our Chicago office who visited Uzbekistan. Edward?
Edward Moskovski: So I was involved in one UNDP trip. That was the Uzbekistan trip that we did at the end of August, which is also, as we've been told, one of the worst times to go to Uzbekistan because it's the hottest part of the summer, which they ironically call chilla, the name of the season in Uzbek. But the experience was great. I first heard about UNDP and I remember looking at the map and I was like, well, so many interesting places. But Uzbekistan actually would be a particularly interesting place to go for me, I guess, because I've traveled to that region before and I'm fluent in Russian and I was always excited about learning more about the actuarial industry in developing markets, which are a little bit, in my opinion, like a “Wild West” for actuaries in some sense, and the trip really did turn out to be that. I personally learned a lot from the local cultural context, and it was a fantastic way to kind of facilitate the Milliman mission and actually have a global impact.
Different insurance markets, different program needs in each country
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Great, thanks, Edward. Merideth, you've been to three different countries on ambassador trips. You've seen a whole bunch of different kinds of situations, different needs, different potential interventions. So what are kind of some of the key variables that you've seen in GAIN countries?
Merideth Randles: That's a very good question. You're right. The three countries I've been to are very different. Obviously, just even from what I think the typical person is aware of, very disparate histories and economies and current situations that are driving all of the circumstances in which they may be looking to build out their economies, sustain economic development through insurance and actuarial capacity building.
Uzbekistan is just about at 30 years, one generation, out from being part of the Soviet Union and behind the Iron Curtain into 1991, where they were in a state-run economy where the government itself was the safety net for virtually the whole population. And a country like Ghana is at the other end of the extreme, where there's been historically very, very, very little, you know, in terms of insurance or safety net from a government or any other source. Over 80% of the population is still, the economy’s based in what’s the informal sector, essentially, you know, working for their own: farming, running a food stand, selling market goods. Much of their livelihood is hand to mouth and in their own hands.
And so the market for insurance products is different for each country in its different stages of economic development and, likewise, the government as well that they're pursuing to have. One of the interesting things that Edward and I found in Uzbekistan was how much they are seeking to learn from other countries around the world and follow an example of effective means of bringing in good insurance and actuarial capacity development. It was interesting to see that Singapore came up in conversation even as a bit where they were throwing them up as a model where they admire some of the programs, and the way they've been able to implement a lot from a government perspective. So we do learn a lot on these trips in terms of what the experts and the stakeholders there feel like is the best next steps for their insurance environment and then the actuarial capacity within that.
So the key for a lot of what we'll be discussing, since this is the genesis of our program and these assessment projects, is, really, these are the beginning. They're not the one-and-done visits. Jeremy mentioned the supply and the demand. So even though the countries are so different, we are looking at it in a framework of, when we talk to them about a potential project or intervention, is this something that's engineered towards increasing that supply of actuaries? Might it be from an educational or exam progress availability, or from a demand perspective in terms of the role that insurance plays in the local government's insurance commissioner and policies, regulatory framework, as well as for the employers themselves to understand the value of actuaries.
How non-actuaries help build the actuarial profession
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Great, thank you. You notice we have five panelists and they are not all actuaries. This is the Global Actuarial Initiative, but you don't have to be an actuary to be involved. Reetu and Christine are not actuaries. I'm not, either. Reetu, do you just want to talk about kind of your experience a little bit, bringing your skills to bear?
Reetu Singh: Yeah, sure. I applied to the mentorship program because I did have prior experience being a mentor, and then, of course, I understood that paradigm, what do you need to be a good mentor? What skills do you need to be a good mentee? I've been on both sides of the fence. From a technology perspective, as I got more and more involved and I made that trip to Nepal, it was clear that they were also interested in understanding the technological aspects of the actuarial world. Actuarial is one thing and then how do you apply technology to fast-forward it to become more innovative? So they were interested in that paradigm, too. So I became more involved on that side as well.
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Thank you. Christine, your expertise is compliance background in higher ed. Can you talk about your experience?
Christine O'Brien: Sure, absolutely. So I guess similar to Reetu, with me, having a background, like I said, in compliance as well as education, those are two things that are really important to me. But then also in my prior life, I used to do a lot of nonprofit work. So I think combining all of that made it very appealing to me, and the fact that in my role when I was at the college that I was teaching at, I led a German exchange program. So traveling abroad, kind of working with different cultures, establishing what the needs are of the students was something that was very natural to me. So I felt like this might be a good opportunity.
Uzbekistan needs more actuaries as insurance market evolves
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Great, thank you. It definitely takes a village and not just actuaries to make this all happen. So I want to talk a little bit about kind of what surprised you on your trips, and we can go one or two ways on this or both: kind of technology, technically wise, what surprised you, and then culturally, what was potentially surprising? Edward, do you want to go first?
Edward Moskovski: Sure, I guess from a technical or more of an actuarial perspective, there was so much to learn from the different insurance companies and like the challenges that insurance companies and actuaries face in different spheres. As part of our trip, we would visit different stakeholders and we would visit multiple insurance companies, and each insurance company would be faced with like its own particular challenges. For example, one insurance company would be developing tactics for Islamic insurance. Another insurance company would be dealing with reinsuring sanction risk. In parallel, the government would be developing an agricultural reinsurance mechanism, like an international agricultural reinsurance mechanism, and this was all, if not surprising, but it's all very interesting to learn, and very much outside of my main area of practice.
And in general, it was very interesting to visit this region and there was so much to learn and one thing that surprised me was kind of the level of economic development and initiative and reform that's happening in Uzbekistan now, and definitely that's not something that was visible to me prior to visiting the country. But you really see it hands-on and that's, I think, part of the reason why we were there, was also because the current government, there was a major government change in 2016. They've been really focused on reforms and opening up the economy and, as part of that, they're trying to make their insurance industry more transparent. And that's kind of how they arrived at, we need more actuaries, because we really need better reporting and oversight of the industry.
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Thank you, that's interesting. Meridith, what was surprising to you?
A pleasant surprise: The number of female actuaries and insurance professionals
Merideth Randles: Well, kind of as a broader cultural observation, I've been really pleasantly surprised and encouraged through all three of these country settings now for multiple months, how many women are involved in the work in these countries, and it's not just our United Nations Development Programme counterparts. In the insurance companies themselves, there's good participation of women as professionals and in the government areas that we've been engaging, within insurance commissioners and different regulators, et cetera. So even in certain circles, like in Ghana, talking to the group of CEOs and insurance companies, some of them are women, as well as even working together to encourage with specifically women in business development. So to be able to engage and see that happening across the world and something that you care about in your own community as well has also been very exciting.
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Cool. Danh, how about you?
Danh Mai: Yeah, just to follow what Merideth just said, I actually saw that too. Most of the students that I met are a majority female. So it's like a 70-30 split, which is a nice surprise as well. I guess in terms of the surprise I have, we met with the university, and when we asked to do a session with the teachers, then the teacher asked, after that session, can we also do a small session with the students as well? And so we agreed to do it. We expected like a small group of 20 to 30 people. But the day before, we learned that we had a lecture hall of 250-people capacity, but the signup would exceed the capacity. We got over 300 people. So it filled up the whole lecture hall and then they had to have the rest of the people in another room watching it on the live stream. So that's just to say people are super welcoming and they're really happy to see what we do.
GAIN spurs development of actuarial education worldwide
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: That's awesome. Christine, how about you?
Christine O'Brien: Sure. So there were a couple of things. So from a technical perspective, it was actually really surprising to learn that many of the instructors and lecturers were not qualified actuaries. In fact, most of them had never even taken an exam, but some of them had received exemptions through a graduate degree program. So, that said, in meeting with the students, they had mentioned that most of their learning was actually theory-based and very little of it was the practical application. So, very good at math. But then when it came to a few of them had been studying for exams, and they were saying that because they don't have the practical knowledge or that practical application, there was certainly a gap that was identified.
The other piece is that, I think due to the lack of qualified actuaries, the students actually did not receive very much support, just because there isn't that knowledge that was there. So rather, what they did is they developed some pretty strong student clubs within the universities, and it was so cool to see the students working together and supporting each other in their education and just really being passionate about the actuarial field. So coming back and meeting with the other ambassadors, it became really apparent that there was a gap in the education system across many countries, which had then led to the development of a subcommittee of GAIN that is focused on developing actuarial education throughout the globe.
So that's the technical piece. I guess, from a cultural perspective, it was interesting because we traveled to Tanzania during Ramadan. So most of the population was fasting during the day. When we were in Dar es Salaam, with it being the largest city, it wasn't as apparent. However, when we were in Zanzibar and we were traveling between meetings, we were told that we were prohibited from eating or drinking in public. But the escort that was leading us from the different meetings, he actually stopped at a roadside stand, picked up some bottles of water and some snacks, brought it over to our car and said, we understand that you guys are probably hungry and thirsty, so we really encourage you to eat and drink now before we get to our next meeting. So to see that, that they were very understanding and accommodating for our needs, was really cool to see.
In Nepal, student enthusiasm but professional obstacles
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Cool story. Reetu, how about you? What was surprising from your perspective?
Reetu Singh: I wouldn’t necessarily call it surprising, but a few things I learned, it was more educational, and I had heard about this, that the supply of actuaries in Nepal is really only a handful, maybe one qualified actuary. But then what I learned during my visit there is that, after the students graduate from the university, they have to come back and teach for two years at the same university in the department of mathematics. So it became clear that the country was trying hard to invest in their actuarial professionals, in their mathematics graduates.
But then another aspect of it that I learned was that the industry itself, when they go and work, and not necessarily on the actuarial side, they may be working in any industry, but then they are not very open. So it's a workplace cultural thing, but they were not very open to the idea of taking time off to write an actuarial exam or to study for the actuarial exam. So what I learned was that cultural difference was what was probably hampering their actuarial supply a little bit, if not a whole lot. But people quickly were coming to the point of, we'll find a job in our area of specialization, and that was what I learned talking to some of these mentors that were coming in who were running these small actuarial organizations, not very many, but just a handful.
What I also learned was that there was significant brain drain. People were graduating and then they were going to work in countries where they could use their degree right away and then work on their exam along the way. So there was significant brain drain and then they brought up the concept of, yes, we can work on all of this, but what about retention? There is drain, but then there is also that concept of how do we retain whoever we train? So if we were to bring the mentors and mentees together, and we build this relationship and then they stand to benefit, write their exams and whatnot, how do we go ahead and retain them? Because the landscape there in terms of the actuarial industry, that was kind of limited.
On the student side, though, there was a lot of enthusiasm when I was at the university. These students who were there have so much potential. They totally were at the point that they even understood like, OK, so how do we code to make this all work? We understand the math, but what about the coding part? How do we make sure we are not coding necessarily in Excel? How do we code in C#? What do we do with Python? They understood data analytics. So there was so much enthusiasm and there was so much potential and this youth. You know, it's full of young people. The demographics are at the point of there's a lot of younger population. So it was interesting. It was not very surprising because that's how the demographic models are in many of the developing countries. But it was really enlightening and enriching to view some of this firsthand.
A homecoming for two Milliman volunteers from Vietnam
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Thanks, Reetu. So I have a question for Danh. Danh, you and your fellow Vietnam ambassador, Jerry Trung, are both originally from Vietnam. I understand you're from different parts of the country and that kind of served you well. Can you talk about this experience of returning to the place you were born as an ambassador and how that felt?
Danh Mai: Well, the first thing, I think I speak for both me and Jerry, is that it is the pride. You come back to your own place where you were born and see how it developed. You come back and try to help the society that raised you. Me, I was born in Vietnam. I grew up in Vietnam for 18 years. For Jerry, he's a consultant in the UK office right now, and he also grew up in Vietnam for about 16 years before he moved to the UK. So we have quite a bit of different experience as well, because I grew up in the South, Jerry grew up in the North. So we were able to cover a lot of ground between me and Jerry.
So we had over 30 meetings during our trip of 10 days. It was very productive. We covered a lot of different stakeholders, from university to company to regulator. I was able to take people around in the South and Jerry was able to take people around in the North. We were really able to show the cultural, but also we feel really highly fulfilled to show Vietnam to other people on the GAIN committee, but also to show people in Vietnam, that hey, there are other people from Vietnam that are hoping to help the country.
As part of that, I think we were so well-received, as well, is because Milliman is independent. And then we partner with a public sector like the UNDP, and together we're trying to help the countries, and when people see, especially regulators, that these ambassadors, they actually grew up in Vietnam, and they come back to help, it speaks volumes for that as well.
Actuarial need increases with the risks posed by climate change
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: That's great. It's clear that you're very proud of it and you should be. So I want to switch gears a little bit and talk a little bit about some of the risks that we are working on, and trying to help our GAIN countries mitigate. One of the big ones is climate change, and that manifests in a lot of different ways. Curious what you've seen in terms of how GAIN could potentially help, and in that regard, Merideth, maybe I'll start with you since you got to visit three different countries.
Merideth Randles: Yes, I agree. I would put this in the category, too, of how to successfully mitigate and address climate change within the insurance company and insurance environment. It’s been a topic of conversation in absolutely every one of the countries that we've engaged. Much like I feel like, on the professional kind of frontiers of what Milliman is engaging in ourselves when it comes to the climate risk initiatives and the collaborations, the rest of the world is right there and it's hungry for solutions, and this is an area where, in each of these countries, what is being done within the private realm and what's being done within the public, sovereign, and national type of realm is in different places. But climate risk itself affects everyone, and so it's obvious it's going to be something that both of those areas are working so hard to find effective solutions for. There is an opportunity to really apply our actuarial skills when it comes to thinking about appropriate risk modeling, forecasting, et cetera, within the span of climate risk, and contribute to a really significant and emerging area within these projects and really bring our thought work, because a lot of it at this point within these UNDP countries, like here at home, is, well, what can be done, what should be done, so much of this is in the solution development stage as we're trying to get our arms around the scale of this issue.
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Thanks, Merideth. Edward, do you have anything to add to that? I know you had some comments about some insurance lines that kind of fall into the climate change bucket, including crop insurance and livestock.
Edward Moskovski: We definitely have this question asked in Uzbekistan, and the two main areas where it comes into play is agricultural insurance is a big area of focus for the government and insurance companies in Uzbekistan in general, because I think it makes up like 30% of their gross domestic product (GDP), with cotton being the main crop. So they were really focused on agricultural insurance, where, of course, modeling climate risk is key, and then disaster risk as well.
In Uzbekistan, in particular, I think a significant portion of the population lives in regions that are prone to earthquakes, and some of the challenges that were mentioned were challenges pertaining to data, even existing climate or seismological data was not collected very well. At least that's what some of our stakeholders mentioned.
Stunning survey results from Tanzania’s actuarial students
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: I want to talk a little bit about education and some of our roles in those programs, and maybe just to kind of frame this a little bit. Question for Christine. You helped conduct a survey of actuarial students in Tanzania, and the results were kind of telling. Maybe “daunting” is the right word. But what did you see there?
Christine O'Brien: Yeah, I would say probably the biggest surprise was when we conducted the survey, approximately 90% of students who responded to the survey stated that they were going to be looking for work outside of Tanzania. That was a pretty shocking number to me. Most of them, I would say about three-quarters of them, said that they were actually going to pursue something outside of the actuarial field, and it was mostly because of just the lack of knowledge of the actuarial profession throughout the entire industry. Many of the stakeholders that we met with, they really did not understand what value actuaries bring to their organization.
So that was a gap that we had identified. And we all agreed that educating the public, educating the multiple stakeholders involved in the country was very important. But then also due to the lack of support from faculty, financial resources, and just the regulatory framework, they're in the process of putting things in place and identifying requirements for like a cosignatory role, as well as what it looks like to be a fully credentialed actuary in the country. But I think those were some of the contributing factors that we noticed when we did our assessment trip.
Regulatory pressures spur changes in actuarial profession worldwide
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: You know, that question of keeping the actuarial talent in-country is something that comes up over and over and over again. You mentioned kind of the cosigning role, and there's also some kind of global pressures that are contributing to that, and I'll reserve the risk-based capital (RBC) questions for the actuaries. But Merideth, I guess I'm curious just, again, three-country advantage. As I understand it, there are some regulatory pressures that are actually driving change pretty significantly.
Merideth Randles: Yes, that's true, and honestly, I think, probably across all the countries that we've been involved in and certainly ones that I've been able to witness to. One of the most significant levers, I think, in building out actuarial capacity and the insurers recognizing the need to do so is from a regulatory perspective. Many of these countries either have just kind of implemented a fairly comprehensive or mature industry regulatory framework or are on the pathway to it within the next couple of years, and with risk-based capital requirements, international standards, International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 17, solvency standards, things that continue to push forward the best practices for insurance, solvency, and sustainability—some of these countries are kind of going from zero to 100 in just a matter of years, whereas more and more developed markets across the world have had decades to progress into these areas.
So it's a rapidly emerging and key area where, when we go into these assessment visits, we're talking to the insurance regulators, finding out what is the status of it, do they realize if they put the requirements in for an actuarial function what that means and is it realistic? Or, if not, that is a huge, huge part that Edward alluded to in Uzbekistan. They want to have the requirement, they have to recognize that they need to have the actuaries to fulfill the requirement.
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Thanks, Merideth. Danh, can you talk about this dynamic? Because with Vietnam being, I think, probably the furthest along of the countries that are represented on this panel, you kind of see maybe a little more scaffolding moving towards these global regulations, but they still have a long ways to go. So what are you seeing in this dynamic?
Danh Mai: Yeah, so in Vietnam, there’s a big difference between the life and the non-life sector. The life sector is pretty developed, with about 30 qualified actuaries and like 300 actuarial practitioners in general. But on the non-life side, it’s very limited. Usually, actuaries on the non-life side only have like one or two actuaries per company, and they have less than three exams.
We came to Vietnam at the right time. They just have a new rule implemented at the beginning of 2023, and so the new rule says that, in the next three years, every non-life company needs an associate to sign, to be the appointed actuary, and then in the next five years they need to be a fellow. And the reason why the timeline was so kind of short, is only five years to get to the fellow, is because they try to implement RBC by 2028. So they have a hard deadline there for people to be a fellow. So that dynamic might lead a property and casualty (P&C) company looking for expats to meet the regulation.
And in terms of the regulator, they have no actuary, and so that's also a challenge as well, and there are certain things that are sort of limited by that, for example the mortality table. Even though the industry is pretty developed and we have a lot of actuaries there, they’re still using a 1980 mortality table from the U.S. instead of developing Vietnam's own mortality table. It's because regulators still struggle with seeing the importance of it and also are having trouble implementing it as well.
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson: Great, thanks, Danh, and thanks to all of our ambassadors for joining us today to celebrate one year of the UNDP-Milliman GAIN initiative. I’m excited to see what the program can accomplish in the second year and in the years ahead. In the meantime, you can learn more about Milliman’s work around the world on the Social Impact page at Milliman.com.
Growing the actuarial profession in the developing world: Where the UNDP-GAIN initiative stands after one year
Five Milliman volunteers reflect on the first year of work with the United Nations Development Programme to expand actuarial capacity and help end poverty.