Picture taken by FJK, Fotografie Jacques Kok.
On the 5th of October 2020, I had a very interesting conversation with drs. Ron van Oijen AAG. Ron is both chairman of ‘Koninklijk Actuarieel Genootschap’ and ‘Actuarieel Instituut’ (AG & AI). AG is the Dutch professional association of actuaries and actuarial analysts. AI offers educational programmes such as the Executive Master of Actuarial Science (EMAS) for graduated Actuarial Science students to become an official actuary with the corresponding title AAG.
Nice to finally meet you, Ron! Can you tell me something about your own career? How did you end up becoming an actuary?
Before I started studying Actuarial Sciences, I worked for the Dutch police force. I liked that job, but I wanted a new challenge, something different. One day when I was browsing a magazine I found an interesting article with a list of professions, their career options and salary indication. Number 3 was ‘actuary’. As I was quite good in mathematics at high school, this seemed the best choice for me.
That is why I started studying Actuarial Science at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Over time, however, I wanted to do something more and different, so I applied for a semester of studying abroad. I received a list of places to choose from at the UvA's study career center and eventually went to San Francisco. This was an amazing experience for me and I even stayed there for two years. I studied Master of Business Administration (MBA) and applied for jobs in the meantime. During that time I experienced how much status I had being an (almost) actuary and it opened many doors for me. This ultimately resulted in a job offer. However after two years I decided to move back to finish my studies in Amsterdam.
After graduating I became an actuary. For the last 20 years, I worked as CEO of ING Insurance in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, ING Insurance South Korea and as regional CEO of ING in Hong Kong after which I became the CEO of AIA in Thailand. After my foreign adventures, I started working again in the Netherlands as CEO of VIVAT Insurances.
What was your main motivation to study Actuarial Sciences?
I was looking for something challenging, yet also something that was worth something outside academic science. I have experienced that with good motivation and broadening your horizon, the title of actuary can take you almost anywhere you want. It is a title that is used all over the world and people know what it stands for. It is also a so-called protected title recognized worldwide by the International Actuarial Association (IAA). That is why I had al lot of confidence in what Actuarial Sciences could bring me in the future.
What is it like being an actuary? What does it involve?
As you may know, an actuary is mainly concerned with insurances, pensions and their associated risks. However, the life of an actuary does not just include calculating insurances and risks. During your study to become an actuary, you will learn many skills that can also be used outside of the insurance and pensions world. People and companies are at risk all the time and everywhere, but sometimes they find it difficult to assess these risks. An actuary could be helpful in this setting.
For example, a few weeks after the outbreak of Covid-19 and the suspension of competitions, we were in contact with teams in the Eredivisie and First League to help them assess the risk to the football leagues related to Covid-19 measures. After the initial talks, it became clear that they were struggling to have an idea of how far the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak reached. They had suspected and hoped that it wouldn’t be long before everyone could play football again with supporters. It was new to them to see that everything has a chance and that you have to take this risk into account even though you think it is highly doubtful that it will happen.
How do you see the future of actuaries in a time of increasing automation? Do we still need actuaries?
Yes, we definitely need actuaries. Of course many tasks can be performed by computers, risk is still something that must be assessed by people. It is not just about numbers, it is also a subjective thing and we still need an actuary to estimate this risk.
Apart from the increasing trend of automation, there are also sectors and industries that are still demanding professionals such as actuaries. Analytical people with a broad knowledge of risk and how to estimate this risk are still in high demand and actuaries can fill this gap as they have this broad knowledge of risk.
In our society with many connected networks, there is also more risk involved with computer networks due to the possibility of hacks of important documents and theft of assets. This is a growing risk. But at the same time it is also an opportunity where the knowledge and skills of an actuary can be used as a starting point to assess these risks.
In short I see a bright future for actuaries with many opportunities and new fields where their knowledge can be useful and highly necessary.
What is exactly the role of AG?
We control the Dutch standards of the title actuary (AAG) in collaboration with the IAA. Apart from that, we organize many interesting meetings for our members and are mainly aimed at maintaining and broadening their knowledge. For example, a meeting could be about new regulations in actuary accounting which are important for our members to get to know. Our members have to pass a number of subjects per year, so that we can guarantee the level of the title AAG and to keep our members up to date.
My role within AG is that of chairman of the board. As a board, we do our best to make as many people as possible enthusiastic about the actuarial profession, Actuarial Sciences and everything that comes with it. We see a bright future for actuaries and we hope that many new actuaries will join our field and our association.
Thank you for the interview, Ron! How can people find the AG on the internet?
Please visit our website to get in touch with us or to learn more about our association or being an actuary: https://www.ag-ai.nl/ActuarieelGenootschap