Interview Elsevier 21 July 2012

Servaas Houben (31)

Senior actuary at insurance company Prudential in London

‘Living in London is absurdly expensive”

By Rentsje de Gruyter

“When I studied econometrics, I had never heard of actuaries. I considered becoming an actuary myself after a former classmate told me what actuaries do. They calculate future obligations of insurers and pension funds. These can fluctuate every day, for example, due to new rules and regulations. Hence actuaries have to update their calculations continuously. Constant developments in calculation techniques, requires actuaries to develop themselves all the time, which is something I enjoy.”

“I have been working in the United Kingdom for the past three years now, and since last summer at Prudential in London, a major British insurer. I manage a group of actuaries, who model the main factors that may influence the Prudential’s financial strength. Dependent on how positive or negative these factors turn out we create financial scenarios.

“I might return to the Netherlands sometime in the future, however I would prefer working for myself then. My wife Kareljan and I intend to raise a family and Amsterdam seems therefore a better, quieter environment than London. Moreover, life here is absurdly expensive. Although the salary level in London is high, one does not feel wealthy in London, especially as the renting prices are high. Kareljan can find work anywhere as she is an accountant. But unlike her name suggests, she does not speak Dutch yet. She Trinidadian – Her father invented an original name for his daughter.”

“Last year we had our civil wedding a couple of weeks ago we organised the church wedding. The location of our wedding was in the South of Limburg, where I grew up. We had a wonderful rented castle where our 65 guests also staying. For dinner they got all kinds of local dishes such as asparagus with ham and eggs. “

About Servaas Houben

I am a Dutch actuary and worked in the Netherlands for the first 4 years of my career. Thereafter, I worked for 2 years in Dublin and 4 years in London. I am now heading the actuarial department of ENNIA in Curacao.
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3 Responses to Interview Elsevier 21 July 2012

  1. Wyatt says:

    I find your blog really interesting!

    I would appreciate it if you could answer a few questions. I’m currently in my final year of Actuarial Science degree and I would like to work in Europe. I tried to look for a summer internship last year in London but to no avail… I know now is probably a bad time to graduate. I was wondering if it’s possible to get a job in actuarial field in Europe considering I only speak English and Chinese. Do they have their own board of exams? Do you think it will enhance my employability if I start doing the American board of exams because I understand that I can’t take the UK board until I graduate?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Good questions!

      Yes the actuarial profession is unfortunately rather scattered, unlike for example CFA where there is only one degree which is recognized worldwide.

      It is indeed quite a difficult time to graduate. It might be most realistic to try to find a job in Asia first: the insurance market there is booming and there is high demand for people speaking the local languages: the working hours are very long, but once you are qualified you are more flexible and could consider moving to Europe again.
      When Europe is your preferred destination, Holland and Germany might be most realistic as with English you should be fine. Another option could be to get into actuarial via IT: actuaries with programming skills are very high in demand and hence some people start there career in a more IT based environment before moving across to actuarial.

      There is mutual recognition within Europe, so if you take European exams and then work in the UK for a year you can apply for the UK actuarial title. When considering the American exams, you might want to check if these provide you with exceptions if at a later stage you find a UK job and switch to the UK exams instead.

      • Wyatt says:

        Thank you for your insight :):)

        I have been trying to look jobs in Germany online. But all these job websites only advertise vacancies for part qualified/qualified actuaries. Do you know any specific company or website that might help in this case? I am on course of getting 7 or 8 CT exemptions for the UK board.

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