The top 5 soft skills you need to succeed as an actuary in general insurance

You’re a hardworking actuary in General Insurance. Having been in the industry for a few years, you know your job requires a high level of mathematical and analytical skills.

However, to become truly successful in your role and rise to the top, there are other skills you need to develop. The smart technician may be the predominant image you aspire to, but what’s really important is the depth of your perspective, the breadth of your discipline and equally as important, your ability to communicate effectively.

With this in mind, here are our top 5 soft skills to aid you in your professional development and help you secure that much deserved promotion:

Communication Skills

The capacity to think commercially and communicate clearly should not be underestimated. Your ability to influence and engage with the business is paramount in your success as an actuary. The good news is that soft skills can be developed (just like technical skills!) but it will require focus, commitment and most importantly, patience.

Why are soft skills so important? Well, the role of the actuary has changed in the last 20 years. The ability to communicate concisely with clients and colleagues is essential in differentiating yourself from your peers. Proficient leadership skills, social skills and communication skills are a necessity in the business world, where, if you are a consulting actuary for example, you are having to communicate extremely complex and difficult information to people who have no training in actuarial concepts. Effective communication skills are also vital in managing junior employees, projects, work-streams and winning new business.

Leadership Skills

As an actuary, you are increasingly finding yourself being placed in positions of leadership that necessitate competencies and qualities beyond expertise in the actuarial domain.

Recent leadership trends point to the importance of leadership qualities that are often overlooked, such as values, vision, interpersonal skills and personal mastery.

Leadership skills coupled with effective communication skills that are backed up by technical ability will deliver actionable insight for the business. Go beyond identifying and measuring the problem; taking the brilliance of your spreadsheet and sharing this articulately with a wider audience will help you stand out from the actuarial crowd.

Be positive, provide motivation and inspiration to other members of your team. Learn how to delegate tasks in an efficient manner, seek feedback across all levels of the organisation, and become a true source of help and support to those around you.

Networking Skills

It’s incredibly important to build your networks, share knowledge within this technical industry and learn from others. People you meet and build key relationships with may be able to assist you with critical business projects and therefore, increase your pool of knowledge and value to any employer.

Effectiveness and efficiency can be improved for the better when you call upon your established network of industry peers. Identify sought-after experts and senior actuaries in other firms and work on building a strong relationships to call upon for tough tasks. It’s never been a better time for you to accept all those invitations for ‘networking drinks’!

Business Acumen

While you know your discipline in more depth and precision than the layperson, there is sometimes a challenge in face-to-face situations with the shrewd business person. For many actuaries, this happens when they meet a top sales producer or a leader of a significant brokerage operation.

Actuaries need to stand on equal footing with these individuals; unfortunately, many actuaries make the mistake of feeling that the shrewd business person is at a disadvantage due to lack of analytical skills, formal education or accreditation. The reality is the actuary can learn much from the shrewd business person in becoming a more rounded professional.

You should learn more about what constitutes a sale in your business, what processes sustain quality revenue and what the ongoing relationship between revenue, expense and income for your business is. In so doing, you can begin to truly understand a business and develop the senior management and strategic skills required for leadership.

Negotiation and Influencing

It helps for you to be capable of negotiating on behalf of your primary stakeholders and influencing decision making by putting forward a persuasive, reasoned argument for why, in your (actuary’s) opinion, a particular course of action should be taken or avoided. This means you should also be able to apply expert judgement in developing an opinion, deciding what the key issues are, and determining when it is appropriate to challenge the board (or other stakeholders).

By developing the above-mentioned skills, you will set yourself up for a truly rewarding actuarial career and rise to the top.

If you’re looking to advance your actuarial career or simply seek advice on how to improve your skill set, get in touch with us by calling +44 (0)20 3773 2321 or email info@hewittstone.com to arrange a confidential and informal chat.

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