Zoe Bolton, Managing Director of the specialist actuarial search and selection firm www.boltonassociates.com recently interviewed our Chief Actuary, Chris Tang for the August 2020 edition of 'Actuarial Post'.
And it appears, despite many rumours to the contrary, actuaries really do have quite a sense of humour!
What is your current role, and how did you end up in it?
I'm currently the Chief Actuary in Mulberry Risk. My responsibilities cover all deliverables that we provide to clients, which can vary from high-level strategic reviews to the nitty-gritty of revamping algorithms.
Mulberry Risk was founded by my previous manager back in Marsh and when the opportunity came calling (in a pub naturally), I decided to join the start-up life that would allow me to shape unique product offerings to a market that has at times been plagued by legacy inertia.
What is the defining moment of your career to date?
Probably when I was spread-betting into the early hours after a certain event and realised that I need more physical exercise. That and the subsequent realisation that I can apply my actuarial skills well in wider areas.
On a more serious note, I would say my experience in Marsh has played an important role. Not only did it introduce me to the more commercial elements of the market that would serve me well later on, but also the network around the City and their interactions with various bits of the industry.
In your opinion, what prepared you best to take on your current role?
Taking on board opinions, criticism, and iterating is the quickest way to improve. There are many characters in the market, both in and out of the actuarial field, that have unique insights into their domain of expertise. Factoring in and acting upon each comment along the way tend to accumulate in a big way.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your role within this market?
Time! Currently we are finding many clients that are receptive to our ideas and ethos on their books of business. Balancing my schedule amongst deliverables, developmental work, and building up a young team can be fairly hectic.
How does your actuarial training and background assist in your day-to-day role now?
The training provides a solid base of technical skills that allow actuaries to interrogate and reason with the data observed/available. However, I see the real value stems from building upon those skills and being able to answer the inevitable follow up questions of "so what?". The actuarial knowledge may help one to avoid pitfalls and get you halfway, but it will still need the commercial know-how to finish the journey for our clients.
When did you first join the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries, and what advice would you give to those students looking to emulate your career path?
I joined just under a decade ago in 2010. In terms of advice, whilst it's nice to finish and have the exams out of the way, there is always something new to learn as technology evolves. Get involved in as many projects as possible, take risks in voicing opinions, and above all learn from mistakes and failures.
If you had your time again, what would you do, career-wise?
Probably try and learn skiing at a young age and be semi-pro later on whilst working as a quant-hedge fund programmer in a chalet somewhere in the Swiss Alps drinking mulled-wine for breakfast.
Please share your favourite piece of trivia with our readers!
Steve Jobs once agreed to autograph a piece of Apple keyboard only after he ripped out the keys that he deemed unnecessary using his car keys, declaring in the process that he's "changing the world, one keyboard at a time".
The article appears in August's edition of Actuarial Post https://bit.ly/2Ock7KV
Chris Tang is Chief Actuary at the Insurance Analytics Consultancy, www.mulberryrisk.com