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An international career as actuary – insights from an experienced international actuary

Dr. Schiller is Chief Actuary Life & Health Reinsurance Europe and Middle East at Munich Re and works on an honorary basis for the Actuarial Association of Europe. In our interview, he looks back on his career, provides insights into his daily work and offers tips for young actuaries.
Written on 10/27/21

1. Dr Schiller, You are Chief Actuary Life & Health Reinsurance Europe and Middle East at Munich Re. What are your tasks and responsibilities in this position? And how international is your day to day professional life? 

My responsibility includes everything from data management and analytics for all relevant products and services to deriving our actuarial assumptions for pricing, the pricing tool we need for this as well as the operational pricing. In addition, I lead the risk managers for this region although, in terms of functional reporting, they report to the segment CRO. 
We are active in more than 30 countries, meaning we have a broad range of life and health products, all with local features for the respective countries, in our portfolio. Because the services and pricing we support always involve a lot of detail, we are in close contact with the experts in the local companies. Therefore, it’s fairly common for us to communicate with our customers not only in German but also in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese or Italian.

2. Did you always want to have an international role? Why?

When I was at university, during my post-graduate studies, I found it fascinating to work on international research with mathematicians in Canada and the Netherlands. Since then I’ve always tried to maintain this internationality, where possible, in all the roles I’ve had. The thing I find most fascinating is experiencing different cultures at work and also discovering the different solutions offered in the different markets we work in. Looking at the many dif-ferent solutions to similar problems is always very inspiring.

3. You are also involved in the Actuarial Association of Europe (AAE). You are Vice-Chair of the Risk Management Committee and Chair of the Sustainability and Climate related Risks Working Group. How did you reach these positions at the AAE? 

After I had always been extremely interested in the various aspects of the Solvency regime, and had gathered broad experience in the different positions I have had, it was only natu-ral for me, as Chair of the DAV’s ERM committee, to represent the DAV internationally in the field of risk management. As at the DAV, the topic of sustainability comes under risk management at the AAE, too, and for me this is currently one of the most important issues that actuaries should be working on. Therefore, I’m particularly pleased to have been asked to chair this working group.

4. In your opinion is the actuarial profession becoming more international? Why?

The more internationally standardised regulation and accounting becomes the more we will need international networking among the actuarial profession. We are, of course, wit-nessing these trends at the moment, e.g., with Solvency II and with the forthcoming intro-duction of IFRS17.
But other high-priority topics such as data science or climate change are not just local issues and need to be managed internationally. Here, too, actuaries should play a crucial role and therefore be involved on an international level.

5. What would you advise young actuaries who wish to embark on an international career? 

Large companies often enable employees to spend some years working abroad. Use this opportunity to really get to know the culture and language in the foreign country. And don’t forget that international or European actuarial congresses also give you the opportunity to find out more about current developments in other countries. The virtual or hybrid formats that have become commonplace in recent years mean that it is easier to participate in such congresses these days.

6. Finally a personal question: what do you do in your spare time to strike a balance to your professional life?

I do a lot of walking and am a keen nature photographer. It’s good to get some fresh air and some time away from the computer screen -- especially after one and half years of working from home and taking part in so many video conferences …