If you are based in North America and have the desire to work overseas, there are things you should do to put yourself in the best position possible to make such a move.
The markets around the world vary, so how you position yourself will largely depend on your geographic goals. However, there are some essentials that will hold true no matter where you want to live:
- consistent exam progress
- strong computer skills
- language skills for your desired location
- strong general communication skills (the ability to communicate with non-actuaries).
- Read extensively about the insurance market in the countries you are considering.
- Be aware of the trends and activities in the marketplace.
- Manage your career in a way that you develop skills desired in your country of choice.
Bottom line: you need to be a top caliber candidate in order to stand out and above local candidates.
The Current World Market for Entry-level Candidates:
The demand for entry-level actuaries outside North America is quite slim. The supply of entry-level actuaries in North America is greater than the supply of open positions, and this fact holds true globally. I have seen a few North American—educated entry-level candidates who are citizens of Asian countries move back to Asia for entry-level employment, but not in large numbers, and in most cases they have done so with an employer they had contact with prior to moving to North America to study.
The Current World Market for Experienced Candidates:
There are open positions in various countries around the world where they are looking specifically for North American—trained actuaries. If a global company is looking to hire, with either headquarters or a presence in North America, the first place they look is within their own company. There are numerous actuaries all over the globe who have transferred within their current company. In some cases the employer will offer the Actuary a two-year temporary assignment to work overseas from North America with the idea that the person will either return to North America after the term is over or sign up to stay for another year or two. In other cases, they have offered the candidate a full and permanent transfer to the other country.
If you are a North American-based actuary with a company that does not have the ability to offer overseas employment and you want to move overseas, plan on a fairly lengthy search. Rather than setting your sights on making the international move, you may want to look domestically at international companies and firms so that you are gaining skills that lend themselves to international employment and you are also positioning yourself for a possible internal transfer down the road. If you are set on packing your bags and moving overseas immediately, there may not be immediate openings for your experience at your level, so although there is always the possibility of a quick match, it is more likely that the process with take a lot of lengthy exploration. As with any career move, it is important to find the right fit, and finding the right fit overseas will take even more work than it would for a domestic move because you will be competing against local candidates.
Article written in Spring 2011 by Sally Ezra, Partner and Co- Founder of Ezra Penland Actuarial Recruitment, who has over fifteen years of actuarial recruiting experience. Ezra Penland Actuarial Recruitment specializes in the recruitment of actuaries, and related fields such as catastrophe, predictive, and financial modeling and analytics. Learn more at www.EzraPenland.com.