Actuarial careers in banking: Paul Walsh

Two people meeting at a desk

Paul Walsh, the founder of Acumen Resources, an actuarial recruitment organisation, is a Fellow of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries in the UK and a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland.

 

Tell us a bit about your role and background

I’m a Fellow both of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland and of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in the UK. Before founding Acumen Resources, I worked in both direct writing and consulting actuarial environments. At Acumen, I have overall responsibility for the Irish office and focus on the ongoing development of Acumen Resources’ business.

I’m a keen proponent of promoting the actuarial skillset to wider fields, particularly in banking and aviation. I’m a member of a number of Society of Actuaries committees (Wider Fields, Banking and Aviation finance). I also recently completed a law degree.

 

What made you choose actuarial recruitment as a career path?

I enjoy working with and helping really talented people. The actuarial profession is a niche profession with intelligent and focused individuals. As an actuarial recruiter, I get a lot of satisfaction from helping actuaries transition into a new role and providing advice that can often make a big difference to the trajectory of their future actuarial career.

 

How did the actuarial skillset equip you for this role?

Immensely – I understand the actuarial skills needed to perform every job, have numerous actuarial contacts, regularly attend actuarial events and have a network of friends and colleagues in the industry providing me with an intimate knowledge of the marketplace. A large number of candidates apply solely to me because they like the fact that they can speak to an actuary about their career. This is effective at all levels but it particularly encourages senior actuaries who wouldn’t normally contact a recruitment agency.

 

What are some of the most interesting discoveries you’ve made while working in this role?

There’s nothing we can’t do (within limits). Our limitations are our risk-averseness and our striving for perfection. Both these are just our internal psychological limitations – our actual abilities don’t act as limiters.

 

What have been some of the challenges?

The growth of the profession and trying to keep pace with it! The actuarial profession has grown rapidly in Ireland since its humble beginnings in 1972 when the Society of Actuaries in Ireland was established with just 17 actuaries. Apparently, Ireland now has the highest number of actuaries per capita in the world.

90% of Irish actuaries currently work in the insurance and pension industries. Thanks, in part, to the development of the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in the 1980s, in Dublin’s Docklands area, and Ireland’s low corporation tax rate, the financial services industry has grown hugely in Ireland over the years. Actuaries in Ireland are working across a wide range of consulting and (re)insurance companies and more recently in banking and aviation finance. Breaking new ground into banking has been one of the most challenging, but also the most rewarding.

 

What were some of your most powerful learning moments?

I would say one of the most important things is to learn to network. The recent Covid-19 crisis has shown us just how much we can do with technology and the same goes for efficient networking. It’s now more important than ever to build a wide network of trusted individuals to help connect you to the right people and to provide timely advice when required.

 

Do you see yourself remaining in banking?

Given the nature of both my personality and my current role, I am keen to support actuaries segueing into other fields, be it banking or any other.

 

How will you use what you have learned in the future?

The actuarial profession is going through a period of change. We have a long history with strong roots, but our challenge now is to adapt and move with the times. Some of the key challenges are to ensure that we remain relevant and continue to act as trusted advisers of risk and uncertainty to the many stakeholders we currently serve. I believe the Society of Actuaries in Ireland is embracing these challenges and helping actuaries in Ireland to move forward in the digital age.

Digitalisation and the emergence of data science are opening up new opportunities to actuaries in fields they may traditionally not have considered, such as banking, aviation, finance and insurtech.

You can find out more about career opportunities in banking, as well as a range of support and resources on our Banking Lifelong Learning web page.