What does an Insurance Analytics Actuary do?

Keyboard keypad with insurance written on it

Clara Yan, Head of Insurance Analytics at Robeco talks about her role, how her actuarial skills have helped in this role and sector, and discusses her career path.

What does an Insurance Analytics Actuary do?

An insurance analytics actuary working within an asset management firm builds analytics that would help insurers make investment decisions. This could be in the form of building a model which takes insurance requirements (such as capital requirement or cashflow matching) and creates a portfolio optimised for return, risk and other characteristics. 

As an insurance analytics actuary working at a sustainability-focused asset management firm - my work also involves integrating sustainability analytics such as carbon emission, energy consumption, water usage, and the UN sustainable development goals (SDG) into the portfolio construction process. Ultimately my role is to help insurers navigate the complex interactions between maximising return, managing risks, and meeting regulatory requirements and sustainability objectives.  

How does this role make use of actuarial skills?

When I think about actuarial skills – I often think of actuaries using statistical techniques to manage uncertainty. And there are overlaps between managing uncertainties coming from climate change and sustainability and managing uncertainties in an insurance context.

Both have data gaps and data quality questions that need to be checked and looked at. Both make use of models where assumptions and approximations are made. Both require the use of judgment to analyse and interpret the results with imperfect information.

I have also found that my experience in dealing with insurance regulations has been transferable when planning for climate and sustainability regulatory changes. From looking at EU Sustainable Finance to the FCA Sustainability Disclosure Requirements on sustainable labels on investment products.

What does your typical day/week look like?

My activities are driven by client projects and they can vary on a day-by-day basis.

A typical day may include:

- Working with a client to check if their portfolio would meet their net zero carbon emission target and suggesting ideas that would help them transition to a more climate friendly portfolio.

- Building forward-looking climate metrics such as implied temperature score into our bond portfolio construction process.

- Helping clients to understand how they could generate positive impacts under the UN Sustainable Development Goals framework. 

- Writing a joint paper with our portfolio managers on constructing sustainable multi-asset portfolios.

- Working with our biodiversity specialist and thinking about how to support insurers looking for nature-based solutions.

What do you enjoy about your role?

Sustainable investment solution goes beyond just looking at financial outcomes. I like the fact that we get to consider the broader impact an investment decision would have on the world.

There is no single answer to this and I ended up having many interesting discussions with sustainability specialists, investment teams, and insurers on how we can generate positive social and climate impact and meet insurers’ business requirements. It has been rewarding to work with experts from different fields to come up with innovative ideas. 

For example - with many insurers framing their sustainable strategy through the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), we have created a framework that allows insurers to construct portfolios with a positive skew towards their own selected SDGs. (eg SDG 3 for health and well-being or SDG 13 for climate action).

It has also been exciting to see insurers taking on their role as asset owners and stakeholders in the companies and influencing change, from improving diversity to engaging with companies on how they can create plans to lower their carbon emissions in the future.

What was your career path into this role?

My journey started when I was deciding on which degree I wanted to choose at a university. Delving into it a bit more, I liked the idea of applying mathematical skills in a commercial context and decided to pursue an actuarial degree. After qualifying as an actuary – I worked as an asset-liability modeller for a life insurer where I was very interested in understanding how asset interacts with liability. This inspired an interest to learn more about investments and a shift in my career path.

Subsequently, I worked for an investment bank and an asset manager, acting as an advisor between structurers, portfolio managers and insurers in creating investment solutions, which work from a business perspective and fit in with regulatory and asset liability considerations.

Most recently, I joined Robeco to help insurers integrate sustainable analysis as well into the broader investment framework.

And what do you like to do when not working?

I’m an enthusiastic skier with an interest in sampling cuisines from around the world. When the weather (and time) permits - I love a good walk around the English countryside.