It seems everybody admires a good actuary, but even in these risk-aware times, banks aren't yet snapping them up.
Luke Heath, chief executive of Chandler Heath Executive Recruitment, says banks think highly of actuaries, but this hasn't translated into increased demand for their unique brand of numeracy skills.
"The major intake point for the banks is at the graduate level and good candidates should have a very well-regarded undergraduate degree. They can earn between $75k and $95k, but there's no real demand here either," he says.
Nor does Heath expect demand to pick up anytime soon. "In Australia we've had mergers such as St George and Westpac and this has reduced activity this year. There is a pool of risk candidates on the market who will be taken up first. While actuaries have good backgrounds, it's not as relevant as an experienced numerate, risk manager."
Al Ritchie, director of Ritchie and Associates Recruitment, says there hasn't been an overall increase in demand for actuaries. "However for those with banking experience, who have modeling skills, there is reasonable demand. Banks are going for candidates with practical ability who can hit the ground running to bring value immediately."
Should firms be taking on more actuaries to help manage their risks? Trevor Thompson, president of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia, says his members can provide retail and wholesale banking-operations teams with a unique set of risk-management skills.
"Whether it's the banks or life companies, they want to manage themselves as best they can to avoid risks. Typically actuaries will be used in very sophisticated areas of credit risk and derivative management in banks, but they also have a real contribution to make in overall risk management of the companies," says Thompson.
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