Christopher Tam CPA, Director, Actuarial and Insurance Solutions at Deloitte, says soft skills are a key component to success. He shares what he enjoys about working in the actuarial and insurance field, and developments in Hong Kong’s insurtech landscape
What have been the three biggest lessons in your career so far?
The first is to speak the same language as those you work with. No matter how sophisticated or great your proposed solution is, if you can’t ensure that your supervisor, counterparts or clients understand what you are saying, it won’t be valued. The second is to think about how a situation could go wrong and prepare a contingency or mitigation plan. In the past, I worked for a company to deliver workshops for C-suites. My fellow trainer was too nervous to deliver his part of the training, but I was prepared to cover for him. Lastly, try to put yourself in others’ shoes. Most of the time when I’ve been able to win projects, it is because I think from the client’s perspective.
What do you like most about specializing in actuarial and insurance?
It’s a combination of the current skills scarcity, and the qualitative and business management aspects of it. With talent leaving Hong Kong due to various reasons and a lack of overseas talent coming in due to COVID-19 restrictions, the labour market is facing a shortage of actuarial expertise, so these skills are needed right now. And, while I enjoy the quantitative aspect, I also enjoy using qualitative skills to resolve business problems like investment pricing, capital and risk management. Actuarial skills are more than just the numerical analysis; it’s about knowing how to apply it to resolve business problems and deliver insurance solutions.
In what ways has your CPA training helped you in your career?
With my CPA training, I’m able to look at issues from a governance and controls perspective, all while ensuring high standards. This is my DNA. This has certainly been important in the management consulting industry. No matter what type of project I am doing, my CPA training has taught me how important it is to enforce project governance, deliver high standards, maintain an audit trail and appropriate documentation as evidence for clients of the quality service delivery.
What do you view as key for successful International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) 17 project planning or implementation?
IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts, effective for periods beginning on or after 1 January 2023, is a very challenging project. The key success factors for this kind of project is strong leadership and governance, and bringing together expertise in accounting, actuarial and information technology. It’s about collaboration and vendor management. IFRS 17 brings end-to-end transformation from your source system to your actuarial models, and to your ledger, which requires a diverse set of skills. So strong leadership will ensure you place the right skill set in the right place with effective governance, controls and collaboration.
What key developments are you seeing in Hong Kong’s insurtech landscape?
One key area that I’m seeing is insurance front office digitalization and transformation. For example, cloud-based data analytics or pricing using artificial intelligence, digital sales platforms or real-time insurance quotation comparisons are being explored across different markets. In Hong Kong, the key success factor for growing the insurtech landscape is having insurtech be part of the corporate vision. This is the case for some large companies where insurtech has become part of their corporate vision.