Welcome to the first episode of business spotlight, where I will be chatting to interesting people about their businesses. What a better way to start this series than by chatting to a good friend of mine that has shaken up the Actuary industry worldwide!
I first met Adi Kaimowitz back in 2010 when he was running a recruitment company for Actuaries. While Adi was placing some of the top Actuaries in South Africa, he had dreams. In fact, I remember Adi telling me he wants to open an Ice Cream shop. Luckily Adi decided to rather stick with what he knows best, Actuaries, Kite Surfing and LinkedIn which he has over 59 recommendations (Adi is very proud of this).
So once Adi realized that an ice cream business would be a bit cold for him, he opened up Virtual Actuary which has shaken up the Actuary industry not only in South Africa but globally.
I sat down with Adi, over an Ice Cream, to find out more about Virtual Actuary.
CTG: So Adi, give me the low down on what Virtual Actuary is and what your role is
Adi: Hi Cape Town Guy! Believe it or not, from our little coastal town, we have one of the most advanced actuarial consulting businesses in the world. We are new but have already started talking to and servicing clients all over the world. The easiest way to describe our business is as follows: Actuaries work across a few sectors. Life Insurance, General Insurance, Banking, Pensions, Investments, Healthcare, Reinsurance and a new category called Wider Fields which incorporates Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence for a whole range of different types of clients. Our actuaries work across all these sectors and offer services generally to the clients who in most cases are actuaries themselves. These clients normally have pretty big teams of actuaries and we help them with special assignments, capacity and global expansion projects. Our clients are very big organisations but we are also starting to service smaller players in the market locally and globally who refer to themselves as either Insurtech or fintech businesses. These smaller companies are basically trying to take on the big established organisations. They are small, with big ideas and they can only get so far before realizing that to play with the big fish, you need actuaries to help you as the big competitors have big teams of actuaries. So we are the new start-ups’ team of actuaries helping them enter the Insurance or Banking market. We also have a new client which is asking us about pricing a cryptocurrency, so as you can see, using actuarial techniques to answer real world financial calculations is like accountancy on steroids. To simplify it: Actuaries use software like Excel to create financial models to calculate all sorts of things in the sectors I mentioned earlier. Actuaries design products, price products or make sure a company has enough money to manage its risk profile. Actuaries also deal with regulators a lot. Being an actuary is one of the most interesting jobs around. It’s also one of the most difficult to do as the mathematics is not easy so if you’ve got a love for maths and science, possibly you might be an actuary in the making. We are also very lucky that the Actuarial Society of South Africa has done such a solid job of making our actuaries so highly respected globally as now while we are looking to take on overseas clients, they find our actuaries to be extremely efficient and intelligent, which makes my job slightly easier.
CTG: How did you come up with the idea
Adi: I spent 10 years working as a recruiter of actuaries and while kitesurfing in a really strong South Easter it dawned on me that we should open our own actuary consulting business and do things in a more new age way. By using technology to be more efficient than the traditional consulting companies and to ensure that we provide quality actuarial services at a price which our competitors will find it hard to match. We don’t have big fancy expensive offices so we compete and can be more agile than the older companies.
CTG: What has been your favourite aspect about Virtual Actuary
Adi: Definitely knowing that our clients are getting reduced fees and that our actuaries are making more money. Because the actuaries take a majority of the money which comes in, their take home is higher than anywhere else. I also really like the fact that our actuaries can work from home on many of the assignments which allow them to spend way more time with their families. This is very important to us. In fact I have seen many studies which show that those who work from home are way more productive.
CTG: It is clear you have shaken up the industry. Would others be able to copy your business model?
Adi: I believe strongly that style and execution is the magic that makes any business. We have our style and you can’t just copy that. Our vision of actuaries consulting from home in Virtual Reality is a vision which if you think that’s where it will end, you have already lost track of where we are taking the business. We will go way beyond that as we develop our actuaries to interact with more efficient Machine Learning software than anything which is currently available. We are already in production and almost ready to go to market with our actuarial insurtech product which does in 10 seconds what the biggest competitor does in 3.5 hours. Imagine sitting in an exco meeting and being able to make strategic decisions there and then for multiple scenarios. Game changing. But having said all that, another company can try and open a similar business. As soon as an Asian insurer needs 10 actuaries for the next 2 years, they will struggle to find the actuaries to fulfill the assignment. My 10 years of recruiting actuaries enables the whole business to scale very quickly. I’ve been assisting many of the companies in the industry to scale their teams for the last few years. Now I can assist our own actuaries to scale up their teams as we start to make our way servicing the overseas market. It’s not a simple task to scale a consultancy to 350 actuaries and more. I think over the next few years, we will get to much bigger numbers. Or we won’t and we’ll use the software to rather let 100 actuaries do way more using machine learning. We’ll see how it plays out.
CTG: Where do you see Virtual Actuary 10 years from now?
Adi: I think that just the same as we all spend a significant amount of our time interacting with the Internet, we will all be spending way more time in a Virtual or Augmented Reality space. It’s a big world out there and Insurtech and Fintech service providers are servicing their clients in a really big way. Somebody has to be the Virtual Actuary support team to these businesses. Finding actuaries who are really good is not easy anywhere around the world. There is actually a shortage of actuaries globally which has been projected in the next 10 years or so. So our aim will be to tap into this shortage need and use more sophisticated faster and more efficient software than is currently available and work within this market in a way which is seamless and practical. The same as when you want to buy something you pull out your credit card, punch in your numbers and bam, it just goes through. The same will be for actuarial services available on tap to a worldwide market. A go to place for actuaries on a world wide scale. If you haven’t done much reading up about actuaries, do yourself a favour and look into what it takes to be an actuary. It’s really the future of business for many industries. Can you see our vision!
Written by The Cape Town Guy