About Andrew Howe

This page is about what I like doing, and my current and previous roles. It was written partly as a pointer for recruitment consultants – especially the section on Risk Management and Solvency 2. My interests are explained, and these rule me out from most roles offered without wasted time and effort.

[1] An unusual actuary

Confession time: I don't hugely enjoy mainstream actuarial work. At best I have no competitive advantage. However, for things I enjoy and believe I'm good at read on.

Risk management and solvency 2

This part is mainly for recruitment consultants especially those searching for "risk management" or "solvency 2" on LinkedIn. I don't want to waste your time, or mine.
  • I spend most of my time on risk management related work. I have unconventional views on the value-add of risk management, to be expressed elsewhere.
  • I am very interested in Pillar 2 (governance, risk management, ORSA etc), not focused on Pillar 1 (whether standard formula or internal model) and not even slightly interested in Pillar 3 (public disclosure aka reporting).
  • I do risk and proposition development, not solvency 2.

[2] My work interests

  1. I love commercially-focused strategic work.
  2. I enjoy building: teams, propositions, risk management systems, websites etc.
  3. I'm happy to tackle "knotty problems" whether strategic or technical.

Things I'm relatively weak at include (e.g.) doing pricing or other projection-related work. These points rule me out of many roles. Great news for me and recruiters!

[2.1] Strategic involvement

I'm interested in what works in other industries. External approaches have often not filtered through to the insular insurance industry, contributing to a general lack of pricing power. Actuaries have not always helped.

My biggest areas of strategic involvement have probably been:
  • Swiss Life: where I played a significant role in growing the business and eliminating an expense overrun.
  • Munich Re: at a time of intense price competition we developed alternatives:
    • "Think like an insurer" with a focus on modelling life offices' profitability.
    • Risk analytics: including distributor modelling (take up, lapses, commission effects) and underwriting (a "5 stages of underwriting" model).

Interestingly neither of these completely fulfilled their promise. Following problems at the parent, Swiss Life UK closed to new business. While Munich Re UK Life Branch continued developing its Risk Analytics proposition and bought allfinanz in 2007 they have recently reorganised, as intense price competition in the UK life reinsurance market continues.

[2.2] I build things – alone or in teams

I like building things, inside and/or outside paid employment. It's what I'm most interested in. I've built teams, propositions, products and websites. I've brought a "building" mentality to my current risk management role, as well as oversight. And being an actuary, I've built spreadsheets.

I can work alone, but prefer working in teams – ideally leading a small team. Teams are like good leverage; returns are geared up, but risk is reduced too. Plus you meet interesting people and learn from each other.

[2.3] Focused knotty problems

My favourite problems are where a commercial benefit is acknowledged and the existing approach isn't working: "we need to secure our spreadsheets." I also like the focused strategic problem: "we need to increase our customer retention." Actuaries often give up on knotty problems. I don't.

Examples of my work, alone or with teams:
  • New business development: Swiss Life went from selling Income Protection (with life and stand alone critical illness cover as a side line) to a full menu range. Volumes increased by c3000% and an expense overrun was eliminated. A great time.
  • New business process: We need to manage underwriting, take-up, cancellations and lapses in the new business process. I worked on this at L&G and Munich Re. Munich Re's Risk Analytics proposition
  • Data magic: A client had no new business process database, just 400,000 pdf files. A few days later my team produced a shiny new database, populated with the detailed contents of the 400,000 pdfs.
  • Speeding up and securing spreadsheets. I've taken a spreadsheet that took almost an hour to run and reduced this to 1 second. More than once. Actuaries tend to write slow spreadsheets, especially when they use VBA. And while the default use of spreadsheets is risky they can be made significantly more secure and robust. I recommend Professional Excel Development
  • The IOA website is too hard to use. I complained with no response. You're reading my response.

While these were technical achievements, the commercial/risk implications were greater.

[3] My current role

At Lucida I wear two hats. As Proposition Development Director I design and assist in the implementation of de-risking solutions for the pension market, including bulk buyouts/buyins, longevity insurance and hybrid structures. Since September 2009 I've also been Lucida's Director of Risk Management. I'm responsible for the efficient operation of Lucida’s risk management framework. I also have some limited Solvency 2 involvement: Pillar 2, ORSA etc.

[4] My previous experience

Immediately before Lucida I was Head of New Business Development at Munich Re My clients included many of the leading UK life offices. This role targeted the individual protection market, which is where I've built up most of my actuarial experience. I led a New Business Development team of seven, including some excellent actuaries. It became the Risk Analytics proposition Other roles are set out to the right.

People I've worked with and learned from:

Some of the people I've worked with have been outstanding, including those listed below. I've appreciated your knowledge, skill, humility and friendship. You have demonstrated what's best about working in teams.

Of course I've also admired people I've worked with in partners/competitors.

Ross Ainslie, Andy Milburn and Ben Mulleady are three highly recommended people.

Earlier still

In 2000/2001 I set up and ran a virtual life office with a colleague. I've also worked in reinsurance and at two leading protection insurers. Find out more on my LinkedIn profile

A simple footer, care of: www.myfia.co.ukConfidential