Lifestyle Article - Lights Camera Actuary Spotlight on Neil Bruce


Zoe Bolton, founder of Bolton Associates will be speaking to the actuaries who have been appointed Partners at the actuarial and broader consulting firms; these senior actuaries are respected industry-wide, and are networked into the insurance market at the highest level. We hope to get a brief insight into their career paths and visions for the future. This month Zoe talks to Neil Bruce, Senior Director, Willis Towers Watson.

 What is your current role, and how did you end up in it?
 Senior Director in the Insurance Consulting and Technology business at Willis Towers Watson, leading the Finance and Actuarial transformation work, including IFRS 17.

 What is the defining moment of your career to date?
 Oddly, not really the big and previously unimaginable losses that have come into the market. More
 when carrying out work relating to a court case surrounding potential poor reserving that led to an
 insolvency. This made me really think hard about what good reserving was and how bad reserving
 happens.

 In your opinion, what prepared you best to take on your current role?
 I was the founding Chair of the TORP working party. My focus over the last few years had been
 around process efficiency and redesign, including our working party getting the Brian Hey prize. Moving to Willis Towers Watson has really allowed me to focus on helping more companies with these tricky problems than would be possible as an in-house Chief Actuary.

 What is the biggest challenge you face in your role within this market?
 Convincing clients that automation will make a sufficiently material difference to their lives to invest.
 Many people assume the impact isn’t going to be that big, but it is very rare for a single person to be
 in a position that allows them to see all the manual work within the reserving/reporting process, which then makes it harder to see all the potential benefits. Team discussions give a much more complete picture, and as an additional benefit improve morale significantly.

 How does your actuarial training and background assist in your day-to-day role now?
 I still love reserving! Keeping to the fundamentals is essential when reviewing reserves or understanding a portfolio. It will enable you to quickly understand where there are issues or inconsistencies, even if finding solutions can take longer.

 When did you first join the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries, and what advice would you give to those students looking to emulate your career path?
 I joined in 1997, before even ICAs, let alone Solvency II, although my first big job was helping to
 code up a capital model! My advice would be to get through the exams as fast as possible, but make sure there is downtime too.

 If you had your time again, what would you do, career-wise?
 Well some people might say a dancer, but I started out as an academic, and research and innovation
 still holds a soft spot for me, so perhaps back to modelling quantum physics.

 Please share your favourite piece of trivia with our readers!
 It would take 8 mins and 20 sec for us to know that the sun had exploded! And did you know that black holes evaporate?
  

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