Actuaries Around the World: Ireland

paul-walshPaul Walsh is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland and a Fellow of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries in the UK. Prior to founding Acumen Resources he worked in both direct-writing and consulting actuarial environments over an extensive career. He now consults across all practice areas. He is also a keen proponent of promoting the actuarial skill-set to wider fields, particularly in Banking and Aviation. He is currently a member of a number of Society of Actuaries’ committees (Wider Fields and Banking & Aviation Finance). He also recently completed a law degree. Paul has overall responsibility for the Irish office and focuses on the ongoing development of Acumen Resources’ business as well as senior and executive appointments. 

How many practicing actuaries do you have?

At present we have over 1000 fully qualified fellow actuaries working in the island of Ireland.

What is the word for actuary in your local language?


When was actuarial science first introduced?

The Society of Actuaries in Ireland was established in 1972, when only 17 actuaries lived in Ireland.

What is your favorite part about being an actuary?

I enjoy working with and helping really great people. The actuarial profession is a very small niche profession with very intelligent and typically focused individuals. As an actuarial recruiter, I get a lot of satisfaction from helping actuaries transition into a new role and providing advice that can often make a big difference in the trajectory of their future actuarial career.

Do you have any advice for young people in your country interested in pursuing this career?

I would say one of the most important things is to learn to network. The recent Covid-19 crisis has shown us just how much we can do with technology and the same goes for efficient networking. It’s more important than ever to now build a wide network of trusted individuals to help connect you to the right people and to provide timely advice when required.

What are some of the highlights of the history of the actuarial profession in your country.

The actuarial profession has grown very rapidly in Ireland from its humble beginning of only 17 actuaries living in Ireland in 1972 when the Society of Actuaries in Ireland was established. Apparently, Ireland now has the highest number of actuaries per capita in the world!

What are some of the main challenges and projects for your association over the next 5-10 years?

The actuarial profession is going through a period of change. We have a deep history with strong roots, but we are being challenged to now adapt and change with the times. Some of the key challenges are to ensure that we remain relevant and continue to act as trusted advisors of risk and uncertainty to the many stakeholders we currently serve. I believe the Society of Actuaries in Ireland is embracing these challenges and helping actuaries within Ireland to move forward in the digital age.

What developments on the horizon could affect future opportunities in your country?

Digitisation and the emergence of data science is opening up new opportunities to actuaries in fields that actuaries may traditionally not have considered such as InsurTech, Banking and Aviation Finance.

Who are the main employers of actuaries? 

90% of Irish actuaries currently work in the insurance and pension industries. Thanks, in part, to the development of the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in the 1980s, in Dublin’s Docklands area, and Ireland’s low corporation tax rate, the financial services industry has grown hugely in Ireland over the years. Actuaries in Ireland are working across a wide range of consulting and (re)insurance companies.

What qualifications do you find most important for upcoming actuaries?

Most actuaries in Ireland aim for Fellowship via the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA). Increasingly we are witnessing actuaries embarking on self-learning via MOOCS etc. Especially in data science, programming and analytics.

Do the schools in your country have actuarial majors, minors, concentrations or do students study on their own or overseas?

Most new actuarial students in Ireland attempt to gain exemptions from some of their actuarial exams based on having covered, and been examined on, the equivalent actuarial exam material during their university degree programme. Many universities have accreditation IFoA in the UK whereby their university grade results may automatically mean they can claim actuarial exemptions. Some universities have actuarial science course that are fully accredited by the IFoA, meaning graduating students can achieve the full suite of earlier IFoA Core Principle exam exemptions and also possibly some later exam exemptions. The universities in Ireland offering actuarial degree programmes that are fully accredited by the IFoA include University College CorkUniversity College DublinDublin City University and Queen’s University Belfast.

What is the credentialing procedure like for an actuary in your country?

As discussed here, although we have our own professional body representing the actuarial profession in Ireland (The Society of Actuaries in Ireland) they are not an accrediting body. Hence, actuaries in Ireland enrol at the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in the UK and undertake exams through the IFoA’s credentialing.

Do employers support the cost and time of exam preparation?

Yes, most employers in Ireland are very supportive of students getting through their actuarial exams.

Are there any noteworthy non-traditional actuarial positions?

At Acumen Resources, we have recruited many actuaries into various roles, over the years. Some of these actuaries have been recruited into non-traditional roles. For example we have placed actuaries in aviation roles where they work for global aircraft leasing companies providing financial analytical support to senior management.

Do you have any non-actuarial hobbies?

All my hobbies are non-actuarial! Playing sports, reading and continually striving to ensure my children don’t get the better of me…..eventually though they will win!

What could people from outside of your country do to help the profession grow in Ireland?

Spread the word that Ireland is a great place for an actuary to relocate to!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I believe now is a very exciting time to be an actuary in Ireland.

If you are interested in working as an actuary in Ireland, I am happy to have a free fully confidential discussion to answer your questions. You can contact me here.