We met at a client site in The Hague to speak with two Milliman employees, who took some time out of their busy schedules to tell us about themselves and their job. Usually these consultants can be found at their clients, instead of in their office in Amsterdam.
Lotte van Delft studied Actuarial Science in Amsterdam. After that she started as a consultant at Ernst & Young actuaries and later went on to Delta Lloyd. After a couple of years she joined Milliman and worked there for almost five years as a Consulting Actuary before moving to a.s.r., where she worked as CFRO of the product line disability. Eventually she started missing her profession and the dynamics of consultancy, and in September 2015 went back to work for Milliman.
Sjors Altemühl graduated two years ago. He obtained two bachelors in Groningen, Econometrics & Operations Research and Physics, and did his master in Applied Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. After this he worked as an intern at a private equity firm and strategy consultant, before joining Milliman 1.5 years ago.
Could you explain to our readers what Milliman does as a company and what the company is like?
We both work for the Dutch Insurance & Financial Risk office of Milliman. We mostly focus on advising insurance companies and banks, but we also do work for very different organisations like energy suppliers, large corporates or governmental institutions. Insurance companies are our core business but definitely not our only clients. After all, risk management is much broader than this and the skills we have as actuaries and econometricians are useful in many more situations.
We do a lot of work which is Solvency II related – the new European risk-based regulatory framework for insurance companies, in place since 1 January 2016. We see many insurers that run into problems or discover the impact Solvency II can have. As a result we do a lot of advising on these matters.
If you link our work to the different masters you can choose in Rotterdam, then Quantitative Finance would come closest to what we do. Creating financial models, often related to Solvency II, is our core business. We use a lot of econometric and quantitative finance models, so I would definitely say we encounter a lot of the theory from our studies. Next to this, we also do work that relates to Quantitative Marketing and Business Analytics. For insurance companies data analysis is very important, so we definitely have possibilities for people wanting to go into that direction as well.
But what really characterizes Milliman is the focus on entrepreneurship and personal responsibility. Taking initiative is greatly appreciated and actually required to be successful. With us you are in control of your own agenda and the projects you want to work on, but we also expect a high level of independence and professionalism. If you want to do something we will give you the opportunity, but ultimately it’s up to you to go after it and try to make it happen.
As a consultant you travel a lot to work at location with your clients. What does your average work week look like?
That really depends on the kind of projects you do and how many different projects you’re working on, but I’d say that on average we work on two projects simultaneously. Furthermore it’s very common to follow a post-master next to your job, especially for juniors. So in an average week I would spend three days at client sites, one day at the office working for clients or on proposals or recruitment, and the last day studying.
The length of our assignments varies a lot depending on the type of project. We have ongoing projects where we support companies for years, but we also do a lot of relatively short assignments that only last a couple of weeks or months. With Milliman you have a say in what you want to work on. If you want to work on short, dynamic projects we will try to make this happen for you. Similarly if you prefer to specialize in a specific topic or build a strong relationship with a client, that is also possible.
How much of an international company is Milliman?
Milliman is a true global company. We have 3000 consultants and 50 offices in all parts of the world. In Europe, Milliman has been growing rapidly over the last couple of decades. Our office in Amsterdam is 11 years old, and we have 50 consultants who not only work in Amsterdam, but also in Brussels and Luxembourg.
Each year our entire office participates in the European Consultants Forum (ECF), where all our European offices come together to give presentations and discuss the most relevant topics for European insurers. This year the ECF will be in Rome, two weeks before the Econometric Career Day.
What do you look for in students?
Of course, you need to be passionate about econometrics and financial math. The work we do is very analytical so you need to enjoy that. But next to this, being independent and proactive is key. You should be the type of person that goes after their own assignments and projects, not the person who waits until they get them. Furthermore, flexibility and professionalism is important. You are in control of your own agenda but also responsible for the project you take on, and when it’s important you need to be able to be there. We work with clients and we need to make true on our promises.
What do you advise students to do during their studies?
Focus on your studies and learn a lot. Next to this join committees, do a board year, start your own company, do anything to broaden your scope. You could also do an internship or work for a company. We have some students working for us and it’s a great way to see how econometric theory is applied in practice, and what possibilities there are in the industry.
If you want to do something we will give you the opportunity, but ultimately it’s up to you to go after it and try to make it happen
Students can do an internship here at Milliman or work with us on their thesis. You do have to come up with your own ideas though if you want to write your thesis here. We believe you are more motivated when you are researching something you came up with yourself, compared to when we ask you to figure out something.
Lastly, do not forget to enjoy your time at university! Work hard, but have fun too. You’ll be working for a long time afterwards, so make sure to enjoy being a student.
Milliman will also be present at the Econometric Career Days. Can you tell us something about what kind of case you will have prepared for the students?
We are still busy working out the exact details, but I can tell you that it will involve an acquisition. A fictional life insurance company is in financial trouble and received criticism from the Dutch central bank. Another insurer is looking for opportunities to grow and has capital available for this. The case will involve the acquisition process of the two insurance companies and we will ask students to advise both companies and draw a conclusion on what a fair price is for the acquisition.Milliman will be one of our Premium Partners during the Econometric Career Days 2017. Meet them during their case on the 23rd of November. To stay up-to-date about the Econometric Career Days, like us on Facebook.