'You need your colleagues around you to achieve a good outcome'

Thomas de Boer -​​​​​​​

Risk is enabling the business

‘‘I’m a down-to-earth guy from Groningen. That image suits the job of an actuary quite well: a serious profession with a solid image. Being an actuary embraces actuarial and risk management issues. About four years ago, I started here as a financial risk manager, where the emphasis is on controls and modelling. My job involved assessing whether pricing documents were complete and whether premiums could have been modelled differently or better.’

‘Risk management is responsible work because issuing the wrong premium is creates a risk. If premiums are too high, customers turn to the competition. If premiums are too low, it costs us too much money or the premiums aren’t enough to cover any claims. You also need to take account of legislation and regulations, such as the European directive on solvency. This regulatory framework for insurers is there to ensure that insurance companies have sufficient capital to avoid bankruptcy. Essentially, we are constantly asking ourselves whether we’re prepared to recognise, accept and manage risks and help to answer those questions. You could say that risk is what enables the business.’

With your feet firmly on the ground​​

‘NN offers a wide range of work for risk managers or actuaries. You can quickly move to another business unit and that’s exactly what I did. I now work as an actuary at Movir, NN’s occupational disability insurer. It’s a job where you need to have your feet firmly on the ground. Some of it involves calculations, but there’s also a lot of discussion with all stakeholders to manage risks and to arrive at the correct premium. Recently, Reaal Schadeverzekeringen and NN joined forces. We’re now working hard on a joint occupational disability proposition for new customers that combines the best of both worlds. We’re considering the new product conditions, the risks and the impact on pricing.'

'In our financial provisions, we have to take coronavirus into account. For example, if someone falls ill with the coronavirus, does he or she have the same rehabilitation expectations as with other cases of illnesses?? The virus may also have an impact on the premium in the long term.’

Last day at the office….?

‘Our office is closed in principle, so I’m working from home. I miss contacts with my colleagues a bit. In early March, my wife rang me at the office to say that our second child was about to be born. I said goodbye to my colleagues without knowing that the coronavirus would strike shortly afterwards. That day turned out to be my last day at the office for the time being.’

‘A new baby and a child that can’t go to nursery because of the coronavirus meant an incredibly busy household for us. My wife is a GP, a vital job. I was very pleased that she was on maternity leave in the first few weeks of the crisis. Fortunately, I also had four weeks’ paternity leave.’

'As serious as I am as an actuary, at the same time it’s also really important for me to have my colleagues around. To be there for each another, to have a chat. About football, about the Dutch TV show ‘The Famer Wants A Wife’. That’s something you can, and should, do here. Because you can’t spend all day behind your laptop modelling risks. You need social skills to create something great together in an informal atmosphere. I’ve always experienced that openness and freedom at NN.’