Discovering other cultures and countries ! 

Loving Africa faboulous stories from a young actuary having volunteered in West & East Africa, Queenie Chow, President of  Young Actuaries Advisory Board Australia 

Creating inclusive insurance for all by Queenie Chow and Renata De Leers , Actuaries Digital, Actuaries Institute Australia - February 2016

Un mois riche et intensif à Dakar ! by Mvono Euloge Pharel, étudiant MS2 en actuariat, IFAGE, Dakar, Senegal

Actuarial expertise making an impact on developing countries , interview Jean Berthon &  Renata De Leers, published by Canadian Institute of Actuaries

Volunteer activities in our target countries

Risk Management Framework Through ICPs and Solvency II Requirements: Baku, Azerbaijan by Carlos Arocha and Dilara Asadova
Society of Actuaries International News - March 2020

Actuary of the Future Section: Actuaries Without Borders Global Mentorship Program
Society of Actuaries Podcasts - January 23, 2019

Actuaries Without Borders Global Mentorship Program: A Growing Success Story
Society of Actuaries International News - September 2018 - Issue 75, Page 12-13

SOA/CAS Seminar in Bogota Gets Record-Breaking Attendance
Society of Actuaries International News - September 2018 - Issue 75, Page 37-38

Actuaries Without Borders: Get Involved with a Mission of Global Outreach
Society of Actuaries International News - May 2018 - Issue 74, Page 7-8

Actuaries Without Borders in Macedonia by Vladimir Bubalov
Society of Actuaries International News - May 2018 - Issue 74, Page 29

Actuarial Development in Bulgaria by Carlos Arocha
Society of Actuaries International News - January 2018 - Issue 73, Page 30-31

Actuarial Global Outreach across Borders
Canadian Institute of Actuaries - November 2017

An ERM Initiative in Nigeria by Actuaries Without Borders by Queenie Chow
Society of Actuaries International News - September 2017 - Issue 72, Page 14

Actuarial Development in Armenia by Carlos Arocha and Gayane Arsenian
Society of Actuaries International News - May 2017 - Issue 71, Page 16

Actuarial Association of Republic of Srpska by Predrag Kovacevic
Society of Actuaries International News - January 2016 - Issue No 67, Page 22

TOGO or not to go by Carlos Arocha and Renata de Leers
Society of Actuaries International News - January 2014 - Issue No 61, Page 7-9

Actuaries Without Borders—Making a Difference
The Actuary—February 2013

International Actuarial Experiences Webcast
Canadian Institute of Actuaries - October 2012

Interesting Overseas Opportunities Through Actuaries Without Borders
Canadian Institute of Actuaries eBulletin - September 2012

IAA Life Section and AWB Section Breakfast Session
Society of Actuaries Life & Annuity Symposium - May 2012

Interview with Shiraz Jetha of Actuaries Without Borders
Society of Actuaries International Section Newsletter - August 2010 (starting on page 28)

Presentation by Robert F. Conger at Bahrain June 2010
Actuaries Without Borders, International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS)

India Travelsby Robert F. Conger
The Actuarial Review - The Newsletter of the Casualty Actuarial Society - May 2010 - Vol. 32, No. 2

Global Positioning Expand Your Actuarial Horizons by Shiraz Jetha
Contingencies - March/April 2009

In and Out of Kazakhstan in Four Days in February by Shiraz Jetha
International Section Newsletter - December 2008 - Issue No. 46, Page 16

Teaching ERM in Nairobi, Kenya by Shiraz Jetha
Actuary of the Future Newsletter - November 2008 - Issue No. 25, Page 21

Actuary of the Future Section Hot Breakfast: Actuaries Without Frontiers by authors Fazli M. Datoo, FSA, MAAA and Shiraz Jetha, FSA, FCIA, MAAA
SOA 08 Annual Meeting & Exhibit - October 19-22, 2008 - Session 9

Pushing the Boundaries: Actuaries without Frontiers by Pritesh Modi
Actuary of the Future Newsletter - May 2008 - Issue No. 24, Page 1

Actuaries without Frontiers by Fred Rowley, Immediate Past President, Institute of Actuaries of Australia
Canadian Institute of Actuaries Bulletin - April 2008 - Volume 18, Number 8, Page 5

French Actuaries in India by Clement Picard and Nicolas Cadiou, Actuarial Science Students, EURIA, France
the Actuary India, February 2003


Tech, inclusive insurance, and actuaries – a potent combination, or a squeezing out?

Published in ‘International News’ SoA International Section, October 2019

Author: Queenie Chow, President of Young Actuaries Advisory Board, Augstralia


Low-income people face numerous challenges in accessing appropriate financial products. In overcoming these challenges, a growing number of innovations and technologies have emerged in the arena of microinsurance. There is a growing discussion highlighting the evolving intersections of the actuarial profession with technological innovation around microinsurance. The Society of Actuaries (SOA) commissioned the MicroInsurance Centre at Milliman to develop a literature review on emerging technologies that interact with the actuarial profession within the space of microinsurance. As an extensive literature review assembled with key-person interviews, this research intends to spark readers’ interest in, and create a vision for, how microinsurance and its associated technologies may impact the actuarial industry in the future. This research gives an overview of the technology, a description of how the technology impacts the specific aspect of the microinsurance process, and possible implications and applications for actuaries as a result of the technology.

Concrete examples of disruptive technologies being applied in the inclusive insurance space around the world is split into four key themes:

  • Rating - big data, machine learning, remote sensing technology, and pricing tools
  • Distribution - mobile networks, telemedicine, and digital marketing channels.
  • Claims adjustment - claims administrative systems, smartphone applications, satellite technology, machine learning, data mining, internet of things (IoT), and Blockchain
  • Payment facilitation - mobile money, airtime and others

Through this research, the authors explore the role of actuaries in microinsurance within the new world of cutting-edge technologies. Some actuaries argue that microinsurance has typically been simple and short term in nature—namely credit life and hospital-cash products. Thus, as long-term risk managers, actuaries have a limited or even no role to play.[1] On the flipside, practitioners like Veronique Faber (former Executive Director of the Microinsurance Network) believe that “most microinsurance services are developed without proper actuarial experience...Actuaries, who deal with business risk, are the pillar of insurance companies worldwide.[2] Nigel Bowman, chair of the IAA’s Microinsurance Working Group, argues that the key to the role of actuaries in microinsurance lies in the word “proportionality.” That is, the level of actuarial skills required depends on the level of risk inherent on the insurance product offered, as well as the extent to which product providers can manage potential risks.[3]

With tremendous advancements in technology, particularly with machine learning, the future role of actuaries has often been questioned. Is the actuarial profession becoming obsolete in the wake of technological innovations? The role of actuaries in microinsurance is no exception. Undoubtedly, the work of actuaries will be advanced or made more efficient with technologies like machine learning or predictive analysis. However, actuaries bring greater value than acting as a simple “calculator.” While the profession is often perceived to offer technical skills, it is the blend of high technical capabilities, ethics and integrity, effective communications, and qualitative judgment that makes this profession valuable. At the same time, actuaries must embrace—intervene and interface with—technologies in order to stay relevant in this changing world. As technology grants access to quality data, actuaries can help with developing models that translate the data to actually inform business decisions. Experience has further shown that even with technology, a customer-centric approach is important in combination with methodologies that are actuarially-sound. As new products and new environments continue to emerge—inclusive of the microinsurance industry developing alongside innovative technologies—actuaries must continue to evolve in their ability to serve all aspects of the insurance market.

Queenie Chow, President of Young Actuaries Advisory Board, Augstralia


[1] Garand, Denis. Email interview. 4 April 2019.

[2] Blacker J. & Yang M. “Actuaries In Microinsurance Managing Risk for the Underserved.“ ACTEX. (2015.) Introduction.

[3] Bowman, N. “The Role of Actuaries In Inclusive Insurance.” Inclusivity Solutions.

Actuary = risk averse ?

Published in ‘International News’ SoA International Section, January 2018

Author: Queenie Chow, President of Young Actuaries Advisory Board, Australia


Actuary = risk-adverse?

The stereotype of an actuary is often associated with adjectives like “conservative”, “risk-adverse” and “meticulous”. Indeed, most actuaries like to get things right and that means exactly right – quotation of numbers should be right down to the decimal point. Yet, this is certainly not all the talent that an actuary has to offer.

Recently, a colleague complained saying: “actuaries should never be in the room when we discuss about new innovative products, they just scare all our partners away with their risk analysis!” As an actuary working in micro-insurance innovations and product development in Kenya, my colleague still has a long way to go in learning about the actuarial profession.

Indeed, innovation often goes hand-in-hand with risk-taking. Whilst actuaries are the experts of risk management, this does not translate to a zero-risk tolerance. Allow me to use pricing in micro-insurance product as a case in point. One of the greatest challenges facing micro-insurance product development is the constraints of data availability on similar products. The lack of past experience can lead to high risk loading in pricing as a result of the great level of uncertainty. If the premium rates are set higher than actual experience due to conservative assumption setting, low take-up will likely result. Not only will the product be perceived as unaffordable, it is furthermore providing poor value for low-income households with limited financial means. The risk of anti-selection also emerges as over-priced product will likely attract individuals with higher risk profile. So, how can actuaries over-come this mis-match dilemma between premium affordability and data restrictions in pricing micro-insurance products?

All actuaries are trained on the well-known actuarial control cycle – specify, develop and monitor – which emphasizes on the importance of repeated feedback loop in product management. The use of pilot testing (i.e. a small, simple controlled experiment of the product) is most fundamental to product development whilst limiting risk exposure level. Moreover, it is precisely an application of the actuarial control cycle in solving real world business problems. Not only does a pilot put your product to test in its operations and market demand, it will also provide valuable insight and collection of data which can be used in pricing. It is only through continuous monitoring and revision that accurate pricing assumptions can be validated for scaled-up products. Whilst actuaries have much to offer in accurate calculations, the even greater value of an actuary lies in his/her judgment and decision of materiality during this iterative control cycle.

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk…in a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail Is not taking risks.” Mark Zuckerburg.

As actuaries – the natural leaders in risk – we are not opposed to taking risks, rather we strive to better manage risks in order for our stakeholders to succeed in an uncertain environment.

Earning trust from our micro-clients

Author: Queenie Chow, President of Young Actuaries Advisory Board, Australia

Earning trust from our micro-clients

“Where is your office located?” – is one of the most frequent questions we get from customers when selling micro-insurance through direct retail channels in Kenya. You may wonder, what does the physical location of our office has to do with the purchase of insurance? The real meaning behind this question is: if you don’t pay a claim, where can I physically hunt you down for my payment? Selling insurance is not easy, especially in an emerging market. Earning and maintaining trust with customers undoubtedly continues to be one of the greatest challenge of the insurance industry.

As far as trust goes, insurance companies typically have a poor reputation. Global research indicates that consumers trust insurance companies less than banks, car manufacturers, online shopping sites and supermarkets. With its complex rules, complicated product design, fine print, lengthy processes and even non-payment of claims, it’s little wonder why customers distrust insurance. In the micro-sector, the lack of understanding of insurance further deteriorate its perception. The low-income segment are unsure about paying in advance for a service that they may or may not receive in the future from an institution that they do not know, at worst, do not even trust. So how can insurance companies be creative, innovative and revolutionize customers’ experience in overcoming these challenges?

A free trial is generally recognised to be establishing good will and trust with new customers, why not with insurance? The freemium and loyalty insurance products distributed via a mobile network operator (MNO) is one solution which has emerged to address the distrust challenge. Under such business model, the Telco pre-paid customers are awarded a free insurance benefit as a loyalty benefit based on the amount of airtime they purchase. That is, the more airtime customer top-up, the greater the free insurance coverage they will earn. After the trial period, customers will be also be sold on paid insurance products. In turn, MNOs can create brand loyalty and retain customers in an increasingly cut-throat markets. In some instances, MNOs can also earn an additional revenue stream through a profit-sharing model.

Indeed, in leveraging the established brand name, network of distribution points and large client base of an MNO, insurance company can build trust through such partnerships. Moreover, there is a strong correlation between the frequency of transactions and levels of trusts. Some research shows that greater than 45 million lives has been insured globally through a MNO partnership model in the emerging market. In some markets, as high as 85% of the customers are new to insurance and are unfamiliar with how traditional insurance works. In my recent work of managing direct consumer insurance products, it is further found that successful freemium products prepares the market for paid voluntary insurance products. Of course, no one business model is without its weakness. The success of partnership is highly driven by the marketing and customer education efforts made by the MNO giving little control to insurers. More importantly, the customer value and variation of insurance products offered through the MNO models have often been questioned.

Whilst the freemium MNO distribution model enables a minimal trust level with customers, ultimately trust with customers are built on paying claims. The action of paying claims certainly speaks louder than any words, but the pattern of paying claims is what earns the full trust of customers. With a consistent pattern of paying claims, customers will no longer doubt insurance companies in looking for its physical location!