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Local start-up promises actuaries on demand

Tech-driven business promises low fees and more pay for actuaries.
Virtual Actuary's core principles include efficiency and tight cost-management. Picture: Shutterstock

From on-demand ride hailing to meals on wheels platforms, consumer convenience has driven advances in technology and its applications. Similarly, local start-up Virtual Actuary is providing big business with on-demand risk management and planning expertise.

Launched by Adi Kaimowitz in November 2017, Virtual Actuary uses technology to bring together a network of unrelated professionals to collaborate on projects. It is also taking the fight for work to the Big 4 actuarial consultancies, he said.

He said the business’ focus on efficiency and resultant cost savings, which flow through to clients even as the business remains the start-up phase, sets it apart from the traditional actuarial consulting business model. “At our absolute core we have two principles: we want to be more efficient and we want to keep our costs low”. This is achieved by making use of video conference facilities to allow actuaries to interact with clients the world over at minimal cost while maximising their time. The fact that it does not have “massive offices” and its actuaries can work remotely also result in low operational costs.   

Despite charging its clients lower fees, Kaimowitz said Virtual Actuary’s actuarial staff earn over 80% of the fees. “We’ve turned the earnings table upside down in that the company Virtual Actuary only takes a small percentage of whatever the client pays… We want our actuaries to make more money than the company. In five years’ time, when we look back, we want our actuaries to have built and three story house and the company to be doing okay rather than the company building a 20 story office and the actuaries being unhappy and not wanting to be here anymore”.

He said that it is fair for Virtual Actuary’s actuaries to earn more than the company as “they are the ones doing all the work”. “This is what an organised collaborative is. The actuaries that form part of Virtual Actuary don’t operate in an employer-employee type environment, it is not that kind of business. We are a sharing business, where the actuaries share in the profit of the business, not from a bonus perspective but rather from an earnings perspective right at the beginning”.    

The profit-sharing model allows its actuaries to work on less, earn more and avoid burnout, and it allows the Virtual Actuary to attract top talent with wealth of experience, he said.

In fact, Kaimowitz describes Virtual Actuary as the culmination of his experience of 10 years in recruiting actuaries. Seeing how online platforms such as Linkedin render traditional recruitment practices obsolete and the growing need for professionals in fintech and insurtech also prompted him to form the collaborative.

Virtual Actuary’s seven teams mainly service the South African market. It is currently exploring franchise opportunities with ex-South African actuaries based in Australia and the United States while its 10-year plan would also see it expand into key Asian markets. That South African actuaries are held in high-regard overseas and known to have a strong worth ethic coupled with the business’ focus on efficiency and a weak rand allow it to present a compelling business model abroad, he said.

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