Issue No. 16 October - December 2013
Message from the PresidentIndustry Events
Industry NewsFeature Article
Q&A with Alex King

Message from the President

LIA PresidentSingapore life insurance industry performance for January to September 2013

On the back of three quarters of growth, the life insurance sector posted strong results for the first nine months of 2013, hitting $2 billion in weighted new business premiums, a 27 per cent increase over the same period last year. Growth came through healthy sales across all product lines.

Annual premium products were particularly strong, totaling $1.5 billion of sales for the first three quarters of 2013, up by 31 per cent over 2012. 

Single premium business grew by 17 per cent to $0.5 billion of weighted single premiums. Of this amount, 16 per cent comprised CPF-funded sales.

Our industry is delivering more innovative and tailored solutions to cater to diverse consumer segments. Higher education and increasing financial literacy drive the demand for more customised solutions among Singaporeans. At the same time, there are people who continue to lack or have inadequate basic coverage, and we should press on to service them, if the protection gap is to be narrowed.

New health insurance premiums shot up by 132 per cent in the first nine months to $320 million compared to the same period last year. Ninety-four per cent went to Integrated Shield Plans and riders. Sharp increases in new premiums continued as more Integrated Shield Plans on reaching their policy anniversary dates were renewed at higher prices.

As at 30 September 2013, 2.66 million lives were covered with paid up premiums of $1.3 billion.

Explanatory notes

  • Weighted new business premium is calculated as 10% SPI + 100% API with adjustment for premium payment terms of less than 10 years
  • Participating insurers enhanced the benefits of their Integrated Shield Plans in response to improved coverage provided by the national Medishield scheme, which took effect on 1 March 2013.

Recommendations of the Financial Advisory Industry Review (FAIR) Panel, MAS Consultation Paper, and MAS Response

Twenty-eight Recommendations by the Panel were made public in January 2013.

MAS issued a Consultation Paper on proposed requirements based on the Recommendations that were supported by the regulator. LIA provided comprehensive views and inputs on behalf of member companies.

MAS issued its Response to feedback received on 30 September 2013.
Major Initiatives
Three major initiatives impact the life industry and retail market segment:

  • Web Aggregator (WA)
  • Basic Insurance Products (BIPs) and Direct Distribution Channel
  • Balanced Scorecard (BSC) Framework

The consumer portal will be a one-stop product information centre, containing information on life insurance products available in Singapore.

BIPs and Direct Distribution Channel
Insurers will offer industry-standardised "Basic Insurance Products", which may be sold online, as well as over-the-counter. All are sold without advice, i.e. it also introduces a new "direct" distribution channel. Intended for self-directed consumers who wish to save on sales charges, the expectation is that more people will acquire minimum life insurance protection through this no frills avenue.
BSC Framework
The Key Performance Indicators under this framework are designed to drive life insurance representatives to consistently deliver quality solutions for customers. Failure to meet the KPIs for any particular sale may result in the individual representative being penalised financially.

Industry's Focus
The Association and its members are collaborating with MAS to rollout the FAIR initiatives such that desirable outcomes are achieved, as follows:

a) Improved quality of advice provided by FA representatives;
b) Continued access to financial advisory for consumers, without which their protection and long-term savings needs may not be taken care of;
c) Enhanced key product information and transparency, without which informed choices by consumers are not likely to take place.

2014 and 2015 will be a very busy season for life insurers as we undergo change and transformation from one level to the next level of progress.
Meanwhile, I wish all our industry colleagues, partners and friends a wonderful time of festive celebrations with loved ones.

Khoo Kah Siang

Industry Events

Life Insurance Week
14 - 20 October 2013
Life insurance faces an industry-wide challenge where there is a limited understanding by the general public about the real need to stay financially protected and the support the industry provides for the community.

Life Insurance Week - Advertisement

To combat this, The Life Insurance Association launched the inaugural edition of Life Insurance Week in October this year. Aimed at encouraging Singaporeans to take a more proactive role in planning for their long-term financial health as well as their well-being, Life Insurance Week kicked-off with a series of free health screenings for the public, paid media placements across print and online mediums and industry-wide fundraising pledges. The Singapore Heart Foundation was the choice charity for the Life Insurance Association given its synergy with The Flying Dutchman campaign. Proceeds will support the establishment of its new heart wellness centre, targeted to launch in early 2014.

Life Insurance Week - Wristbands

Behind the scenes, member companies also played their part in championing the initiative. Customised wristbands with the slogans "Life's Worth Protecting" and "Life's Worth Investing In" were handed out by agents to clients, while explaining its significance to the Life Insurance Week.

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The Life Insurance Week marks another major consumer education initiative in the industry's ongoing bid to engage and inspire consumers to realise the importance and value of staying financially protected and narrowing the protection gap. Public participation exceeded expectations. The free health screenings attracted a healthy crowd and quizzes that ran on popular lifestyle portal gathered enthusiastic response. The initiative was instrumental in generating positive awareness and visibility for the industry to demonstrate how it has heart for the community.

As the year comes to a close, it is heartening that consumer confidence levels in life insurance solutions has been on the rise and we look forward to breaking new benchmarks in the evolution of the life insurance industry.

Commemorating 10th Anniversary of MoneySENSE
19 - 20 October 2013, HDB Hub Singapore

"Money & U Roadshow"

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which spearheads the national financial literacy and consumer education initiative branded as MoneySENSE, held a roadshow over the weekend of 19 and 20 October to mark 10 years of its existence and accomplishments.

The high energy performances, interesting interactive games and quizzes were well received. The Singapore roadshow or public seminar classic - Must-Have-Goodie-Bags - were flying out of their boxes!

The partner associations including the LIA Singapore, and government agencies such as Central Provident Fund Board and Housing & Development Board, were all invited to participate and each were allocated a booth to display information and station representatives/staff to interact with the crowd.

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For the LIA booth, staff from member companies were rostered for duty!

LIA Brochure

LIA produced a consumer brochure in English and Chinese for the event. For hardcopies (only), please contact LIA at

Great Eastern Life wins "Life Insurance Company of the Year" Award
17th Asia Insurance Industry Awards 2013
6 November 2013, Marina Bay Sands Singapore

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Great Eastern Life won the 2013 Award for excellence in customer service, constant evolution to meet customers' needs, new level of customer engagement with its Live Great Programme and active promotion of community health and wellness.

Chris Wei, Group CEO, Great Eastern Holdings thanked the judges from Asia Insurance Review for the milestone recognition as well as Great Eastern customers for inspiring the company to go the extra mile: "We are honoured to be named Life Insurance Company of the Year. At Great Eastern, we embrace a simple yet powerful corporate purpose - to not just be a life insurance company, but to be a LIFE company. We have made it our purpose to help our customers to live longer, healthier and better, and over the last two years we have been building our Live Great programme, which has gained tremendous traction across our major markets of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. This award is a strong affirmation and validation of our multi-faceted customer engagement strategy across the region."

Chris also thanked Great Eastern's employees and distribution partners for delivering on the company's brand promise to help its customers achieve their financial and protection goals as well as their wellness aspirations: "The 'Life Insurance Company of the Year Award' caps off a momentous year of accolades and recognition for the Great Eastern Group. We will not rest on our laurels. This award will only serve to spur us to work harder to improve upon what we have been doing and to blaze new trails of excellence. Our focus will continue to remain resolutely on delivering the Great Eastern promise to our customers to be there for them when they need us most, each time and every time."

First Anniversary of Standard Life in Singapore
20 November 2013, ION Sky Singapore

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Standard Life - Photo2

Standard Life recently celebrated its first anniversary in Singapore, commemorating a successful first twelve months of operations after receiving its life insurance license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore last October. Over the past year, Standard Life has grown to a 14-strong team and the initial suite of investment-linked products launched in January has received robust interest from the market, leading to a promising start in new business for Standard Life in its first year. Speaking at the Company's one year anniversary event held at the top of ION Orchard, ION Sky, Neal Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer and Principal Officer of Standard Life, noted these achievements and thanked business supporters and his staff for their continued commitment and hard work. The event was well attended by representatives from across the industry highlighting the tremendous support Standard Life has received over the past year from the IFA community in Singapore. Neal noted that the relationships built over the past year have provided Standard Life with a great foundation in its first year. Standard Life will be looking to build upon its international heritage and leverage upon the expertise and experience from Standard Life Group further in its second year, building the Singapore team to provide quality support to IFAs and customers and enhancing its product offerings to meet evolving customer needs as well as developing its distribution network to potentially include banks and private banks.

AIA 2013 Asia Bancassurance Conference
25 November 2013, St Regis Hotel Singapore

AIA held its inaugural AIA Asia Bancassurance Conference at St Regis, Singapore, on 25 November. The event was held exclusively for senior executives from a number of banks across the region as well as AIA's existing bancassurance relationships. This acted as a platform, providing our business partners and AIA to exchange and develop  fresh insights, so that we can further enhance our existing and new partnerships and move towards greater heights together, in 2014 and beyond.

Mr Mark Tucker
Mr Mark Tucker, Group Chief Executive and President, AIA

The Conference started with a very warm welcome from AIA Group Chief Executive and President, Mr Mark Tucker who emphasised and presented on AIA's belief in the power of relationships and the importance to AIA of diversifying insurance distribution channels through Partnerships and in particular bancassurance.

Mr Ilian Mihov Ms Chew Seow Chien
 Mr Ilian Mihov, Dean and Professor of Economics, INSEAD  Ms Chew Seow Chien, Partner, Bain & Company
Mr Hugh Terry Mr Caspar Berry
 Mr Hugh Terry, Editor of the Digital Insurer Mr Caspar Berry, Motivational Speaker, Professional Poker Player and Entrepreneur

The conference continued with a special line-up of eminent speakers from experts to individuals with unique insights.

  • Mr Ilian Mihov, INSEAD Dean and Professor of Economics: Macro-economic Trends in Asia and its Impact on Banking and Insurance Industry.
  • Ms Chew Seow Chien, Partner from Bain & Company: Consumer Trends in Asian Retail Banking.
  • Mr Hugh Terry, Editor of the Digital Insurer: Digital Bancassurance - How Tablets are Transforming the Way Insurance is Perceived and Sold.
  • Mr Caspar Berry, Motivational Speaker, Professional Poker Player and Entrepreneur: Risk Taking and Decision Making - Impacting Your Role as a Leader
Panel Discussion
From left: Ms Ali Moore, Dr Narongchai Akrasanee, Mr John Cryan, Mr Gordon Watson & Mr Simon Long

The Conference ended with a panel discussion on Preparing for the Future of Bancassurance with panel guests, Dr. Narongchai Akrasanee, Member of the Bank of Thailand Monetary Policy Committee and Former Minister of Commerce of Thailand, Mr John Cryan, President of Temasek Holdings, Europe, Mr Simon Long, Columnist of Economist's Asia and Mr Gordon Watson, AIA Regional Chief Executive.

iPoS Booth Vitality_Booth
iPoS booth Vitality booth

There were also informative booths at the foyer for delegates to learn more on AIA iPoS, an award winning interactive point-of-sales system which is hosted on iPad and AIA Vitality, a transformational science-backed wellness program for AIA and bancassurance customers which rewards AIA Vitality members, when making real and positive changes to their lifestyle.


The day ended with a gala dinner for all delegates and a golf tournament followed on the next day.

We believe that the Conference gave our partners much better insights regarding the opportunities available in the bancassurance space and AIA's commitment to forging stronger partnerships with its business relationships.

LIA Networking Evening
26 November 2013, Over Easy, One Fullerton Singapore

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Our last happy hour gathering for 2013!

Industry News

Personal Data Protection Act
National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry
Pre-registration opens on 2 December 2013

The Personal Data Protection Commission ran trials prior to 2 December for businesses to test the DNC system and provide feedback especially on glitches to the authority.

Four insurers, representing the smaller to larger member companies of LIA, were selected to participate in the trials. They shared their experiences, insights and takeaways with the rest of the LIA members on 3 December 2013.

Copies of their slides presentations are circulated vide LIA Members' Circular No. 116 of 2013.
39th Meeting of the ASEAN Insurance Council (AIC)
16th Meeting of the ASEAN Insurance Regulators
4 - 6 December 2013, Da Nang, Vietnam

Logo1 Logo2  AIC Flags
ASEAN emblem AIC emblem  

The ASEAN emblem represents a stable, peaceful, united and dynamic ASEAN.

The colours - blue, red, white and yellow - represent the main colours of the crests of all the ASEAN member states. The blue represents peace and stability. Red depicts courage and dynamism. White shows purity and yellow symbolises prosperity.

The stalks of padi represent the dream of ASEAN’s Founding Fathers for an ASEAN comprising all the countries in Southeast Asia, bound together in friendship and solidarity.

The circle represents the unity of ASEAN.

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The ASEAN Insurance Council is the Non-Governmental Organisation for the insurance industries of the ASEAN member states. LIA Singapore is a founding member of the Council. AIC is gearing up for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which is targeted to take off in 2015.

A permanent secretariat office located in Jakarta was opened in September, followed by the appointment of a full-time Executive Director, Bern Dwyanto, in November this year.

The honorary AIC Secretary-General, Ms Evelina Pietruschka, has been instrumental in revitalising the 35 year old organisation, which was founded on 4 April 1978. She has been busy forming links with various other ASEAN groups including the Asia Pacific Financial Forum and ASEAN Business Advisory Council, with a view to gaining AIC’s presence and representation at the relevant ASEAN Ministerial Meetings.

The President of LIA Singapore, Dr Khoo Kah Siang, shared that "One of the key discussion topics at the AIC Meeting is the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community. This forum is therefore an important platform to engage with other associations as well as the regulators to ensure regulatory alignment so as to enable the ASEAN insurance industry to continue to develop and grow positively in the region."

The highlight of the annual programme is the dialogue that industry business leaders have with all the ASEAN insurance regulators. The regulators hold their own concurrent and separate meetings.
Find out more about the progress of AEC
A series of briefing sessions on the AEC will be scheduled to take place in all ASEAN countries over 2014, starting with Singapore.

For more information on the AIC, go to

Feature Article

AIA's 1st Bancassurance Conference held in Singapore

On 25 November 2013, AIA's Inaugural Bancassurance Conference was held at the St Regis hotel in Singapore. Around 100 retail bankers and AIA senior executives attended the conference. Mark Tucker, AIA Group Chief Executive & President, said in his Welcome Speech that the objective of the Conference is to provide a forum to exchange insights, to stimulate forward thinking ideas and to explore the potential opportunities in the market.

There was a special line up of the eminent speakers, who are experienced experts with unique field insights which helped participants to look at situations with a fresh perspective. Here is the snapshot of the speakers' presentations.

Macro-economic Trends in Asia and the Impacts on the Banking and Insurance Industry by Ilian Mihov - Dean and Professor of Economics at INSEAD

Speaker 1

Professor Mihov presented a comprehensive picture of macro-economic trends in the World. He said that "innovation" and "incentives" are the 2 sources of growth in the world since the Industrial Revolution in 1820. And if there are strong incentives to innovate, it will give no limit to growth, be it a country or a company.  The introduction of Intellectual Property introduced in the 90's has given incentives to people to innovate as inventions have become rewarding. 

From his research and studies, he summarised that there are 4Is for economic growth:

  1. Innovation - the incentives to innovate will drive up productivity growth in the country. This is the main force behind the growth in the developed countries, namely US, Japan, France and Germany
  2. Initial Conditions - If the country is poor, it provides a potential for them to catch up with the developed countries through investment.
  3. Investment - stability and good quality institutions drive investment. Countries with high investment rate of 25% or more of GDP created miracles.
  4. Institutions - The best way to ensure sound macroeconomic policies and political stability is to build institutions that create incentives for stability: Independent central bank, checks and balances, rule of law, transparency.

Professor Mihov is very optimistic about the economic growth in Asia Pacific and there are high growth opportunities in banking and insurance. For insurance, with the increases in income per capita, insurance should become a more appealing option. Every 1% increase in GDP per capita will increase the per capita premiums by 1.86%. Insurance growth will be driven by significant under-insurance in life, health protection gap and aging.

Consumer Trends in Asian Retail Banking by Seow Chien Chew, Partner, Bain & Company

Speaker 2

In her presentation, Seow Chien talked about the 4 key themes that affect the banking sector in Asia and 5 imperatives for banks to prepare for the future.

4 key themes affecting the banking sector include:

  1. Emerging New Middle Class in South East Asia - This new segment is growing with an estimate of 200 million people in the region. Their income levels allow them to afford TV set and car and they have different price points as compared to the traditional middle class. It is important for the banks to redesign their value propositions to serve this growing segment of customers.
  2. Power of Customer Advocacy - To stay ahead of the competition, customer experience is of significant importance to banks. Creating superior customer experience will drive customer promoters and customers will keep coming back. It is found that the value of a customer promoter is 5 or 6 times higher than the value of a detractor because the former buy more, stay longer and recommend their friends to come to the company.
  3. Shifting Competitive Boundaries - A variety of players including large locals, regional banks, Japanese mega bank and Chinese mega banks are competing in the field. Non-traditional competitors including retailers, internet providers are encroaching into banking space with innovative propositions.
  4. Digitisation of Services - A new phase of digitisation is impending where banks should have digital interface for much more complex interactions, digital advisory, digital sales and innovations around customer experience.

Seow Chien also shared some key findings from their global survey regarding "Retail Bank for the Future". There are 5 key imperatives for the banks to prepare for the future:

  • Create digitally enabled customer experiences
  • Build an omni-channel sales and service models
  • Position technology at the heart of strategy and execution
  • Fund investments through efficiency gains
  • Organise as an innovative enterprise

Digital Bancassurance - How Tablets are Transforming the Way Insurance is Perceived and Sold by Hugh Terry, Editor of the Digital Insurer

Speaker 3

Hugh's presentation was aligned with Professor Mihov's and Seow Chien's sharing that innovation is key for companies to stay competitive. Hugh has specifically discussed the role of Tablet Toolkits in the transformation of bancassurance business.

Hugh believed that the primary benefit from Tablets is to increase sales effectiveness though a better customer experience. There are other benefits if high usage is achieved which include lead analytics, improved compliance to sales best practice, back office productivity from digital proposals, reduced overheads, business intelligence, recruitment tool and platform for more automated underwriting.  Hugh also introduced AIA Point of Sales Tookit as a case study - AIA has a strategic lead in the use of tablet tookits because AIA's tablet has a broad set of functionality and it has the ability to roll out regionally and extend to both agency and bancassurance.

In his final comments, Hugh advised that it is the time for the bancassurance business to embrace change and start building digital models. If we don't utilise digital thinking, plenty of others will.

Risk Taking and Decision Making - Impacting Your Role as a Leader by Caspar Berry, Motivational Speaker, Professional Poker Player and Entrepreneur

Speaker 4

Caspar Berry is the final speaker who gave an entertaining and inspirational speech on risk-taking and decision making on Poker, Business and Life.

Based on Caspar's vast experience as a poker player, entrepreneur and actor, he said that the biggest risk that we can take in the long run is not taking enough acceptable risk NOW.  Moreover, every decision is an investment decision as we invest our time, money, reputation and many other things into it.

A great decision, in Caspar's words, is "One that, if repeated, in the long run, propels the decision-maker most efficiently and effectively towards their desired destination given the constraints and parameters that they have placed upon the conditions of the journey."

In addition to the speeches, AIA set up the AIA Vitality Booth and iPoS Demo Booth at the foyer to allow participants to get to know better AIA's Wellness Program and the Tablet Toolkit.

Very positive feedback was received for the Conference as the Speakers were truly inspiring and shared unique insights to the participants. We look forward to have another great Conference set-up in 2014.

Manulife Investor Sentiment Index reveals that saving for retirement is Singaporeans' top financial priority

Manulife's Investor Sentiment Index (MISI) in Asia is a quarterly, proprietary survey measuring and tracking investors' views across seven markets in the region on their attitudes towards key asset classes and related issues in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. In March this year, the inaugural MISI in Asia was released, Q2 results were released in July and the most recent survey results were announced in October.

The MISI is based on 500 online interviews in each market of Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan, and Singapore; in Malaysia and Indonesia it is conducted face-to-face. Respondents are middle class to affluent investors, aged 25 years and above who are the primary decision maker of financial matters in the household and currently have investment products.

MISI Infographic

According to the MISI Q1 2013 survey results, despite Singapore investors' early head start in life when it comes to planning for retirement, 57 per cent of them are pessimistic about being on track in achieving their financial goals. At the same time, 52 per cent of Singapore investors do not think their personal savings alone can afford them a desirable life at retirement.

The survey also revealed Singaporeans' assets (excluding primary residence) that consisted of cash was the highest in the region. The number of months of personal income in cash was 38, 35 and 39 months respectively for the three quarters. Despite this, over half of Singapore investors still feel that their cash holdings were inadequate.

In MISI Q2 2013 survey results, 42 per cent of Singapore investors do not invest their cash because they are worried about making the wrong investment decision. A third of Singapore investors who did not like other investment options revealed that they did not shift cash into other assets because they do not understand the options available.

According to the MISI Q3 2013 survey results that was released in October, Singapore investors responding to the survey expect to be in retirement for 18 years on average, but their estimated savings will last only 12 years, leaving a six-year gap. In today's monetary terms, this amounts to a savings shortfall of SGD250,000 per person on average, based on investors' own calculations. While most Singaporeans say they have started planning for retirement, 32 per cent have not.

To read the article in full, go to

Q&A with Alex King

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning." - Albert Einstein

Alex King - Photo1

That is Managing Director, Asia of Pacific Life Re Limited Alex King's guiding inspiration in life - a mantra which has molded him to take on an ever optimistic perspective in life.

"I love life because it is a series of many unexpected events which shape you into the person you are today. I like working with people who have a positive outlook and a 'can do' attitude. I find it a challenge to develop a strong bond with negative people," he muses.

His energetic optimism and love for people and culture extends to the way he approaches the business. At work, Alex strives to bring a focused and consumer-oriented strategy to clients to bring products that will be valued and make a genuine difference to the lives of customers.

"I strongly believe that the end customer should be at the centre of any new product development process and my team dedicates effort into building genuine partnerships with our clients to deliver this," he shares.

Heading a team across Asia is challenging but has its perks. Alex counts Vietnam, Tokyo and Malaysia as some of his favourite countries to visit. Ever the opportunist, he translates the experiences he has cultivated into his passion for the business.

"We have a team of 31 people in Asia covering all countries from Indonesia to Japan. This means that we can share product ideas based on our experiences across the region rather than having a single country outlook and enables us to develop market-leading innovative new solutions," Alex says.

Alex inspires to play a role in the growth and maturation of the Asian insurance market while at the same time maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Alex King - Photo2

What many do not know about Alex is that he used to be a football referee who has overseen matches which included several different international players.

"I once gave a yellow card to Matthew Le Tissier who played for England and Southampton FC," Alex declares.

To unwind after a hard day's work, Alex indulges in his second passion - food!

"I enjoy exploring new places to eat in Singapore. My favourite restaurants are Jaan and Bacchanalia for something fancy and of course the local hawker food!" he enthuses.

This Christmas, Alex is mostly looking forward to spending some quality time with his family and loved ones as the year comes to a close.

We caught up with him to find out more fun facts:

Q. Do you have a personal philosophy for life/career that you strongly believe in?

My general philosophy in life is to treat others in the manner that I would like to be treated. I feel this helps develop rapport with people and demonstrate genuine warmth in all of your personal and professional relationships.

Q. What do you usually do in your leisure time?

I love all sports but especially football, cricket and rugby. I support Everton FC in the English Premier League.

Q. What do you love most about the December festivities?

I used to love the cold and crisp mornings however that is obviously not possible in Singapore! I find that people seem to be in a much happier mood around Christmas time and are looking forward to spending some time with their families.

Q. A couple of my proudest moments were....

My promotion to my current position as I have always wanted to lead an organisation outside of the UK and qualifying as an actuary as this involved a lot of hard work and some careful balance between office work, study and socialising.

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