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Survey Report | Beyond Data

Actuarial Examination Rewards – United Kingdom 2021

How do rewards for exam success differ between the United Kingdom and Asia Pacific?

Total Rewards|Talent|Executive Compensation

By Lindsey Norton-Bugg and Matthew Whitehead | September 9, 2021

Our report aims to highlight what levels of support are typically provided within the UK market.

Actuaries are undoubtedly a vital part of the workforce, assessing the risk of future events and assisting with critical decisions that can affect businesses at every level. Pursuing a career as an actuary takes a great deal of commitment. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the need not only to retain their key talent, but also to nurture future talent. Because many insurance and professional services companies who employ actuaries have a sizeable presence in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, it can be useful to compare rewards and support provided for passing actuarial exams.

Growing demand for actuaries

The demand for actuaries is expected to continue growing for the next five years due to economic uncertainties, particularly shifts brought about by the pandemic. Many public and private entities turned to actuaries for data-based advice on pandemic response, and will continue to do so.

Actuaries are also in high demand outside of the UK market. Globally, actuarial roles are expanding to non-business fields such as genetics, education, public infrastructure, and environmental sustainability and climate studies. In APAC specifically, insurance companies in Taiwan are increasingly recruiting actuarial interns for big data/modelling (research) projects. In Hong Kong, the demand for actuaries is further stimulated by developments in the local regulatory system.

As actuarial careers gain traction in the APAC region, more institutions are offering actuarial science programmes and special actuarial scholarships for students. Consequently, the number of graduates continues to increase and the competition for high-calibre talent gets more tense each year. As in the UK, employers in APAC are looking to determine how to best use rewards to attract and retain top actuarial talent.

Comparing rewards

Our 2021 Actuarial Examination Reward Report – United Kingdom aims to highlight what levels of support are typically provided within the UK market. The report complements the actuarial employee compensation data available in our wider surveys.

The level and type of actuarial examination support provided in the UK is somewhat similar to that provided in APAC countries1. For example, when it comes to passing actuarial exams we see that it is more than likely an organisation will provide some form of premium (salary increase or bonus amount). In the UK, 93% of organisations provided this, with the percentages in the APAC region ranging from 67% (Taiwan) to 100% (Singapore) of organisations.

Many organisations pay a premium for passing an exam immediately after their results were released.
Premiums granted for passing exams

We also see similarities in when these premiums are awarded, with 38% of UK organisations paying the premium to an in-training actuary immediately after their results were released. The majority of APAC countries were very similar, with only Thailand (78%) being outside of the range of 30% to 50% of organisations.

Although the UK and the APAC region have very similar approaches to paying premiums for passing exams, we see that nearly a third of UK organisations will backdate the payment of such premiums to the date the exam was sat, whereas in APAC countries this is not typical practice.

Whilst most companies pay after the results are released the UK does have organisations who backdate this premium.
The percentage of organisations paying after release of results.

Another similarity found between the UK and APAC countries is that it is very common for employers to pay the exam fees of trainee actuaries, with only one country (Vietnam) having less than 85% of organisations doing so.

However, the UK has a different approach when it comes to paying the fees for exam retakes. In the UK, 98% of organisations will pay for at least the first retake; in the APAC region, only China comes close to this, with 75% of organisations being prepared to pay, while the percentage of companies in the rest of the region who pay for at least for the first exam retake ranges from 38% to 67%.

Many organisations will pay for a retake of an exam on the first exam.
Percentage of organisations paying for retakes

Balancing global and local perspectives

A wide range of information is captured in our suite of actuarial reports, providing a comparative look at trends in rewards and support for actuarial talent. Despite similarities worldwide in the desire to gain actuarial skills within organisations, it is important to reference individual country trends when designing actuarial support programmes. This is especially important for international businesses which may have global policies.

If you are interested in learning more about the Willis Towers Watson UK or APAC Actuarial Examination Reward reports, or our wider compensation surveys within financial services, please contact us for further information.


1. This data is captured in Willis Towers Watson’s Actuarial Premium Survey – Asia Pacific.


Actuarial Examination Rewards – United Kingdom 2021
2020 Actuarial Premium Survey APAC report
IBIS World Actuarial Consulting Services in the UK - Market Research Report
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Actuarial Society of Hong Kong
The Actuary
Society of Actuaries
Invest Hong Kong


Lindsey Norton-Bugg
Senior Associate

Matthew Whitehead

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