My grandma got a walking aid as a New Year’s gift. Back then, I promised to take her out for a long walk in the park once the weather would allow for it. Now that spring finally seems to have arrived, it makes me sad I cannot keep my promise, even though I know it is for her own good. Luckily, she is still in good health, which is – as the current situation feels like a constant reminder – what matters most in life: the health and wellbeing of our loved ones and of ourselves.
I also realise that we, as actuaries, are lucky: most of us are in the privileged position of being able to work remotely from the comfort and safety of our own homes. This “forced experiment” even gives us a unique preview on how certain aspects of life could be improved: no long commutes and endless traffic jams, less noise and air pollution, … A life I could get used to (minus the occasional stressful supermarket visits). And while the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on my life has remained – luckily – rather limited so far, not everyone is experiencing these challenging times in the same way, which is why it is – now, more than ever – important to regularly check in with your family, friends and colleagues and to connect in meaningful ways.
From a professional point of view, our day-to-day work is only slightly affected thanks to the latest technology and tools. At EY, we are still able to deliver projects in largely the same way as before, only now we are working remotely. In that sense, not much has changed. Within our actuarial team, we still hold our weekly calls and (virtual) meetings, we still have an active WhatsApp group where we keep each other updated on our day-to-day. On top of that, we added daily one-to-one interactions within our team, which gives a unique opportunity to discover new things about each other.
I am confident that the Belgian insurance companies are generally well prepared to take on the challenges ahead, both from a capital position and an IT infrastructure point of view. Even though it is still too early to determine the exact extent of the impacts (be it the negative impact from business interruption or Life & Health insurance, the positive impact from reduced frequency of motor claims or the impact from the financial markets), I am hopeful that the insurance sector will prove to be resilient. Nevertheless, smaller players, especially mono-line insurers may have difficulty navigating through this crisis.
The NBB is therefore closely monitoring the evolution of solvency, liquidity and overall financials and has shown a prudent stance this week by requesting insurers to refrain from distributing dividends to their shareholders in line with EIOPA’s earlier communication.
One thing is clear: while this is a new reality for all of us, we need to keep doing our best in what we do as actuaries, but also in all other aspects of our lives.
Please look out for each other, stay safe and stay in touch.
EY Consulting BV