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Interview with Joanna Chardon, Chief Product and Pricing Officer at Wakam

This month, we introduce you to Joanna Chardon, Chief Product and Pricing Officer at Wakam, the digital French insurer that provides products for large European platforms and insurtechs. Among its clients, Wakam counts well-known names in the tech industry such as Deliveroo and Uber. In 2021, its turnover reached €450 million; a growth mainly driven by international business.

Joanna Chardon is one of the big names in pricing in France. As Head of Wakam’s Advanced Pricing Analytics, Pre-sales Pricing, Products and Underwriters teams, she talks to us openly about her career as an actuary.

Hi Joanna! What a pleasure to make this interview with you today. You are undoubtedly one of the leading figures in the field of pricing in France.  Can you tell us about your career path?

After my studies at the University of Gdansk in Poland, I started my professional life as an actuary in the Technical department of AXA XL (formerly AXA Corporate Solution). I oversaw the evaluation of specific risks such as asbestos, pollution or pharmaceutical risks.  An experience far away from mass risk pricing, in which I later specialised by participating in the creation of AXA’s direct entity in Poland in 2007. This exciting adventure led me to pursue my career in a new entity of AXA Global Direct. I held several successive positions as the global pricing teams grew. We built excellent teams in an international and very entrepreneurial context.

In 2018, I joined AXA France to build the “Center of Pricing Excellence” and help the local pricing teams to refine and industrialise their existing pricing methods and processes.

Finally in June 2020, I decided to join the insurtech Wakam to support its international growth and expansion.

 

Why this turn in your career after so many years at AXA?

Big companies are very formative and can offer the opportunity to work on large-scale projects. Indeed, I have spent almost 20 years in this environment, working in many different positions without ever getting bored. If you are looking for a well-defined job, to be part of a group with defined processes, to gain experience and to have a certain stability, a big international firm seems to meet these expectations perfectly.

However, with the explosion of the insurtech ecosystem, I simply wanted to explore these new distribution approaches in the insurance world. The opportunity that arose at Wakam corresponded perfectly to this desire. At Wakam, we are immersed in an insurtech culture, but we are also in partnership with many start-ups in different European countries. A change of scenery is guaranteed. Working in this environment requires a deeper commitment. You shouldn’t arrive with too many certainties but rather with a positive attitude of looking for solutions. You must also participate fully in the growth and success of the company in order to fulfil your potential. In the end, it requires a very entrepreneurial attitude to see opportunities where others do not.

 

Wakam is an insurtech with strong values (freedom, curiosity, excellence…) Has its corporate culture brought a new dynamic to your way of working?

At Wakam, everything moves very fast. The progress we’ve made in only 2 years is incredible. All “Wakamees” are free to tackle tasks of any scale and proactivity means not just taking orders from the boss but suggesting actions to customers to improve the product or service.

In such a culture, the executives are behaving like coaches rather than typical managers. In other words, it’s more about accompanying those who “move mountains” to help them reach their goal and  realise their ideas. This is a very different attitude from what I have seen in bigger companies. At Wakam, we cultivate a mentality of entrepreneurs who see the same reality as others, but who manage to find ways to transform it. Of course, this creates a whole new dynamic that requires a strong team spirit and the ability to take risks. Facing obstacles is also our daily routine.

 

What do you like most about your job at Wakam?

In such a varied and dynamic environment, you learn at high speed. It’s very satisfying and challenging. I have an incredibly passionate and dedicated team, really! They are very motivated people who are progressing very quickly. It’s great to support them in their progress. The human relationships are very enriching at Wakam.

 

Your team is made up of various profiles (end-to-end and pre-sales). How does this impact your role as Chief Product and Pricing Officer?

I am responsible for several teams: Advanced Pricing Analytics, Pre-sales Pricing, Products and Underwriters. These are teams that are growing very fast. In 2 years, we have gone from a very small team to 25 people (and we are still growing!). Together with my managers, we have succeeded in building high-performance teams with great cohesion, where each person is in their place. It’s a mix of balance and complementarity in our approach to managing projects with collective objectives. On a daily basis, I simply try to live up to their ambitions.

 

Can you tell us about one of the challenging projects you are currently working on at Wakam?

There are a lot of very important projects at Wakam. It is challenging to manage them all at the same time. However, with our rapid growth, we are focusing on the industrialisation of our processes and practices. In this context, I can probably mention the project to develop our APIs, which will allow us not only to manage our numerous pricing models but also to collect data dynamically to allow almost instantaneous pricing adjustments. This is a high impact project that brings together the pricing, IT and data teams.

 

What are the current and future challenges for all those working in pricing?

Most pricing teams are sitting on a huge wealth of strategic information. In the course of their work, they accumulate a ton of performance data that could be used to better inform several strategic decisions. Providing data to decision makers is a key responsibility for most pricing teams. But doing it right is a significant challenge.

 

According to Women in Finance, less than 30% of senior managers in finance are women. What advice would you give women to reach the highest positions?

Shirley Chisholm, the first black female member of the US Congress, once said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Women must continue to demand their place in leadership and decision-making. We must remain authentic. We must not misrepresent who we are. As a woman, I certainly don’t have the same way of managing teams as a man and this is exactly how I make a difference.

 

An experience during your career that has marked you the most?

My experience is the fruit of an incremental learning process, an alchemical relationship between its different constituents. Everything is important – every encounter, every project, every assignment. To cut them out or isolate them would be to reduce them. At times, details that seemed insignificant before come back to me with great precision. It is a whole that leaves its mark as it goes along.

 

A lesson learned during your career?

To really believe in the intelligence of people and their full potential. I believe that simplicity and common sense have a bright future.

 

If you could change one thing about your job?

Not only in my job, but more generally, I aspire to a more inclusive and tolerant society that is open to differences with a kind of collective intelligence. It is an intelligence that can be learned, maintained, and passed on.

 

Let’s finish with our last signature question, the one we ask everyone to end an interview. Whether personal or professional: what would you like to do that you haven’t done yet?

In general, I make my choices in accordance with my intuitions, so it’s not a question of daring, but rather of maturing ideas or the right moment. I dream of certain trips to discover very different ways of life, but compatible with the climate challenges. An idea that needs to mature further.

 

Thank you very much for your time and your answers.

 

 

 

Interview with Audrey Meganck, CEO of Detralytics

This month, we introduce you to Audrey Meganck, actuarial consultant, and CEO of Detralytics: a Belgian-French consulting and training firm focused on actuarial science, data science and risk management. And they’re on a roll! The company has doubled its turnover in one year and is now expanding internationally. Meet a woman with a multifaceted career, captain of an actuarial ship that she steers with a deft hand.

1.  Hello Audrey, can you tell us about your career path?

During my thesis in Mathematics, Jean-Claude Debussche, then CEO of Mensura (BE) – Assubel at the time -, drew my attention to the actuarial profession. I then decided to leave the theoretical world of pure Mathematics to start something more applied. Jean-Claude is one of those people who played a major role in the development of my career. It is a blessing to have a mentor like him, always ready to advise you.

In parallel to my studies as an actuary, I was hired by Assubel-Accident du Travail (BE) as a Contract handler (in the Underwriting Department). This combination has helped me tremendously throughout my career. Understanding how an Underwriter assesses a risk, prices a risk, interacts with a broker, … These are aspects that you don’t learn in universities but are so important in the running of an insurance company.

Once I had my degree, I naturally evolved internally into a more technical position but still linked to underwriting, or rather its monitoring. This experience allowed me to continue my evolution in Risk Management which was emerging with the arrival of Solvency II.

When Allianz bought the business side of Mensura, I joined their Risk Management Department. Overseeing a broader scope, I was able to work on integration projects and broaden my technical knowledge by dealing with several business lines. I later joined Federale Insurance to pursue my development in Risk Management for two years.

Finally, after 10 years in the same field, I wanted to join a “first line” function again, and joined  Belfius as P&C Technical Manager. Even if Risk Management is exciting and is, fortunately, becoming more and more integrated with the business, it remains a “control function” and I wanted to get closer to the world I had known when I started in the insurance world, i.e.  business and underwriting. I have now been running Detralytics for 4 years.

 

2.  Why did you choose to pursue your career in consulting? Were you attracted by  the CEO position s?

This position allows me to discover multiple fields and companies. In addition, when your leadership is appreciated, it is satisfying.

However, the rise through the ranks of a company has never influenced my career choices. I even admit to being embarrassed when I am introduced as a CEO. It sounds very “imposing”… My career changes have never been calculated. Instead, I seized the opportunities that came my way  when all my selection criteria were met: the challenge, the content, and the human aspect. I must admit that I never considered the consulting world before Detralytics.

 

3.  What do you like most about Detralytics?

What is most important to me is to feel that I can bring real added value to a project or a team while remaining intellectually challenged. This is what I found at Detralytics. I also appreciate the diversity of my tasks, discovering new fields, meetings with insurance companies, the start-up aspect that allows me to write the history of the company almost from scratch and especially the human adventure. Indeed, Detralytics wants to offer a real springboard to young graduate actuaries through its TAP program (Talent Accelerator Program). Guiding them, advising them and, above all, seeing them evolve, gives me a great deal of satisfaction.

 

In addition to my job, I still consider myself an actuary and a mathematician. This position allows me to  keep on  making connections between academic developments and the technical-practical side by applying recent developments to a real problem. Seeing that these contributions bring value is extremely satisfying

 

4.  Any advice for actuaries who want to develop their career as quickly as yours?

In my opinion, it is important to maintain an insatiable curiosity about your field. This is something that my other mentor, Jean-Marie Maes (ex-consultant at Mensura) taught me during my early years as an actuary. His curiosity and great interest in technical developments really impacted  me. Finally, I would recommend everyone to get out of their comfort zone on a regular basis by taking on new challenges. Participating in training courses and working groups can also be very enriching in terms of content and contacts to broaden your horizons.

 

5.  Company director, trainer, expert consultant, member of the board of the Belgian Institute of Actuaries …. You are on all fronts! Is it a choice?

It’s more than a choice, it’s a necessity. All these activities nourish me intellectually and humanely and are a real driving force for me. Currently, I could not only be satisfied with one role. As long as it works, I’ll continue!

 

6.  An experience that has marked you the most during your career?

Looking back, it’s the encounters that stick in my mind the most. Not only the colleagues with whom I was able to evolve, but also the people I met at events, at institutes of actuaries or during training sessions.

 

7.  According to Women in Finance, less than 30% of senior managers in finance are women. What advice would you give women to reach the highest positions?

Above all, don’t change, stay true to who you are! We hear far too often that women are less listen to than men because they don’t thump the table. A woman who does so is seen as arrogant, whereas a man is seen as a great leader. By pounding the table, you are heard but not always understood. Instead of believing that women have to do the same to stand out, I prefer to encourage women to bypass these kinds of stereotypes by shining through their skills, determination and peer recognition. Furthermore, I believe that in any community, diversity is essential.

 

8.  As a woman, what kind of challenges did you have to overcome in your career?

As a woman, the challenge is often to balance career and personal life. It might sound cliché, but it’s the reality, especially when you want to start a family. My professional commitments deprive me of certain moments. Even though I am fortunate to have an amazing family who helps us a lot, I always feel guilty if I don’t spend enough time with my children.

 

And as an actuary?

As an actuary, my biggest challenge has been communicating with less technical profiles. Having to manage a relationship with salespersons at the beginning of my career taught me a lot on that level. When we talk about communication, we often focus on getting our message across , but deciphering the needs of the other  is just as important

9.  You have an international career to date, what are the most striking differences between the French and the Belgian markets?

I don’t see any significant differences, apart from the cultural differences that we already know about. I would say that the French market is much larger and therefore more closed  than the Belgian one. In Belgium, everyone knows and follows each other. In France, everything moves very fast. You can quickly lose track. However, a larger network offers more opportunities to young start-ups like ours.

10.  Do you have an anecdote to tell us?

During a meeting in France, I was asked to connect “the octopus”. I felt stupid because I didn’t know what it was. I had to ask the question 3 times and looked around for an octopus. In Belgium, we call it a spider.

11.  A lesson learned during your career?

That the content of a job is very important but that the company culture and the people working with you matter  just as much.

12.  If you could change one thing about your job?

That’s a very good question… I don’t see anything. I love my job and I love talking about it.

13.  Future projects?

To continue evolving with Detralytics and its consultants. I am also involved in activities outside the insurance world. I have always been interested in applying our actuarial models or techniques to other fields. I am currently helping a start-up in the field of debt collection to implement risk factor analysis to optimize debt management.

14.  Let’s finish with our last signature question, the one we ask everyone to end an interview. Whether personal or professional: what would you like to do that you haven’t done yet?

To cross the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat, preferably with my dad.

Personal picture provided through the courtesy of Audrey Meganck

 

Thank you Audrey for your time.

Do you have an atypical career? Do you know an actuary with a successful career? Send us a message at info@asquarepartners.com. We would be delighted to conduct an interview together to share your experience with our networks.

 

Interview: Mathieu Lambert | Deloitte Consulting

It took only a few years for Mathieu Lambert to forge a name for himself in the insurance industry at the international level. After 10 years working at AXA, mainly in Belgium, Mathieu just gave a new impetus to his career by joining Deloitte Consulting as  Director. Read below the interview with an IT engineer and former gamer “Counter Strike” enthusiast, with an outstanding journey as an actuary.

Mathieu Lambert

Mathieu Lambert

Hello Mathieu, would you tell us more about your first experience in the actuarial sector?

My journey is quite atypical. I started with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and then moved on to Actuarial science. Once I graduated, I joined Reacfin, a Belgian actuarial consulting firm. I was able to start my career as a Consultant in charge of very practical missions such as model development and reporting. This type of mission allows you to acquire the right reflexes, especially when you  just graduated from university without any professional experience. After 3 years in consulting, AXA quickly offered me to take the lead of the  non-life risk management team. At this young age, I couldn’t refuse such an opportunity. We were in the middle of the “golden age of risk management”, a period marked by the implementation of the Solvency II regulation.

Throughout my career, I always wanted to get additional field experience that would allow me to better understand how an actuary could have a positive impact regarding insurance brokers and clients. Thus, AXA Group proposed me to go on a mission abroad. I started working at AXA Direct UK in London where I participated in the development of their dynamic pricing project. The UK market is very aggressive and price sensitive. The British people buy their insurance contract just as they buy their plane ticket, on specialized platforms called “aggregator”. Then, I headed to Turkey where I had to set up a non-existent pricing team and support the reserving teams.

In 2016, I returned to Belgium and started leading the pricing teams at AXA Belgium for P&C Retail activities. Rapidly, I also had to manage the Data Scientists department which was quite decentralized. Still with the willpower to better understand how the industry works and the reality of the teams , in addition to all my responsibilities, I accepted to take the responsibility for  all the legal protection part in order to collaborate with the operational, claims, product and innovation teams.

 

Compared to the classic career path of an actuary, you have evolved very quickly and became a manager at a very young age (30). What is the secret of your success? 

You are the master of your own career and you reap the rewards of what you sow. So for me it’s a question of investment. If you invest in a company with the objective of growing, you generally manage to evolve in a positive way. I would advise you not to hesitate to reinvent yourself, to question yourself, to embrace failure in order to bounce back better and to stay hungry for learning.. Moreover, it is important to see your evolution in a collective way. We never grow alone but with the help of our team. Mutual respect is therefore essential.

 

Have you faced particular challenges moving on quickly to management functions?

Throughout my career, I have always had to manage people older than me. It is important to gain their trust through credibility. I think I have achieved this by directly identifying the missions where the teams needed help in order to support them by being available. Indeed, I do not hesitate to take on a task myself when the team is overwhelmed. I have always favored this team spirit with my collaborators by acting as a coach and not as a leader. Victories are then shared together and not individually.

 

Would you advise actuaries to specialize themselves on a specific expertise or to broaden their skillset to develop their career?

Both have tremendous value for a company. It all depends on their professional perspectives. If you have a career as a specialist, I would advise you to hyper-specialize in order to be recognized as a specialist in your field and among your peers. If, on the other hand, you are a generalist like me, then you have to make sure you understand the multiple facets of an insurance company to be able to bring maximum value in the strategic choices.

 

AXA Group is a company that has invested heavily in data these past few years, what have you learned from your position as Chief Data Analytics?  

Today, an insurance company can no longer exist without data. This will be even more true in the future. Investments in data are becoming increasingly massive. For me, it is critical and central for the strategy of an insurance company to get to know its customers very well and its market by collecting data. One of the challenges will be to manage, use and above all exploit its data in order to stand out from its competitors.

 

Is there an experience that has marked you the most during your career?

My experiences at the international level have been the most memorable. You learn from other cultures by discovering other market contexts. Colleagues don’t adapt to you. You are the one who must adapt very quickly to respond conscientiously and coherently to the problems within the teams while respecting the local values and culture.

 

Any anecdote to share with us?

Despite the fact that I’m a computer scientist, actuary and a bit of a geek on the side, I’ve always been passionate about everything related to cultural transformation programs. A few years ago, when AXA launched this program, I was invited to be a coach. This experience marked the first step of my interest in leadership. Yesterday, we were able to work in a hierarchical way. Today, it is no longer the case. The way to motivate employees varies completely across generations.

 

Which lesson have you learned during your career?

Knowing how to benefit from one’s experiences, whether positive or negative, in order to keep on growing.

 

If you could change one thing in your job, what would it be?

I would say the international dimension. I really do miss travelling.

 

Any idea of what the future holds for actuaries?

The recent European flooding episode sets the tone perfectly. For me, an actuary is essential to the business of an insurance company on several levels. Being able to evaluate risks is an increasingly critical challenge that faces rapidly changing risks with random frequencies. The actuaries of tomorrow will also have to master all the data at their disposal to reveal the realities of the market.

 

Any future projects?

I recently decided to move one step further in my career by leaving AXA to go back to the consulting world with Deloitte, with the objective to focusing on major transformation projects. My ambition is to have an impact on the whole value chain of the insurance industry.

 

Congratulations on this new challenge! I suggest to end this interview with our traditional question, the one we always ask. Whether on a personal or professional level: What would you like daring to do that you haven’t done yet?

Travelling for 2months with my wife and my kids around the world. (smile)

 

Interview by Adrien Binon, December 2021.

 

 

Entretien avec Mathieu Lambert – Parcours d’une évolution fulgurante

Mathieu Lambert with nature in the background

En quelques années, Mathieu Lambert s’est fait très rapidement un nom dans le milieu de l’assurance et sur le plan international. Après 10 ans passés chez Axa, principalement en Belgique, Mathieu vient tout juste de donner un nouvel élan à sa carrière en acceptant le poste de Directeur chez Deloitte Consulting. Interview avec un informaticien et ancien gamer fan de « Counter Strike » à la carrière actuarielle remarquable.

 

Bonjour Mathieu, parle-nous de tes débuts dans le monde de l’actuariat.

Mon parcours est assez atypique. J’ai commencé par une licence en informatique pour me diriger ensuite vers l’actuariat. Une fois mon diplôme en poche, j’ai rejoint Reacfin, une entreprise belge de consultance en actuariat. J’ai pu y faire mes premières armes en tant que Consultant chargé de missions très pratiques telles que le développement de modèle et de reporting. Ce type de missions permet d’acquérir les bons réflexes surtout quand on sort de l’université sans aucune expérience. Après 3 ans en consultance, AXA m’a proposé de prendre la responsabilité du risk management non-vie. C’était, à mon âge, une opportunité que je ne pouvais pas refuser. On était en plein dans « l’âge d’or du risk management » ; une période marquée par l’implémentation de la directive Solvency II.

Tout au long de ma carrière, j’ai toujours eu le souhait de me rapprocher du terrain afin de mieux comprendre la manière dont un actuaire pouvait avoir un impact positif vis-à-vis des courtiers et des clients. AXA Groupe m’a alors proposé de partir en mission à l’étranger. J’ai commencé pour AXA Direct UK à Londres où j’ai participé au développement de leur projet « dynamic pricing ». Le marché anglais est un marché très agressif et price sensitive. Les anglais achètent leur contrat d’assurance comme ils achètent leur billet d’avion sur des plateformes spécialisées appelées « agrégateur ». Ensuite, direction la Turquie où j’ai dû mettre en place une équipe pricing inexistante et soutenir les équipes reserving.

De retour en Belgique en 2016, je prends la responsabilité des équipes pricing pour AXA Belgium sur les activités Retail IARD. Très rapidement, on me donne la gestion des Data Scientists, une équipe qui était décentralisée. Toujours avec cette volonté de mieux comprendre le fonctionnement de l’industrie et de sa réalité de terrain, je prends la responsabilité de la protection juridique où je suis en charge des équipes opérationnelles sinistres, produit et innovation.

 

Comparé au parcours classique d’un actuaire, tu as évolué très vite et es devenu manager à un très jeune âge. Quel est le secret de ta réussite ?  

On est maître de sa propre carrière et on récolte les fruits que l’on sème. C’est donc pour moi une question d’investissement. Si on s’investit dans une entreprise avec l’objectif de grandir, on arrive en général à évoluer de manière positive. Je conseillerais de ne pas hésiter à se réinventer, se remettre en question, accepter les revers pour mieux rebondir et garder cette soif d’apprendre. De plus, il est important de voir son évolution de manière collective. On ne grandit jamais seul mais bien avec l’aide de son équipe. Le respect mutuel est donc primordial.

 

As-tu rencontré des défis particuliers en passant aussi vite à des fonctions managériales ?

Au fil de ma carrière, j’ai toujours été amené à manager des personnes plus âgées que moi. Il est important de gagner leur confiance par la crédibilité. Je pense y être parvenu en identifiant rapidement les missions où les équipes ont besoin d’aide afin de les soutenir en me montrant disponible. En effet, je n’hésite pas à me charger moi-même d’une tâche lorsque l’équipe est débordée. J’ai toujours privilégié cet esprit d’équipe avec mes collaborateurs en agissant comme un coach et non comme un chef. Les victoires se partagent alors ensemble et non individuellement.

 

Conseillerais-tu aux actuaires de se spécialiser dans une expertise bien particulière ou d’élargir leur éventail de compétences pour développer leur carrière ?

Les deux ont une valeur énorme pour une entreprise. Tout dépend de leurs  aspirations personnelles. Si on a plutôt une carrière de spécialiste, je conseillerais de s’hyper-spécialiser pour être reconnu comme spécialiste dans son domaine et auprès de ses pairs. Si par contre, on est généraliste comme moi, il faut alors s’assurer de comprendre les multiples facettes d’une compagnie d’assurance pour pouvoir apporter un maximum de valeur dans ses choix stratégiques.

 

AXA Group est une entreprise qui a énormément investi dans la data ces dernières années, quel apprentissage retiens-tu de ta fonction de Chief Data Analytics ?   

Aujourd’hui, une compagnie d’assurance ne sait plus exister sans données. Ce constat sera encore plus vrai demain. Les investissements dans la Data sont de plus en plus massifs. Il est pour moi critique et central dans la stratégie d’une compagnie d’assurance d’arriver à bien connaître ses clients et son marché au travers de la collecte de données. Un des défis sera d’arriver à bien gérer, utiliser et surtout exploiter ses données afin de se différencier de ses concurrents.

 

Une expérience qui t’as le plus marquée au fil de ta carrière ?

Mes expériences internationales ont été les plus marquantes. On s’enrichit des autres cultures en découvrant d’autres contextes de marché. Les collègues ne s’adaptent pas à toi. C’est toi qui doit t’adapter très vite pour répondre de manière consciencieuse et cohérente aux problèmes des équipes  dans le respect des valeurs et de la culture locale.

 

Une anecdote à nous raconter ?

Malgré le fait que je sois informaticien, actuaire et un peu geek sur le côté, j’ai toujours été passionné par tout ce qui était programme de transformation culturelle. Il y a quelques années, lorsqu’AXA a lancé un programme, j’ai été invité à être coach.  Cette expérience a marqué mes premiers pas sur tout l’intérêt que je porte au leadership. Hier, on pouvait travailler de manière hiérarchique. Aujourd’hui, ce n’est plus le cas. La manière de motiver les employés varie complètement en fonction des générations.

 

Une leçon apprise durant ta carrière ?

Savoir profiter de ses expériences qu’elles soient positives ou négatives pour pouvoir continuer à évoluer.

 

Si tu pouvais changer une chose dans ton métier ?

Je dirais la dimension internationale. Les voyages me manquent !

 

Une idée de ce que réserve l’avenir pour les actuaires ?

L’épisode des dernières inondations européennes donne parfaitement le ton. Un actuaire reste pour moi central dans le métier d’une compagnie d’assurance sur plusieurs plans. Parvenir à évaluer les risques est une épreuve de plus en plus critique face à des risques en pleine mutation et aux fréquences aléatoires. L’actuaire de demain devra également maîtriser toutes les données à sa disposition pour modéliser au mieux les réalités du marché.

 

Des projets futurs ?

J’ai récemment décidé d’aller un pas plus loin dans ma carrière en quittant AXA pour me relancer dans le conseil auprès de Deloitte avec une volonté de m’axer sur des grands projets de transformation. Mon ambition est d’avoir un impact sur l’ensemble de la chaîne de valeur au niveau de l’assurance.

 

 

Félicitations pour ce nouveau challenge ! Je te propose de clôturer cette interview par notre question signature, celle qu’on pose à tout le monde. Que ce soit sur le plan personnel ou professionnel : Qu’est-ce que tu aimerais oser faire et que tu n’as pas encore fait ?

Partir deux mois en voyage avec ma femme et mes enfants à l’autre bout du monde. (sourire)

Spotlight on cyber insurance with Olivier Lopez, Ph.D.

Olivier Lopez, Ph.D.

Through interviews with key players from the finance and insurance sector, we invite you to discuss topics that are currently shaking our industries. Today’s focus is on cyber insurance.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Olivier Lopez, professor at Sorbonne University, director of ISUP and scientific director at Detralytics. For 4 years, Olivier has explored every corner of cyber insurance. Among his work, he observed the rise of a new risk and the lack of methods to quantify the risk. He is currently co-leader of a research project on the subject with the Risk Foundation, funded by the AXA Research Fund.

 

 

Hello Olivier!  Why everyone is paying attention to cyber insurance nowadays ?

Recently, we have witnessed an aggravation of the cyber threats due to the raise of the use of digital technology and our dependence on it, which was accentuated by the Covid-19 crisis. Our economic sector and our daily life are increasingly exposed to these cyber risks. The weight of digital technology in the economy now makes it necessary to use insurance tools to protect oneself and it is in this context that it is necessary to build a cyber insurance market, which is currently in full development.

 

In 2020, 192 significant ransomware attacks were listed by the National Agency for Computer Systems Security compared to 54 attacks in 2019, an increase of 255% in one year (Source CERT-FR). Why should we fear cyber risk?

Cyber risk is scary for two main reasons. On the one hand, we can have a “classic” case of an entity being attacked, which incurs a huge cost linked to various consequences of a cyber-attack, including loss of activity. On the other hand, it is not excluded that the phenomenon takes on a greater scale and it is often difficult to predict. We are talking about so-called accumulation phenomena, which are massive phenomena that can endanger pooling. It has already been the case particularly with the “Wannacry” or “NotPetya” episodes which both took place in 2017.

 

WannaCry : le bilan un an plus tard | Avast

 

What are the issues resulting from these massive events for insurers?

This is where it gets problematic. The NotPetya case, for example, has been assimilated to an act of cyber warfare. We could say that this case does not necessarily fall within the scope of insurance since there are notably exclusion issues that are introduced in guarantees and which can protect the insurer against this type of event. In reality, this is quite illusory because the exclusions are difficult to define in the context of cyber insurance, and it is also quite possible to have massive events that cannot be assimilated to acts of war.

 

From an actuarial perspective, what are the main challenges in developing adequate cyber insurance products?

One of the difficulties is pricing. Putting a price on a cyber risk can be complicated, especially considering the competition of other insurers, which can complexify the pricing.  Another critical point  is the risk management, in other words, the management of the commitments made by the insurer,. Indeed, the insurer must be able to manage the greatest number of risks and therefore offer sufficiently broad coverage to meet the needs of society in terms of cyber insurance. The challenge for actuaries is therefore, on the one hand, to develop cyber insurance products that both have an adequate pricing for the risk and are sufficiently robust to really  serve as an umbrella in the event of a cyber major catastrophe.

In addition, today, we are trying to exclude from the guarantees a certain number of events that are poorly controlled facing a risk we are scared of. This exclusionary logic is undoubtedly partially necessary, but it also limits the quality and attractiveness of products and therefore limits the number of people who will sign for these cyber insurance contracts and, consequently, slow down pooling.

 

What are the challenges for the actuarial sector?

As I said, the stake is in a way quite historical because it is not every day that there is a new risk of this magnitude that emerges. Insurance is expected to be one of the resilience factors in this area of cyber risk and the challenges for the actuarial sector are to develop a solid knowledge of this risk, to succeed in mastering it and to be able to offer solutions that remain attractive.

 

What methods are used to assess these risks to date?

There are different methods and different models that allow us to better understand these risks, although these methods and models are not obvious and (not yet) completely successful. Ideally, these tools should be able to overcome certain difficulties and therefore take into account criteria that are sometimes difficult to measure such as the scale of the event, its severity or the speed of its evolution over time.

 

Facing all these difficulties, what advice would you give to actuaries who wish to approach cyber insurance?

Before tackling the issue of cyber insurance, we must understand the risk and the major issues associated with it. To do so, one must take into account not only the technical elements but also the functioning of the risk, the functioning of cyber-attacks and the human aspect of it, which is particularly crucial and almost preponderant over the rest. Indeed, one of the specifics of cyber risk is that it is essentially a human risk with the potential of disaster wish is not necessarily natural. In addition,  the phenomenon can evolve rapidly over time and  potentially be extremely severe. Since this is a relatively new risk, we have imperfect knowledge of it. It is necessary to learn gradually by integrating both expertise but also reliable statistical information and robust actuarial techniques.. If we want to be able to anticipate and manage cyber risk, we therefore need tools that have the ability to anticipate and model the behavior of the various players, and to adapt to their constant evolution. If we do not fully understand these mechanisms, there’s always the risk of a delay in the risk assessment.

 

One final word ?

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