We speak to Donald Hove the Actuarial Consultant

Where do you currently work?

I work at African Actuarial Consultants, Zimbabwe

What does your firm do?

It provides advice to financial firms and individuals usually where quantitative skills are required to understand risks and make decisions. Our vision is to help African institutions grow using actuarial and other quantitative skills. We work with insurance companies, pension & employee benefit schemes, medical aid funds and banks.

Tell us a little bit about your career history?

After graduation, I worked for a little over 2 years at Saxum Actuarial Consultants in Harare as a junior consultant.  My work involved advising pension funds and funeral assurance companies.

I moved to African Actuarial Consultants in 2009 where I joined as a junior consultant in the employee benefits team. I was quickly moved to the life insurance advisory team to work on financial reporting and product design. I was quickly promoted due to good progress in professional exams and in the work to consultant and I began to lead the team so after.

My department was split in 2013 and I was asked to focus on product development and management work. At the same time I was asked to lead the formation of a new department which would advise general insurance clients. Over time I grew into liking the general insurance advisory more and more.

I am currently leading the general insurance and wider fields’ team with less responsibilities for life insurance which was something I really loved. I am looking to grow my team and most of all qualifying as an actuary this year. I am left with 2 exams to qualify.

Was this always your dream career or it changed somewhere along the line?

I never knew about the actuarial profession until I was in secondary school. At that time there was a lot of mysticism around the profession with people regarding it as a socially disoriented profession. My dream was to be a medical doctor. In fact, I joined medical school for about 2 months before I quit and opted for mathematics. My mind had been made up to pursue actuarial science. I joined the UK professional body.

One thing I could relate to was the ease with which I dealt with numbers. I enjoyed mathematics a lot. I even won the Mathematics Olympiad in high school. I am happy that I can combine mathematical skills with other business courses to impact the way people run businesses and make important decisions in life.

How closely does your academic education fit in with your job?

Mathematics fits very well. It gives me better tools to study actuarial science deeper and be able to apply different methods to solve complex problems.

What qualifications do you hold?

  • Honours in Mathematics
  • Diploma in Actuarial Techniques
  • Certificate in Finance and Investment

In short what educational path got you where you are? Could you have made the path shorter?

I did the Honours degree from 2003-2006. I started professional actuarial exams in 2005.

I do admit I could have made my career path shorter with a bit more hard work. Changing career from medicine to actuarial science was not easy with pressure from my family. They were passionate about having a medical doctor in the family. In a big way, I allowed myself to be confused over that decision and took time to move on with confidence.

  • What are the tasks that you do regularly in your profession?
  • Financial reporting of insurance companies- we provide some of the figures
  • Advising top management on business performance and strategy
  • Supervising junior consultants in my team
  • Researching and developing new ways of adding value to our clients

What is it that excites you the most when you are doing your job?

Making a difference using actuarial skills and being in a unique position to communicate results to clients in a way that allows them to make decisions and move forward.

I enjoy working in a team of bright individuals and seeing the ideas that flow out of teamwork.

What bits do you find boring in your daily tasks?

Administrative work is top. It is too mundane but someone has to do it and it is crucial. I generally hate anything that is routine. I like to find new ways of doing things and testing the latest research recommendations from around the world.

Any advice to those studying or aiming at this job or career?

This career is not as mystical as it is made to be and you don’t have to be a genius. There are many opportunities and you need to define yourself well due to large tracts of uncharted territory. It is rewarding and you can move into almost any senior business role especially in the financial services area. Being an actuary is challenging because people expect you to have many answers and ask for your opinion on many issues. It is a push to stay ahead every time.