On Monday, 15 November 1999, I was lucky enough to have a day in Paris – including Eurostar both ways and a lunch as only the French can provide. Glasses bubbling over with very best vintage champagne heralded a superb four-course meal. There was only one slight snag. I had to sing for my supper, or should I say lunch, by giving a presentation to members of the Fédération Francaise des Actuaires. The venue was a large dining room in the head office of a well-known merchant-bank right in the heart of the city. Jean Berthon, Vice President Executif of the Fédération, was in the chair.
My theme was the employment market for actuaries in the UK. The interest shown by the audience – confirmed by the range and depth of their questions and the rapturous reception afterwards – came as quite a surprise. It became very clear to me that our nearest Continental neighbours think very highly of UK qualified actuaries. Demand for our services is high, but with one proviso – command of the French language, including business and technical terms, is a must.
It was a day of coincidences too. On the outward Eurostar I sat next to the actuarial director of a UK merchant bank. Both of us had planned to work on the train. Neither of us did! Then, at the actual presentation, I found that the actuary designated to translate technical terms into French was one I had actually placed in his job in Paris. The audience was highly amused. Monday, 15 November 1999 – definitely a day to remember.