Finance sector lobbyist Mikko Kuusela to be professor of practice in insurance mathematics at the University of Helsinki

Mikko Kuusela, director of pensions at Finance Finland, entered the post of professor of practice in insurance mathematics at the University of Helsinki at the start of year 2022.

Along with this professorship, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics gains a strong link to the core of the insurance sector, as well as a fresh practical outlook.  

-I want to promote the interaction between academia and the insurance sector, and share information about a career as an insurance mathematician with the students, says Mikko Kuusela.

Finnish law stipulates that each insurance institution must employ an insurance mathematician, or actuary, who has completed the so-called SHV exam approved by the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health. Besides university courses, the exam includes insurance studies organised by a separate committee. Mathematicians often work with many different professionals, such as lawyers, investment and finance professionals, insurance processors, as well as administration and upper management.

Insurance mathematics is applied mathematics, analysing risks with the help of probability calculus and statistics.  Insurance and finance mathematics is one of the sub-programmes of the Master programmes in mathematics and statistics. The courses teach such things as what underwriting reserves are and how large the insurance premiums should be in different kinds of insurance contracts.

The students at the University of Helsinki will have the opportunity to learn about careers in the insurance sector during a careers seminar in spring. Insurance mathematicians working in different areas will visit the seminar to tell the students about their careers.  The goal of the seminar is to raise awareness about the whole insurance sector, various employment opportunities for insurance mathematicians, and the exam for insurance mathematicians.

It was by chance that Kuusela himself ended up in the insurance business. It was not his top career dream as a student, but after finishing his PhD degree, he gained his first job in pension insurances in the private sector. Looking back, pension insurance is the insurance field closest to Kuusela's heart because investments and financial skills – his special interests – play an important part in it.

It is typical of the insurance sector to act responsibly. The preconditions are set by legislation but there is room for innovations. Artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning bring new opportunities and the insurance products are constantly being developed further. Platform economics are also challenging the insurance sector, says Kuusela.

The professorship is funded by donations. The LocalTapiola Group decided to support the professorship with a donation of 100,000 Euros since global risks like climate change are challenging the finance and insurance sector, increasing the need for the expertise of insurance and finance mathematicians.

- Establishing the professor of practice in insurance mathematics was important for the creation of deeper practical contacts between academia and insurance and finance companies. The insurance sector will still be offering new careers to experts in the future. The companies need high-quality expertise and application of the latest research findings, says actuary director Janne Kaippio from the LocalTapiola Group, which is the main funder of the professorship.

Other backers are Turvallisuuden tukisäätiö (foundation for safety) and The Actuarial Society of Finland.