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The development of EURACS 

European Actuarial & Consultancy Services (EURACS) has developed over more than three decades of considerable change.  It is Europe’s oldest and largest network of major, independent actuarial consulting firms.

EURACS operates throughout 14 European countries and South Africa, with close links to firms in North America and Asia.  Each member firm is dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of the profession – and most are long-established by local standards and influential in government circles.

EURACS has been established as a single umbrella organisation for more than thirty years, during which time our members have exchanged a wealth of experience and knowledge with each other at bi-annual meetings.  Because members of EURACS usually operate in only one country, these meetings, with discussions of current issues and new developments in the different member countries, are invaluable to each firm’s actuarial consultancy.

Some history

Until the early 1980’s, British firms of consulting actuaries were severely inhibited by their professional code.  This discouraged incorporation and advertising.  Faced with competitive pressures in Europe from US-based consulting companies, Britain’s then three largest firms of actuaries decided in 1982 to co-operate in the formation of a new organisation.

Thus (reputedly at Nice airport during a flight delay after an international conference!) EURACS was born in the form of a partnership under English law involving all the partners of those firms.  This itself was technically innovative in that it raised questions of EC anti-trust legislation.

The new organisation was registered in Brussels and was operated by a small group of representative partners from the three firms.  In due course, it acquired the pension practice of a major Belgian bank (who clearly anticipated a growth in international pension investment services), including a Belgian General Adviser and a consulting actuary.  Two further consulting actuaries, from the Netherlands and Germany, became associated with the firm shortly after.

In 1985, the representative partners established a second office in the United Kingdom to service the needs of British-based multinationals.  At this time, formal relations were established with consulting actuarial firms in France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Denmark and Norway.  During the period, one of the British founder firms withdrew – having been acquired by American interests.

The challenges of a changing Europe

By 1988 it had become clear that the single market programme was likely to have a profound effect on European life assurance and pensions.  Accordingly, for a number of years, EURACS decided that, for “core” business, it should be represented by a single firm in each country.  EURACS then re-formed as an association of independent firms with a new Constitution to which all participating firms adhere.  In 1997 it relaxed its “one firm per country rule”.

The fall from power of the Communists in Central and Eastern Europe in the late eighties gave rise to new challenges.  EURACS made the decision in principle that all Members would co-operate together in the development and analysis of requirements of these new markets.  In this regard, conferences were held in Vienna in 1992, Mäastricht in 1993, Prague in 1994, Berlin in 1995, Budapest in 1996, Bratislava in 1997, Kraków in 1998 and Riga in 1999, bringing together Central, Eastern and Western European pension practices and aspirations.

Europe and beyond

EURACS’ membership has continued to grow and its ‘borders’ to expand, as it has gone on to include South Africa and Russia in its list of member countries.  The network has also established links with firms in Asia and across North America.

Looking forward

The success of any association of professional firms depends heavily on quality of work and economic success of its members.  Each EURACS member is dedicated to excellence and increasing market share.  So EURACS is able to provide common services to multinational companies and political institutions.

Members change from time to time as their ownership and affiliations change.  EURACS, having adhered to the principle of representation by one firm in each country, has now reverted to its original format; i.e. that in some circumstances representation by more than one firm in a particular country can give added strength to EURACS and enable it to compete more strongly – quite possibly as the only association of independent firms to survive.