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Answer · Actuarial Science
Books Do a lot of people drop out of actuarial sciences?
Health Jeff Forden, former Actuary at Farmers, Milliman, Electric (1990-2017)
Answered May 24, 2018
Music
I did. Twice. Two separate times, about 17 years apart, I voluntarily walked away
Movies from a successful career as an actuary in the Property/Casualty insurance field.

Bookmarks
Presumably, though, your question is specifically about the exams as opposed to
the profession… my answer is still “twice”. I achieved my milestone ACAS
(Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society) designation after about 6 years of
balancing a young career, a young marriage, and grueling semi-annual exams.

Then I took a break from studying because I wanted to put more emphasis on the
other two things (job and personal life). The break became semi-permanent once
we had kids, but I found myself wishing I had stuck with it many years later
when I was passed over for a promotion, simply because I had never achieved the
higher-level FCAS (Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society) designation. So I
rearranged my life for about 3 years, but found very limited success in the exams
at that time, and decided once and for all that the letters behind my name meant
little compared to how well I performed my job, and how much satisfaction I got
out of life.

Do people drop out? Hell yes. Smart people, dedicated people, hard-working
people drop out. The exams are a miserable experience for many of us. I rarely
went into one of those 4-hour sprints without feeling a mastery of the material,
and I failed more often than I passed. This after spending hundreds of hours
studying on my own time, after work and on weekends.

Personally, my issues with the exams boil down to two things:

1. It is not possible to prepare enough to remotely “ensure” success for a


given exam sitting. The volume of material is significantly broader than
what will be tested, so your areas of relative strength may not come into
play. And they are, of course, graded on a curve.

2. Passing an exam has no bearing on how well you do your job. Studying
for the exam arguably trains you for your professional responsibilities,
but I never worked for a company that particularly cared if I passed or
not (other than, as mentioned above, without the FCAS designation, I
was not “eligible” for a specific promotion).

In my 25 years working as an actuary, I met maybe a half dozen people who


managed to pass all of the exams without ever failing one of them. I respected
three or four of them as good actuaries, and I actually liked only one of them. I
tend to get along better with the other dropouts.

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Answer · Actuarial Science
How stressful is it to be an actuary?
Hunain Naeem, An aspiring actuary
Answered May 5, 2017 · Upvoted by Ravi Vyas, Actuarial Trainer and consultant and
Gokul Mari, M.Sc/ M.A Statistics & Actuarial Science, Central University of Rajasthan
(2018)

Being an undergrad who is pursuing the career, I get the opportunity to listen to
multiple actuaries at our weekly club meetings.

This is what I have noticed:

1. The entry level actuaries love their job and don’t find it stressful. This
may be because they are still learning and haven’t been given loads of
responsibilities.

2. The experienced (15+ years) actuaries are very content with their job.
They talk about a part of their career where they had a lot of work and
long hours while managing more than one project at a time. But you
know what? None of them ever used the word stressful while talking
about their career.

I had read online about the stress and workload actuaries have, but after meeting
these wonderful men and women, I can say that ‘stressful’ is not the right way to
describe what they do. Some appropriate words would be: time consuming,
difficult etc.

All in all, actuaries don’t find their job stressful. They enjoy it. After all the
rigorous testing, you actually only are left with people who really want to do
what they are doing.

That’s just my immature opinion and perspective as a student. Feel free to


correct me!
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Updated Dec 12 · Upvoted by Surjit Mohanty, IIT Ropar,B.tech electrical engineering
The man who left the system is not the same as the man who entered. We are a flux.
We are changing constantly and that is life. ... Loading…

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Answer · Actuarial Science
What does the future of actuarial work look like?
Joey Tse, B.S. Actuarial Science & Finance, University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign

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1 Answered Jun 14, 2018
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Looks like to me, more of the same. The products I see my friends who are now
credentialed actuaries are working on more or less the same products that were
offered when we graduated around 2001/20... Loading…

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Answer · Actuarial Science
What makes property and casualty (actuarial science) more
math-heavy than life and health?
Marvin Martin, mmath Actuarial Science, University of Waterloo
Answered Mar 16, 2018
Most of my career has been on the general insurance side so take my comments
on life with a grain of salt:

I guess it depends on what you mean by “math heavy”. The pricing risk element
for life insurance tends to be lower because of the availability of larger and more
stable amounts of data (life tables, drug costs, etc) with (mostly) known payouts
in the event of a claim. The risk is that the liabilities have a long term duration
and as such there is substantially more investment risk which primarily focuses
on timing of payments and interest rate risk. Interest rate models can be quite
mathematically involved but this usually isn’t part of actuarial analysis.

For general insurance, there is much less investment risk because policy terms
tend to be a year and even though for some lines of business claims can
sometimes take 10–15 years to settle (litigation for example), this is still much
shorter than a life policy. On the other hand, the data available isn’t as clean or as
complete as it would be on the life side. There is really no “life table” equivalent
for a 2010 Ford Focus for example. The timing isn’t really important as much as
the amount of a claim (and how many you have). On top of this, many general
insurance lines have relatively low claims counts, but any policy with a claim is
pretty much guaranteed to pay out more than the premium received.

There is also less mass data to back up rating variables meaning that more
analysis needs to be done from an actuarial stand point. Compare a life
insurance application with a home insurance application in terms of number of
questions asked for example.

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Answer · Actuarial Science
Can actuaries easily get jobs in many parts of the world? I’ve
read that the actuarial industry has close to a 0%
unemployment rate. Does this hold true only for America, or
does it apply to Europe and other parts of the world, too?
Anonymous
Answered May 23, 2018
You should be aware that SOA/CAS have put a lot of money into pushing their
agenda:

Creating the illusion that


1- the job security for actuaries is good,
2-US actuarial training is knowledge-wise updated,
3- the greatest/coolest job,
4- About recognition and other perks

In reality it is not. Point by point:

1-There are a lot of people, with several exams and no way near to get an entry
position. Let’s face it, there are no many insurance companies out there. Also,
there is a slight trend: they prefer someone who has recently passed (a requested

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1 number required) exams rather than someone who has already passed those the
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exams, under the believe that the later group has already forgot some details.
“Interesting” that many of those fighting for an actuary entry position in USA,
with several exams under their belt, have foreign names. That is a well-known
issue, but few want to talk about it. Read forums to see that and the reply they get
are like: “Improve your English” or whatever excuse they say.

2-No, far from the truth. the US actuarial training is out-of-date, mathematically,
statistically and data science speaking, as all exam-based system out there. why?
One example only, among many: Bayesian statistics is one reason. It is seldom
that you would encounter conjugate distributions. Rather, you have to deal with
MCMC, convergence, etc. You cannot test that in a paper-and-pencil exam. But
there is worse thing: Many of the literature you have to read to pass exams are
created by Fellowships and most of them are not in the front line of research and
thus, their knowledge is out-dated.

3-It is not near a cool job. Actuaries deal with a lot of reporting. That is the
reality. US trained actuaries have no time to code software in R, Python, etc
because the little time they have is to study for exams. Hence, US trained
actuaries are not updated. On the other hand, European ones, which are usually
trained using a University-based system are updated. Both Canada and UK
moved to a more University-based training system. This has led that many mid-
career US trained actuaries have left the profession, I mean, left insurance
companies, towards data scientist or even other math-related subjects. After all,
what’s the point to study math to end up filling Excel sheets?

4-The SOA fellowship is ONLY accepted in UK, Australia, and other “market”
related countries but NOT in continental Europe. This is the reality. The
European market is a very strong market, and based on Solvency II, they have
put their actuaries to really THINK about what to do about it. Hence, continental
European trained and working actuaries are expected to be in the front line of
knowledge and applications.
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Answer · Actuarial Science
What jobs outside of actuarial science can an undergraduate
degree in actuarial science get me?
Samiul Islam, Actor (2010-present)
Answered Feb 3, 2018
Actuaries typically do the following:

Compile statistical data and other information for further analysis

Estimate the probability and likely economic cost of an event such as


death, sickness, an accident, or a natural disaster

Design, test, and administer insurance policies, investments, pension


plans, and other business strategies to minimize risk and maximize
profitability

Produce charts, tables, and reports that explain calculations and


proposals

Explain their findings and proposals to company executives,


government officials, shareholders, and clients

Most actuarial work is done with computers. Actuaries use database software to
compile information. They use advanced statistics and modeling software to
forecast the probability of an event occurring, the potential costs of the event if it
does occur, and whether the insurance company has enough money to pay
future claims.

Actuaries typically work on teams that often include managers and professionals
in other fields, such as accounting, underwriting, and finance. For example,

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1 some actuaries work withaccountants and financial analysts to set the price
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for security offerings or with market research analysts to forecast demand for
new products.

Most actuaries work at insurance companies, where they help design policies
and determine the premiums that should be charged for each policy. They must
ensure that the premiums are profitable yet competitive with other insurance
companies.

Actuaries in the insurance industry typically specialize in a specific field of


insurance, such as one of the following:

Health insurance actuaries help develop long-term care and health insurance
policies by predicting expected costs of providing care under the terms of an
insurance contract. Their predictions are based on numerous factors, including
family history, geographic location, and occupation.

Life insurance actuaries help develop annuity and life insurance policies for
individuals and groups by estimating, on the basis of risk factors such as age,
gender, and tobacco use, how long someone is expected to live.

Property and casualty insurance actuaries help develop insurance policies


that insure policyholders against property loss and liability resulting from
accidents, natural disasters, fires, and other events. They calculate the expected
number of claims resulting from automobile accidents, which varies with the
insured person's age, sex, driving history, type of car, and other factors.

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Updated Dec 12 · Upvoted by Surjit Mohanty, IIT Ropar,B.tech electrical engineering
The man who left the system is not the same as the man who entered.

We are a flux.

We are changing constantly and that is life.

Heraclitus, the great Greek philosopher said, ‘You don’t step into the same river
twice.’

Man is like a river – flowing constantly, changing constantly; flowing towards the
sea, the ocean, to dissolve there, disappear there.

The one who is 15 years old and preparing for IIT-JEE, has one kind of thought in
mind. He is a child who is conditioned by the situation at home, by the fact that
he was born in the family of bureaucrats, by the fact he thinks that the only way
to live a meaningful life, the only way to contribute is through the government
machinery.

And he thinks that if you want to be an IAS then you first must be an IITian
because he saw that the IITians were making through IAS top rankers’ list; so he
says it is alright to reach IAS via IIT.

That’s why he prepared for IIT.

And then the time changes. The teenager is no more a teenager.

In the process of preparation itself, he sees what is meant by centralized


government, what is the truth of bureaucracy and he does get selected and he
spends a couple of months in the training academy.

And he sees how things operate there and sees that wherever there is centralized
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And he sees how things operate there and sees that wherever there is centralized
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And by this time he is already 22 and he says, “No, I am young. I cannot spend my
life in a system that will constantly dictate how I am to be.”

So, he quits.

But you know this question is not of such great importance to you except for one
thing. It doesn’t matter where you are.

Your entire history has brought you to a point but that history doesn’t
matter. In your awareness, in your deep understanding, what is right, is
right.

Yes, I had invested a lot of time in pursuing my B.Tech degree and I had invested
time in preparing for civil services exam and I invested time in doing my MBA
also.

But that doesn’t mean that my past becomes so heavy upon me that I live just as
a slave to it, that I must be an engineer because I have engineering degree, that I
must work as a manager because I am MBA from Ahmedabad or I must be a
bureaucrat because I cleared civil services exam. No, past doesn’t matter.

In fact, if at a particular point something looks right to you, go ahead and do it.
Don’t be a captive to your history. Don’t say that now that I have invested so
much in it, how can I leave it?

These are sunk costs.

You go to watch a movie, and, you go inside and you discover in first one
hour that movie is crap.

Now there are two options:

1. You can say, ‘I have already invested three hundred in ticket and one
hour in the movie so I will invest one more hour’.

2. The other option is, ‘I have only invested three hundred rupees and one
hour, why should I waste another hour?’

And whether you go by first choice or the second one, that decides the entire
destiny of your life.

Do you see these two approaches?

First approach says, ‘I have already invested three hundred rupees and one
hour so let me spend another hour.’

Second one says, ‘I still can save one hour and I have invested only three
hundred, why am I investing more into something that does not deserve it?’

Nothing is permanent.

You need not be committed to anything except your own consciousness.

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Question added · Actuarial Science

Why do you want to be an actuary?


1 Answer · Last followed May 4, 2018

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Answer · Actuarial Science
Is Actuarial Science worth the effort that goes into doing it?
Cameron Pillay, Bachelor of Science Actuarial Science & Statistics,
University of the Witwatersrand

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1 Answered Dec 18, 2017
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Actuarial Science is a beautiful degree that one can study if one possesses the
ability to do so. It’s an extremely rewarding course as it gives the person a unique
experience about finance and money management.

The course equips the person to quantify risky events and deal with uncertainty
in a methodical manner. It trains the person to take a long term view about all
decisions and give the ramifications of those decisions. To sum up what the
course does in one sentence, the course trains the person to defer the emergence
of profits.

The effort that one must put it in is ernormous and can take several years
(minimum 7 years) to qualify as a Fellow Actuary. However, one does not neeed
to qualify fully to work alongside actuaries.

In order to qualify, there are a series of examinations that need to be written


amongst other requirements. The other requirements and much simpler to fulfil
and I will not go into them.

The exams are broken into five segments. The first three are for an Associate
Actuary and the latter two are for a Fellow Actuary.

The Assocaite exams consist of basic, intermediate and advanced exams. The
Fellow exams consist of fellowship principles (two exams) and the big boy, the
Fellowship exam.

Actuarial Science is a stimulating career for one that would like to do work as an
analyst, business manager, investment banker and manager, insurance
management and consultant, consulting in traditional and non-traditional work
as well as working on the data side. The exams are traditional based and it’s sole
focus is on insurance.

If you would like to work on insurance I would strongly recommend studying the
entire course as it is so worth the effort. However if you taking a more non-
traditional career, I still think the course is worth studying. You can opt for the
assocaite exams only and leave out the fellowship exams to complete the course
quicker. The assocaite exams are not specific to insurance and provide a wide
skill set to solve numerous problems.

The assocaite exams require a very good understanding of mathematics and


statiscal skills as these skills are fundamental to write the exams.

The actuarial course is not for everyone as it requires a lot of dedication and
persistency to pass the exams. Be prepared to fail multiple times and take 7 to 10
years to complete if you are starting from scratch to qualifying fully. It would
take about 4–7 years to get the Assocaite qualification.

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Answer · Actuarial Science
Why do people pursue a career as an actuary?
Jeff Forden, former Actuary at Farmers, Milliman, Electric (1990-2017)
Answered Jun 1, 2018
Money, security, relative lack of stress.

Way back in 1989, about a week before I graduated with a Math/Economics dual
major and had no plans other than a 9-week European backpacking adventure, I
first heard the word actuary, and recognized it as a potentially great fit for my
skills and interests. When I got back from my trip, I sat for the first couple of
exams (which in that day, were about math) and passed them both. Soon
afterward, I was interviewing at local insurance companies, and was offered a job
making more than the vast majority of my friends. And there you have it… I had
become an actuary, so to speak.

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1 That was the last time I would have “easy” success with the exams, but I did
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enjoy the job, and quickly became known as a reliable, energetic actuarial
student in a large department full of peers. And I was living relatively large… my
roommate referred to me as “Banco Del Forden” because I always had money to
loan him.

I definitely got money and security from my career. Except for a stint in the
consulting arena, relatively low stress level, too. Ultimately, a big part of the early
decline in my career came from other side of that “money and security” coin.

Actuaries are paid well largely because of the professional designation,


accomplished via the exams and the professional organizations that administer
them. When cracks began to appear in the mystique surrounding “the Actuarial
Black Art” (the VP at my last company actually used to call it that), partially
because we had begun training a large number of entry-level analysts to perform
some of the core actuarial “super-science”, well… the company started to feel a
bit less excited about paying nice salaries for what it (somewhat justifiably) saw
as past success in the exams as opposed to highly specialized abilities.

Plus, several actuaries who passed through our ranks were not good fits for the
company culture. Damage was done to our team’s credibility, and eventually
there was a lot of writing on the wall that bothered me professionally and
personally. About 10 months ago, I took the money and ran. I’m only now
starting to understand how to enjoy not working.

Speaking of which, it’s Friday afternoon and there’s a hammock out back that
will be wondering where I am.
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Answer · Actuarial Science
Is there a good connection between Actuarial Science and Law?
Will these two areas complement each other?
Felipe Almeida, Actuarial Science
student
Answered Jul 2, 2018
Yes, there is a great connection! One of the greatest things in actuarial science is
its multidisciplinarity.

There is a new area of law called "actuarial law". Take social security as an
example: the world is having a demographic crisis and it obviously creates new
complex problems in social security field. The risk involved in social security is
not restricted to social security law — it's totally related to actuarial law! Hence,
any social security study should not be restricted neither to actuarial science nor
only to social security law.

Actuarial law ranges from the constitutional field to quantitative methods,


giving special attention to all areas involving risk: social security, insurance,
banking, business, gaming, public health, etc.

There are two researchers constantly publishing articles about it: Arthur
Weintraub, a professor of Actuarial Law and Social Security Law at Federal
University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), and Giuseppe Ludovico, a professor of
Labour and Social Security Law at University of Milan (UNIMI).

I'll share some of their works (that actually were the foundation of my answer)
and some other things that can make you understand it better.

[1]
A Responsabilidade Intergeracional no Direito Previdenciário (The
Intergenereational Responsibility in Social Security Law)
[2]
Mudanças Demográficas e Reformas da Aposentadoria na Itália (Demographic
Changes and Retirement Reforms in Italy)
[3]
Seguridade Social: Itália e Brasil (Social Security: Italy and Brazil)

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[4]
1 I pilastri previdenziali "a capitalizzazione" nelle diverse esperienze del
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Canada, del Brasile e dell'Italia : il sistema dei controlli, i profili attuariali e le
prospettive evolutive (The "capitalization" pension pillars in the various
experiences of Canada, Brazil and Italy: the control system, actuarial profiles and
evolutionary perspectives)

[5]
John Rawls’s Theory of Justice

[6]
Justice with Michael Sandel

Footnotes
[1] A responsabilidade intergeracional no direito previdenciário
[2] http://www2.camara.leg.br/ativid...
[3] SEGURIDADE SOCIAL: ITÁLIA E BRASIL
[4] I pilastri previdenziali “a capitalizzazione” nelle diverse esperienze del
Canada, del Brasile e dell'Italia: il sistema dei controlli, i profili attuariali e le
prospettive evolutive
[5] John Rawls' Theory of Justice
[6] Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? Episode 01 "THE MORAL SIDE OF
MURDER"
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Answer · Actuarial Science
Should I pursue a Masters in Actuarial Science?
Qiongsi Wu, studied Actuarial
Science
Answered Aug 23
The answer to any career development question in the line of “should I pursue a
master in X” tends to gravitate towards “it depends”, and indeed, these questions
tend to be personal and it is hard to give an ideal answer without more details.

That said, assuming you are an average student (not saying you are good or bad,
just saying I have no information about that at all), the answer is quite a
resounding no. The line of thinking goes as the following.

The only qualification you need to be come an actuary is passing all the required
exams. Even if you never graduate from high school, if you pass all the exams
and have some intern experience, you will have no problem landing a job.
Additionally, the daily work of an actuary involves little research, so the research
skill gained through a master’s study is basically useless.

If you can pass the exams, a degree in actuarial science does not mean anything.
If you cannot pass the exams, a degree in actuarial science means even less.

Now maybe there are other perspectives. Maybe you want to go into a
quantitative field such as financial engineering or data science. Master of
Actuarial Science will make you ill prepared compared with the masters in
engineering/computer science/quantitative finance. You will have a difficult
time competing with them.

It seems to me that there is no upside and only down side, quite a strong
evidence indicating that doing a masters in actuarial science is a waste of
time/money.

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Answer · Actuarial Science

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1 Would actuarial science and accounting be a good double


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degree?
Wai Pun, BSc Maths from Hong Kong
Answered Mar 27, 2018
This will be quite valuable for an insurance company.

The world will soon implement IFRS 17 and this is considered most complicated
profit reporting system. Most argue you need both background to get it done.
Before IFRS17, the world did not have an agreed system for insurance profit
worldwide until 2017. The way of reporting in US was very different from the
Australia for example.

This is because there are a lot of arguments about insurance contract. Unlike
retail business, the profit is simple revenue less expense. Insurance companies
are likely to take a loss the first year when they write a policy. Their earnings
come from later years. If you book a loss for writing a business then it violates
one accounting principle that is to provide a useful financial information about a
company.

You can google a bit what IFRS 17 is. This is a system that co-created by
accountants and actuaries. So strong background in both areas make you quite
valued in the company.

Finally, if you have no interest in working an insurance company, this is not that
useful.
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