- A lot of us must have heard of the word – Actuary but do not know what it is exactly.
- In fact: In this article, Akshun Geetesh covers everything you need to know to become an Actuary.
- In this article, you will learn: Who is an Actuary, How to pursue the same and Can Chartered Accountants study to be an Actuary.
Who can become an Actuary?
Currently many are not aware of the term Actuary and it’s role in society. India has 1.3 billion people (approx.) and there are only 350-400 qualified Actuaries in India so imagine the scope of this profession.
So who can become an Actuary?
- Anyone who has a keen interest in Numbers / Mathematics!
- The basic requirement for starting your career in Actuarial is that you should be good with your mathematical and statistical concepts when you start.
- This is a tailor-made profession for guys who love math and analysis!
- You could start your Actuarial journey after 12th Standard the same as Chartered Accountancy.
- Really difficult to pass if you don’t understand basics such as integration or differentiation which you usually learn post 10th
- Visit the website for more details http://www.actuariesindia.org/
From where do I pursue Actuary in India?
There are 4 well-known institutes through which one could appear for Actuarial papers:
- Institute of Actuaries of India (IAI)
- Institute & Faculty of Actuaries, Uk (IFoA) [Well recognized globally]
- Society of Actuaries, US (SoA) and
- Casualty Actuarial Society, US (CAS)
There are many more local institutes spread worldwide. All of the Institutes are regulated by the body International Actuarial Association (IAA) – IAA is a worldwide association of local professional actuarial associations.
To become an Actuary from (IAI) (The Institute of Actuaries of India) one needs to clear the Actuarial Common Entrance Test (ACET). Once you clear it, your journey begins.
If you want to become an Actuary from IFoA (The Institute & Faculty of Actuaries, Uk) there is no entrance, one could start writing their exams directly.
How does one decide from which Institute to pursue Actuarial studies?
- Well, it’s a personal choice. Initially, most people opt for – Institute of Actuaries of India (IAI). However, many students from India pursue their Actuarial Studies from both – IAI and Institute & Faculty of Actuaries, Uk (IFoA).
- IAI adopts the same study material as IFoA (UK), except for practical papers. So, they both are the same.
- IAI conducts its exams 2 times in a year somewhere in March and Sept while IFoA conducts it 2 times in a year somewhere in April and end of Sept, so the dates never clash.
- When it comes to pursuing studies from the Society of Actuaries, US (SoA) or Casualty Actuarial Society, US (CAS) – very few people from India do their studies from CAS or SOA but there are some people I know who have attained their fellowship from CAS. So basically, if someone is working for US market from India as a consultant or has an interest in working in the US (though you could work in the US with qualifications from IAI / IFoA as well), then only one should go for CAS/ SoA in my opinion.
- You could move to any country with this qualification. There is a dearth of Actuary professionals in many countries, so many experienced professionals are able to relocate to other countries easily.
What is the total cost to be an Actuary from IAI and IFoA (UK)?
- Not as reasonable as CA papers from India but not as costly as CFA (US) papers or even professional degrees like an MBA.
- Considering I am writing every paper from IAI, it takes me around 5 years to complete it, to pass every single paper in one attempt and don’t spend anything extra on materials, it would cost me exactly around Rs 1,30,000.
- Expect double of this from (IFoA).
Where are IAI/IFoA exams conducted?
- You could select your city or nearby cities where exams are conducted by IAI or IFoA.
- Exams are conducted in multiple cities in India, not just Tier 1!
- Also, exams are conducted 2 times a year from both the institutes around March-April and September-October.
- As I mentioned earlier, people generally have membership from both institutes (IAI and IFoA), so suiting your needs, you could attempt different papers from a different institute or same paper twice (just to make sure you pass from either of them).
How many levels does an Actuary exam have from IAI?
As mentioned earlier, if you start from Indian Institute (IAI), you need to give an entrance test (ACET), which is not necessary with IFoA (UK).
The Institute of Actuaries of India (IAI) regulates the education & training of actuaries in India same way like ICAI for CA, India.
There are basically four parts in which our journey is divided into:
- Core Technical (CT-series): 9 set of papers
- Core Application (CA-series): 3 sets of papers
- Special Technical (ST-series): 2 set of papers (you choose according to your interest out of 9 available here)
- Special application (SA-series): 1 set of paper (you choose among 6 papers)
To become an actuary, you need to pass all the actuarial exams (15 of them!) and have 3 years of practical work experience.
Passing exams will require students to have application skills as just mugging up the study material will not make them pass exams (certainly not some of the higher level exams).
One shall have to study on his / her own. There are, though, some coaching institutes which provide coaching for actuarial subjects. But self-study is the best, coaching is not recommended.
What are the subjects in CT/CA/ST/SA?
- Actuaries are supposed to have knowledge of wider fields. I’ll just put the name of the CT papers and you would be able to relate what motive each paper serves, other papers you could check on http://www.actuariesindia.org
- In a single attempt, you could give a minimum of 1 paper and a max of 3 papers from IAI. You need to clear them independently to pass! There is no aggregation of marks or anything of that sort. It is very simple – Choose whichever paper you want in whatever order and keep clearing them individually.
- From next year our curriculum is changing, more technical skills are going to be included like R, Excel, and Machine Learning and total papers will be 13 (instead of 15) to become an Actuary.
- Actually, some papers in CT series are merging and there will be a total 7 from next year instead of the current 9 papers in CT! So, papers that would be merged are CT1 & CT5 and CT4 & CT6 and one should have cleared both before 2019 to gain an exemption.
Is internship necessary to become an Actuary?
- Once you clear all the 9 CT papers and all the 3 CA papers, that is 12 papers in total and with 1 year of min work experience you are eligible to become an Associate Member of the IAI.
- And once you clear all the 15 papers you can become a Fellow Member of the IAI. However, to become a Fellow member of the Institute one needs to have a min of 3 years of work experience.
- So there is no mandatory internship but to become a Fellow one needs a min of 3 years of work experience. So indirectly work experience is mandatory.
- Also, you can start your work experience after clearing 10 papers or 3 papers or whatever you decide – There is no rule.
- But ideally when one passes 3-5 papers, one should start looking for a job because for the higher papers you need job experience to understand the concepts as they are directly linked with real-life problems.
- Without getting practical experience, understanding the concepts of the papers is next to impossible.
How long does it take to be a Qualified Actuary?
How long can it take to clear all 15 papers? 5 -10 years, maybe.
So, yes it is not an easy course but there are quite a few who clear in 5 years as well.
Maybe when you start as a student (while in college) and have time to study, you could clear as many papers at most CT series.
Once you start working, your life cycle is to work for at least 10 hours and then come home and study for 3 hours, eat sleep and repeat!
Once you become an Actuary, life is better and shiny! But it takes a lot of hard work to reach there!
Even the brightest of minds go through several attempts before they become an Actuary. Failure is not a setback for us, it is a thing to understand the concept in a better way!
So in short to answer the question, if one clears everything in one attempt without any breaks then the quickest is say 5 years to become a qualified Actuary.
What are the various profiles available once qualified as an Actuary?
- As an intern, you could expect a minimum of INR 5k at least, though some companies give around 30-40k to interns as well. So, it depends on company to company and papers you have cleared, knowledge of them you possess, etc. However, as a fresher, 90% of the time, you are hired as an intern in a company.
- A newly qualified actuary today does not earn less than Rs.15 to 20 lakhs.
- The salary of experienced actuaries is much more.
- Actuarial students can expect to start their career with an annual package of anywhere between Rs.4 to 5 lakh.
- At the fresher level, as I said when you clear 5 papers or so one should technically apply for a job since the competition is tough to enter the industry, as teams are usually small and many companies don’t understand and recognize our work.
What is the role/job responsibilities of an Actuary?
If you say Actuary and someone knows about it, the first thing that would come to mind is the INSURANCE INDUSTRY (Life, Health, and General).
I work in the General insurance industry into pricing and reserving.
Actuaries ideally work in:
- Risk Management
- Employee Benefits valuation.
Actuaries work in insurance industries at a very high level, we are responsible for coming up with:
- Appropriate premium rates
- Reserving (Reserves are generally amount set aside by Insurance companies out of their profits for the future payment of losses, i.e., claims)
- Solvency of the insurance company.
- Our other area of work is the valuation of the company’s liability of Employee Benefit schemes, like Gratuity, Pensions, etc.
We also work on the investment side of things as Risk Managers, investment bankers.
So basically as an Actuary, we help:
- To bring out the best expectation from a business
- To judge if a particular business or product would be profitable or not
- When in a business you could expect profits
- What could be the losses
- To judge the probability of ‘Ruin’ of a company, analyzing the impact of a particular risk factor and how to deal with it.
Risk is our motto. Wherever there is a risk, there is an Actuary.
Actuaries from their knowledge and judgment are able to quantify most of the things that impact a product or business.
We could work anywhere where there is probability and no surety that is -Where there is RISK.
Do consulting firms Big 4 like PWC/KPMG etc have roles/job opportunities?
- Yes, they all have job opportunities for Actuaries.
- Actuaries work as consultants to the Big 4 clients and serve the same needs as any consultancy firm would require.
Consultancies role could be either in Insurance space, Employee Benefits valuation space, Investment Banking, Debt-Equity Analyses or Risk management services.
- Usually, the team is not that large in comparison to Tax/Audit teams, that’s why most people aren’t aware of job opportunities in Big 4’s for Actuaries.
Do Banks have in-house jobs for these Actuaries?
- Yes, they might have an in-house team.
- Banks could hire Actuaries to analyze their Investment portfolio, Debt-Equity analyses, etc.
Can an Actuary also start his/her own practice?
- Yes definitely, I was the first employee of my company and my boss started his own at the age of 26 and he is doing great!
- My boss is both a Chartered Accountant (CA) and a qualified Actuary.
Should Chartered Accountants pursue Actuary?
- Actuaries are multiple times better if they understand financials. So it is a great idea for Chartered Accountants (CA) to pursue this.
- Many CA’s are now having an interest in the Actuarial Profession.
- Since you guys already understand finance and if you have a zeal for numbers, this profession is for you!
Akshun Geetesh is currently working as an Actuarial Analyst with Lux Actuaries & Analytics LLP.
He graduated from the University of Rajasthan in BA (2017) with Statistics, Mathematics, and Economics and secured the first position in the university.