Masters in Actuarial Science from abroad is always a question of high doubt and discussion. To help you solve your doubts we have already published an article on Masters in Actuarial Science from abroad giving a brief about the factors you need to consider before pursuing masters in actuarial science from abroad.
To further help you in your process, We are publishing an Interview with Utsav Agarwal, who is currently pursuing Masters of Actuarial Practice at Macquarie University (world’s first university to launch this course). He has cleared CT series and would be graduated in the later 2019.
It’s always best to hear someone’s personal experience as it will give you a more holistic view of masters from abroad and would assist you to plan your future accordingly. This interview was conducted by Kislay Actuarial Education and has been reposted here with all the due permissions.
Also read: Top links to learn actuarial softwares
Q1. What made you pursue Masters in Actuarial Science as a career?
Ans: If I have to point out one then it would be the challenging and analytical aspect of the course. However, I believe that Actuarial Science is one of those streams through which we, as an actuary, can make an impact on society. By designing Life or GI products we ensure that the policyholder is safeguarded against unforeseen circumstances.
Q2. You have done two internships, namely from – TATA AIG and KOTAK Mahindra GI, how were you able to secure those internships and what did you learn from each of them?
Ans: In India, there are very few formal internship programs for Actuarial candidates, the best way to secure an internship was through networking. I used to reach out to actuarial people on LinkedIn and that’s how I was able to secure an internship. At TATA AIG, I learnt about the reporting of risk-based capital in the Asia-Pacific region and at Kotak Mahindra I was introduced to R and modelling of vehicle segmentation.
Q3. What is the basic process to enter into Macquarie University and why Macquarie for Masters in Actuarial Science?
Ans: It is a lesser known fact but MQ was the first university to introduce Actuarial Science course in the world. It is one of the topmost universities and has many experienced faculties. One-third of Appointed Actuaries in Australia are an alumnus of Macquarie. Apart from that, there are electives such as Data Mining and GLM which will help students in SAS, R, STATA and MATLAB.
The course commences from February and to apply you need to have a background in Finance, Statistics or Business. You should also have scored at least a distinction in your undergrad. The transcripts of your undergrad should be attached with ILETS score and a statement of purpose.
Q4. Would you recommend other students to pursue an MSc course instead of doing the exams on the job or does it not matter?
Ans: I would definitely recommend other students to pursue Masters in actuarial science after doing a couple of internships or after acquiring a year’s experience. There are two main reasons behind it –
Firstly, the course at MQ or any other university for Actuarial is way harder and more rigorous than the exam from the Institute. You will not only get a deep insight into the concept but also the guidance from professors. The professors have tremendous experience in their respective fields which does add value to the education.
Secondly, you will get more exposure in terms of case competitions, debates and other activities.
Q5. How easy is it to secure a Work Visa after completing such a course from an Australian University? Perhaps you can talk about any campus placement support as well.
Ans: There is a two-year temporary work visa which every international student is entitled to. After the completion of two years of degree. Although, there is no campus placement in Australia but there is a career fair organised by the university. All the insurance and consultancy companies have internship and graduate programmes through which you can secure a job.
However, getting a job is really competitive in the Australian market.
Q6. Which are the other Australian universities offer a course in Masters in Actuarial Science – perhaps you can name a few main ones?
Ans: The other Universities which offers masters in Actuarial science degree are Monash, University of Melbourne, ANU, UNSW and BOND.
Q7. Are there any pros and cons of studying in Australia over the UK as a lot of Indian students head to the UK for actuarial science courses?
Ans: The main advantage of Australia over UK is that it is easy to get a post study visa after completing your education in Australia. Unlike UK, in Australia you can stay for two years after completing your education on a temporary resident visa. Secondly, Australian Institute only has 13 exams which has been bifurcated into three parts.
Part1 is similar to IFoA, but Part 2 and Part3 are different. It is fair to say that the process to become a Fellow is shorter in Australian Actuaries Institute.
One of the cons is that there is not much of general acceptance for Australian Actuarial Institute in India. If you are not able to secure a job then it might be problem. Second, in terms of size the Australian Insurance market is smaller than UK.
Q8.What motivated you to pursue CFA along with your masters in Actuarial science and what benefit did you get?
Ans: I have always thought that I should diversify my skills and I was pretty interested in finance as well. Thus, I decided to pursue CFA. The curriculum of CFA has given me better understanding behind the financial aspects of a company. It should be also noted that in most of the developed markets, actuaries are hired by investment banks, credit and equity analyst firms as well. Thus, if I ever feel the need to switch my career then it will give me better options and will make the transition easy.
Q9. How do you keep yourself updated with new financial trends and gain insurance and actuarial knowledge?
Ans: It is very important to have a commercial awareness as an actuary. To keep myself updated regarding the advancement in the fields, I look up to Bloomberg, The Economist, Hindu, Economics Times. Even LinkedIn also keeps me informed regarding changing trend in the field. It doesn’t hurt to reach out to people on LinkedIn to get to know more about their work and seek their valuable insights.
Q10. What do you do besides learning for actuarial exams in your free time?
Ans: During my free time, I prefer reading books or watching series on Netflix.
Q11. What skills are required for actuarial students to become more employable?
Ans: As a fresher, it is really important to clear exams and have suitable technical skills. In addition to it, participating in the co-curricular activities also gives you an edge over other candidates.
Q12. What advice which you want to give to actuarial aspirants towards their actuarial journey?
Ans: If I have to give one advise then that would be that it is okay to fail and not succeed in your first attempt. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Second, you don’t have to figure everything out right now. Take some time, clear your head and let things run in its own course and everything will align itself in future.