Trisha Daftary – Journey of 11 Actuarial exams in 7 diets
It gives us immense happiness to get an opportunity to interview one of the Aspiring Actuary, who has already cleared 11 actuarial exams (CT Series, SP7 7 CP2) in 7 exam diets with zero failure. Soon she’ll be a fellow Actuary – Ms Trisha Daftary (Actuarial Associate at Swiss Re). We asked her a few questions regarding our profession and here is her response to those questions.
1) What made you opt for Actuarial Science and what would have been your superpower if not Actuaries?
I’d always been good at Mathematics. After scoring a 100 in Board Mathematics paper I was advised by my school teacher to take up a profession in this domain. She told me about Actuarial Science and I got in touch with a senior who was pursuing it at that time. I read a little about the subjects from the websites of IFOA and IAI and after giving ACET. I was convinced that this is the way forward for me.
If not Actuarial Science, I’d have probably been a freelance writer as I relish writing and as such have written for my college magazine and also been an Editorial member of one of the societies back in college.
2) How long did it take for you to clear 11 actuarial exams, all in one go and what keeps you going throughout this journey?
It took me 7 diets to clear these 11 actuarial exams. What keeps me going through this journey is the dream that I’ve been helming since the last 4 years, the dream of becoming a fully qualified Actuary. I personally feel that every paper we study introduces us to an encyclopaedic landscape of learning which vehemently adds to our existing knowledge grid. Another motivation is to get done with the papers as soon as possible so that after a working week I don’t have to spend my weekends studying!
3) Actuarial Exams are like a never-ending process in our profession. So how did you manage clearing actuarial exams without hampering the work-life balance?
Well yes, in our profession is a lengthier one. So it’s important to unwind from time to time. Taking adequate breaks is important when studying for long hours so that you don’t feel saturated. I personally like travelling so try to go on trips whenever I get a chance and that helps me rejuvenate. I’ve been on 7 trips in the last one year! And even when I don’t have any specific plan to unwind I just sleep away my exhaustion!
4)What kind of work are you currently doing as an Actuarial Associate at Swiss Re?
At Swiss Re, I’m currently supporting the reserving and commutation Pricing functions. Reserving entails analyzing the triangulation data available at the portfolio level at regular intervals using various Actuarial techniques to come up with an estimate of the Ultimate level of loss. Commutation pricing is a niche area of reserving where we compute the prices of the business lines that need to be commuted (i.e. early settlement of liabilities). It’s a rapturous feeling to be able to translate my theoretical knowledge into real-world models and run them to try and predict the pecuniary future.
5)What are some of the technical skills (Software, Programming Languages etc..) that could help a budding Actuary to grow?
While the world is being inundated with a plethora of programming languages every day, it’s essential to keep abreast of some of these (VBA/R/SAS/Python/SQL to name a few) that are more conducive to enhancement in your area of work. One of my major focus areas of development is also analytics as I appreciate that it’ll help me adapt to the dynamism of the business functions.
6)Did you also face difficulty in landing up with an Actuarial job as a fresher? If yes, then how did you deal with it.
Yes, I did, in turn, face difficulty in finding a job after graduating out from college as I was already done with the CT actuarial exams but most roles that time corresponded to a slightly lower paper clearance. It wasn’t a very pleasant phase as there’d be this pang of fear flitting across my mind and making me think and rethink if I made the correct career choice. I, however, kept my cool and continued preparing for the job interviews and it wasn’t too long before I finally bagged a good placement.
7) What are your future plans in life?
I intend to clear my remaining 4 papers as soon as possible, clinch the fellowship title, continue to practice extensively in the General Insurance realm and be able to grow up to become a person who can contribute back to the society in whatever way possible as I believe in holistic development.
8) A piece of advice that you would like to give to all the budding actuaries out there.
In my personal opinion, I think it’s most imperative to understand the subject you’re studying. Your ability to crack things is a derivative of how pristine your concepts are. Also, it’s important to not let unwarranted external advice influence your decision to take or not take any exam. You’re in the best position to judge your own abilities.
9) It has been stereotyped that Actuaries work in the insurance sector. So would you like to enlighten us with some of the non-traditional roles where we can work? And how can one get started with these roles?
Until a few years ago actuarial roles were mostly restricted to the Insurance sector. However, the involvement of actuaries in other domains is now fast increasing. In fact, I believe it’s one of those very few courses that offer you a wide array of options from which to pick your specialization field.
You may specialize in General Insurance, Life Insurance, Pensions, Health Insurance, Investments, Enterprise risk management or even Financial Derivatives! When I started my career with the EY Actuarial team I interned in their investments team and got an opportunity to work on a couple of unconventional actuarial projects. So if you’re interested in any of the non-insurance roles than you should keep an eye out for such roles and in the meantime keep yourself abreast of the basic industry knowledge.
10) How Actuary as a profession helps you to grow as a person?
As a blooming actuary, you learn to be a lot more patient! You know for a fact that the journey is long and so recklessness won’t get paid off well. It also enables you to look at things from a lot of different perspectives, after all, that’s what we do at work – try to gauge the impact of different likely scenarios in order to manoeuvre through the uncertainty.
Thank you so much Trisha for taking out time from your schedule and sharing your experience with us. Wishing you luck for your future endeavours. May you achieve greater heights.