In our series to interview actuarial professionals with varied achievements, this time we got a chance to bring onboard Miss Tanvi Doshi, who has managed to clear all her exams just at the age of 23, all in the first attempt. Currently working as Senior Associate at HDFC Life. She has also been awarded Employee of the quarter AMJ’2019. She has been a brilliant student from her school itself.
From topping CT4, CT5, CT7, CP1, ST2, SP6 from IAI to scoring highest in the university in accountancy, final year BCom, she left no stone unturned in her academics.
It’s a great feeling for us to have such a talented and young actuary with us.
TAC: When and why did you choose actuarial science as your career? What is the most interesting aspect of actuarial science as a profession?
Tanvi: Being a commerce graduate, every other student in my college had an ambition of becoming a Chartered Accountant. In fact, my college, R. A. Podar is called “CA factory”. My father and my elder sister, both R. A. Podar graduates are CAs. In my second year of junior college, I was certain that I didn’t want to follow the herd and pursue CA and hence, the dilemma – what else then! This is when one of my teachers organised a guest lecture on career guidance and I was introduced to Actuarial Science. Having always had a liking for mathematics and Statistics, I was fascinated to hear that actuaries can analyse, assess and quantify risks using statistical techniques. It hit my head and I was very firm that I want to be an Actuary.
As Actuaries, we make financial sense of the future. We project various possible financial outcomes and help make informed decisions. Also, every day at work is not the same for an actuary. Usually, there is something challenging to deal with which keeps us on our toes. All these make Actuarial Science interesting as a profession.
TAC: Tell us briefly about your current role at HDFC Life?
Tanvi: I currently work in the Pricing Team of the Actuarial Department. My role mainly includes new product research, development and pricing. Analyzing the requirement of various stakeholders for the new product, competition analysis, sensitivity and risk analysis are the main areas of my work.
Modification of existing products to changing conditions are equally important as new products. Hence, we monitor and re-price existing products as and when needed. For example, annuity products need to be repriced due to changes in yields.
All new products need to be approved by the regulatory authority – IRDAI. We file all products with them and respond to their queries.
Summarising my role in one statement – “Product development to fulfil various needs of customers and determine prices based on calculated risks.”
TAC: Moving towards the big question. What motivated you to clear all the exams so early and in the first attempt itself? What are the advantages of clearing exams so early?
Tanvi: After clearing ACET, my goal to be an Actuary seemed too far off with 15 levels to clear. However howsoever big a task, it starts with a small step. I registered for CT1 and CT7 and the results came with a surprise as I was unexpectedly among the list of students securing the highest marks. This motivated me all the more to leave no stone unturned to clear all my exams in the first attempt. Also, I believe in the saying “Whatever you want is within your effort zone and outside your comfort zone.” This always kept me motivated.
Till the time I was appearing for my exams, my weekly schedule would be like – office from Monday to Friday and study time on weekends. Clearing exams at an early age helps you get free time, spend time on your hobbies, focus more on your professional life and attain a balance between professional and personal life.
TAC: You have achieved a lot in a short period. From clearing so many exams so early, topping some of them, topping the university exams, and even teaching students actuarial subjects. Personally, I struggle a lot in managing my time. What is the secret behind being able to manage so much at once?
Tanvi: Time is never short. The key is not in spending time but investing it. I believe in quality studying rather than quantity studying. Quality studying i.e. studying with 100% concentration just takes you half the time it would have taken otherwise. I always tried to practise quality studying which spared me time for other activities.
The key is not in spending time but investing it
Also, I always got my concepts clear, never moved ahead before getting clear the concept I didn’t understand. I also used to prepare schedules and make sure that I adhere to it. At the same time, I used to spare time for my hobbies i.e. guitar and singing as they used to rejuvenate me and help me study better.
TAC: Do you feel that clearing many exams during your graduation becomes a hurdle in your job search? Did you face any difficulty while searching for your first job?
Tanvi: I personally don’t feel that clearing many exams during graduation becomes a hurdle in the job search. In fact, clearing exams help you apply your book knowledge practically on your job. I had cleared CT series (9 levels) during my graduation. But that wasn’t a barrier in the job search. The catch here is that clearing exams don’t give you practical experience and hence, you will be placed at a similar level as a person with lesser number of exams cleared as both have similar work experience.
In my opinion, practical work experience helps you clear the papers after the CT series as you can relate to what you have worked on and apply those concepts. Hence, I recommend appearing for these papers after having some work experience. This is just my personal opinion.
TAC: What would be your advice for young budding actuaries who are still in their college? What are some things that they must do now so that they graduate with a strong foundation to build their actuarial career upon?
Tanvi: Perseverance and hard work for 5 years during young age forms the foundation and sets your life ahead. So I would suggest all budding actuaries to stay focussed and manage their time properly. I would like to quote a dialogue from the movie ‘3 Idiots’ which I feel everyone should follow – “Don’t run after success. Run after excellence, success has no option but to run after you.” I would also suggest investing time in learning coding languages be it VBA, R programming, SQL etc and be tech-savvy.
All-round development is essential and so, participation in extra-curricular activities is equally important. I suggest students to be a part of the college forums of their interest may it be Cultural forum, Literary forum etc and also be actively involved in college fests. It helps you build leadership qualities and people skills. This will help them succeed in life whatever career they choose.
All-round development is essential and so, participation in extra-curricular activities is equally important.
TAC: What changes are you observing in the insurance industry especially in the case of India? Do you see a substantial increase in the demand for actuarial professionals in the coming 5-10 years?
Tanvi: In my opinion, India is currently under-insured. In the case of life insurance, there is a huge protection gap in India. Lack of insurance awareness is one of the major reasons – people find insurance confusing, complicated and difficult to understand. All this at the same time provides a huge scope for the insurance sector to grow, to capture the untouched market. In fact, insurance companies have started adopting various ways like websites, mobile apps etc. to reach the audience. Insurtech is the new era in insurance. It is transforming insurance through innovation. All these seem to increase the demand for actuarial professionals in the years to come.
Currently, the scope for actuaries seems to be restricted to insurance and employee benefits in India. However, actuaries can analyse the financial costs of risk and uncertainty be it any industry. So, in my opinion, new avenues will open for actuaries in India – be it finance and investment, banking or even valuation of loyalty points we get when we go shopping.
So, in my opinion, new avenues will open for actuaries in India – be it finance and investment, banking or even valuation of loyalty points we get when we go shopping.
TAC: Since you are done with your actuarial exams so early, what are you planning next?
Tanvi: After a 5 years long journey of clearing actuarial exams, I wish to apply the knowledge I have gained and grow professionally in the field of Actuarial Science. I would like to create awareness about the importance of insurance, contribute to insurance growth in India in whatever manner I can.
Personally, I help students understand what Actuarial Science is and the steps to build a career in it and create awareness about the course. I also help clear doubts of aspiring actuaries.
Also, I would like to explore my lost hobbies of classical singing and spend quality time with my family.
TAC: How do you upskill yourself? What are the skills that you are learning currently?
Tanvi: A lot of skills are learnt on the job, soft skills, planning, time management etc. My job requires interaction with various other non-actuarial teams which helps me build people skills. I am also learning to gauge the importance of things and prioritise the most important ones. My job has helped me develop hard skills too, one of them being coding. I had also taken VBA sessions for one of the non-actuarial teams in the company and I believe – “To teach is to learn twice over.”
To upskill myself, I always self-introspect, observe other people, learn from them, read etc. I believe in the slogan – “Everyone is continuously learning consciously or sub-consciously.”
TAC: What are your interests? What do you like to do to clear your mind?
Tanvi: I like music and dance. I used to learn Indian Classical Singing which has been one of my hobbies. Music rejuvenates my mind. In fact, I used to play the guitar before going for exams. It would make me stress-free and relax my mind.
I usually sing or work out to clear my mind. I practice yoga and meditate sometimes to calm my mind.
Thank you so much, Tanvi for taking out time from your schedule and sharing your experience with us. Many congratulations on becoming a young actuary and inspiring a lot of actuarial students. Feel free to connect with Tanvi on LinkedIn! Wishing you luck for your future endeavors. May you achieve greater heights.
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