Financial Prophets


With the increasing demand for actuaries, Sean Sequeira finds out what an actuary does and what it takes to be one

Are you someone who is fascinated by the future? Not in the Star Wars and Terminator kind of way, but the simpler things of how businesses would get back on track after Hurricane Sandy was done destroying whole cities; or, breaking it down even further, how would your neighbour manage her livelihood after her husband, who was the bread winner of the family, has passed away? If you also have a penchant for finance along with a curiosity for the future, then one of the  best career options waiting for you may be as an actuary.

What does as Actuary do?
Actuaries are the guys that make financial sense of the future. An actuary will analyse the past, create a model for the future and assess the risks involved to convert what the future holds into financial terms. An actuary will work as an advisor to the decision-making process by taking into account the risks involved in making a decision and plotting a plausible path that the future may take in a financial capability.

What are the Skills Needed to be an Actuary?
Apart from spending hours staring at books to prepare for exams, a person needs to have a few key professional skills as well as some personal traits that will help them be successful in their actuarial career.
The professional skills rank as follows:

• Specialised maths knowledge in calculus, statistics and probability
• Keen analytical, project management and problem solving skills
• Good business sense in finance, accounting and economics
• Solid oral and written communication skills
The personal skills required for the job are:
• Self-motivation
• Creativity
• Independence
• Ability to work with others
• Ambition
You will also need to have a strong foundation in basic computer skills which will require you to formulate spreadsheets, operate statistical analysis programmes and work with programming languages.

What fields does an actuary work in?
An actuary will work on problems in finance, risk management and product design to put their skills into effect in areas of insurance, pensions and investment. Recently, there is a need for actuaries in such fields as project management, banking and health care. The actuary will be responsible for designing and pricing products like insurance policies. They’ ll also perform functions related to financial management and corporate planning. Actuaries are directly or indirectly involved in the overall management of insurance companies and pension, gratuity and other employee benefit funds schemes. They have important roles to play when it comes to drafting insurance and employee benefit schemes as well in government-sponsored social insurance.
How to I become an Actuary?
To become an actuary, you need to be a registered member of the Institute of Actuaries of India (IAI). In the initial stage, you need to have a minimum qualification of 10+2 to appear for the entrance exam which is called Actuarial Common Entrance Test (ACET). Upon clearing the entrance test, you can register with the IAI as a student member and appear for the actuarial examinations. To be classified as a Fellow member of the IAI, you need to clear a total of 15 subjects. You will also need a minimum of three years of relevant experience to be a qualified actuary.

ACET Date For 2013


First Exam

Second Exam


1 Mar to 7 May

14 Aug to 24 Oct

Exam Date

14 – 15 June

6 – 7 Dec

Result Date

26 June

18 Dec


What is the Condition of the Industry at the Moment?
To find the answer to this question, we contacted accomplished actuary Mr Khushroo Dastur for an insider opinion:

What opportunities lie ahead for someone starting as an actuary? Starting out as an actuarial student one does fairly routine work at first. Once hired, actuaries are encouraged to finish their examinations to attain an associate level designation first and then a fellowship (fully qualified) designation. Some fully qualified actuaries may rise to the top managerial jobs such as vice president. Others may take up roles in consultancies. Fully qualified actuaries are highly ranked with a great deal of responsibility. Salaries can vary widely especially depending on the qualification level and also experience. Actuaries are generally better paid within the industry compared to their peers in other fields.

Which field of actuary do you see maximum growth in the near future?
Traditionally actuaries worked in Life Insurance, General Insurance, Pensions or  Health & Care with reinsurance being a part of each of these fields. More recently, the role of the actuary has widened to include roles in Finance & Investment, Enterprise Risk Management and Solvency II. More and more financial companies are starting to realise the skill and value an actuary can add to the business and this is opening up doors within banks and other financial  companies too.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking of entering the profession?
Try and pass the first few exams while in college. First, you’ ll be able to judge the difficulty level of these exams. Second, you’ ll be more fluent with the material, and third, because most employers now expect you to have passed a few exams  when you apply. Try to continue passing exams quickly while working. It will help advance your career, give more flexibility with jobs/ assignments and you’ll have less time for study later in life as responsibilities increase both at work and home.


Volume 2 Issue 10


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