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Four actuaries from South-East Asia tell their story

Four actuaries in South-East Asia tell us what inspired them to take on this challenging career and what they enjoy about being an actuary.

Chris Lim Shen: Senior Analyst, Singapore

Works for: JLT Re

Chris Lim ShenWhy did you decide to become an actuary?

Analytics is becoming increasingly central to the insurance business and insightful analytics advice often forms a cornerstone of successful insurance placement. My first role at JLT Re was a catastrophe analyst, modelling natural catastrophe exposures. I had to understand natural hazard risks, modelling techniques and model sensitivities, as well as insurance market practices. As during my role, I had a keen interest to gain further exposure in risk quantification and be more involved in the business aspects of insurance so becoming an actuary became a natural progression for me.

What do you enjoy in your role?

I work in a small team in a reinsurance broker and the scope of work can be very diverse. Given the backdrop of maturity in the data science field, the increasing sophistication of the insurance industry in Asia, and the shifting insurance regulatory regimes in the region, it is clearly an exciting time to be an actuary. I enjoy making sense of numbers, applying novel ways of solving problems, and the client-facing element as that requires me to put forward analytical advice and recommendations.

What advice would you give to students who are just about to embark on their career as an actuary?

The William Bruce Cameron quote, 'not everything that counts can be counted…” is especially true for actuaries. Actuaries spend a lot of time exploring data, crunching numbers and performing analyses. However, we function best when these are coupled with a broad (qualitative) understanding of their companies, clients and industries. The ability to deliver insightful and well-structured analyses is more important than ever in a world where we have so much data.

E-Lynn Tan: Assistant Manager, Financial Risk Management and Risk Assurance Services, Malaysia

Works for: PricewaterhouseCoopers 

E-Lynn TanWhy did you decide to become an actuary?

I've always had a passion for numbers and the stories that a simple set of figures might be able to tell. Being an actuary gives me an opportunity to have a clearer understanding of different industries and how the various elements within it are interrelated.

What do you enjoy in your role?

In this role, there has never been a dull day as there are various projects that I have been placed on. From these experiences, I have been able to learn a variety of new skills as well as further develop knowledge I already have. Besides that, being able to meet different people, be it clients or even colleagues, is another perk of this job.

What advice would you give to students who are just about to embark on their career as an actuary?

Always stay passionate in this journey you are about to embark on. It will be trying at times and require a lot of hard work, but with passion you will achieve your goal.

Albertus Teddy Setiadi: Director, Business Development Actuary, Singapore

Works for: Reinsurance Group of America (RGA)

Albertus Teddy SetiadiWhy did you decide to become an actuary?

My high school teacher, whose wife works as a manager of operations in a life insurance company, introduced me to the profession.

It promised decent pay and an ability to play a central role in managing the insurance industry by combining mathematical / statistical skills with business acumen.

As a young high school graduate who loves mathematics, the idea intrigued me and led me to pursue an actuarial course at university.

What do you enjoy in your role?

I enjoy getting exposure to strategic overviews in running both reinsurance and insurance business. This comes from various sales meetings with both senior internal and external stakeholders. It gives me insight on dynamic challenges in managing and running a successful company. Something I hope will be a handy skill one day in running my very own business.

I personally enjoy developing a positive working relationship with my clients. It gives me positive motivation when I am able to solve their problems and as a result, become their "first-to-go-to" contact. This makes my work feel more meaningful.

I also enjoy the opportunity to apply my technical actuarial skills to creatively deliver innovative solutions for my clients whilst ensuring robust risk management practice. I feel a sense of personal pride when I see this solution being applied and delivering meaningful value to the client, distribution channel and policyholders. Of course, in doing so, I enjoy being supported and working alongside my helpful colleagues from actuarial pricing, product development and underwriting departments.

What advice do you give to students who are just about to embark on their career as an actuary?

Keep your eyes on the end reward and use that as a drive to complete the exams. Personally, the reward that my high school teacher mentioned came true with a lot of other upsides as well, such as a sense of personal pride and satisfaction. I could only wonder what other exciting opportunities the career might bring given the role of ‘the actuary’ is likely to expand.

Charlotte Man Yin Shan: Senior Executive, Actuarial Pricing, Singapore

Works for: Prudential Assurance Company Singapore

Why did you decide to become an actuary?

During high school, my ambition was to become a doctor or a pharmacist. It was a popular choice among my fellow classmates. When I was studying A Levels in college, I came across this term – Actuarial Science - it was something new. All that we knew about this course was that it involves risk calculation, statistical analytics and probability simulation. I thought it was quite cool and challenging, so I did more research and then I became really interested. So, I embarked on my study of actuarial science at Heriot-Watt University, Scotland. In May 2015, I graduated with a first class honours degree and with eight full exemptions from the IFoA’s exams.

What do you enjoy in your role?

I started my career as a fresh graduate in the Prudential Assurance Company Singapore. My main portfolio is group business pricing and I have dealt with all kinds of tailor-made group business quotations. Most of the time, we have to ensure the competitiveness of our pricing, while making sure that it passes the financial requirement set by the Company and also Regulators. What I enjoy most in my role is that I can interact with different stakeholders and learn what part each role plays. As an actuarial graduate, I felt accomplished that we could use our strong numerical sense and fundamental analytical skills to add value to the whole organisation.

What advice would you give to students who are just about to embark on their career as an actuary?

Data science is emerging and the importance of the actuary will also continue to grow in this era as while the robot helps you to do the ground work you will still need expert judgement. So, if you think actuarial science is something for you, do it and don’t be afraid! Last but not least, one cannot deny the fact that an actuary can have both a personally rewarding and a well-paid career!

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Events calendar

  • ARC Sessional Research Event: Drivers of Mortality - Risk Factors and Inequality

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    6 January 2020

    Spaces available

    The authors will focus on a large dataset obtained from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) and related sources. Data are available at the level of Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) – small geographical areas with, typically, 1000-2000 residents and include death counts, exposures and a significant number of socio-economic variables including the index of multiple deprivation (IMD).

  • SIAS Event: My Journey to Data Science, Big Data and AI

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    7 January 2020

    Spaces available

    Patrick Lee is an actuary who has made the transition to working in software architecture and artificial intelligence (AI). He holds Microsoft Professional qualifications in Data Science, Big Data and AI and is currently working towards a DevOps (the automation of software testing and deployment) qualification. He is a member of the IFoA Council and is also President of the Wessex Actuarial Society. He is also a member of the IFoA and the RSS's joint Data Science Focus Group and will talk on the ethical use of AI. 

  • Spaces available

    This IFoA event for NEDs explores what skills and experience are required to undertake non-executive roles, e.g. as independent NEDs on fund boards or members of IGCs. The event will be chaired by Brandon Horwitz, an actuary who is a consultant and who has held various investment governance roles and who specialises in investment governance as well as being an iNED.

  • Spaces available

    This presentation covers the detail for how the matching adjustment is calculated. A small simple example spreadsheet is provided and discussed in detail.

    For actuaries wanting to get more involved with the matching adjustment, this is the opportunity to get a detailed description of the mechanics involved. This includes cashflows derisking, PRA tests as well as hypothecation.

    The presentation is provided by James Sharpe who has worked on a number of matching adjustment calculations with several firms.

  • IFoA Volunteer Recognition Reception

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6DR, UK
    15 January 2020

    Spaces available

    As a thank you to all our Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) volunteers, you are invited to join us at Staple Inn Hall, for an evening of drinks, canapes and networking, in London.

    IFoA President, John Taylor, will be attending and will make a speech

    If you support the IFoA as a volunteer (member or non-member), or in any other role, and you are going to be in London on 15 January, please book your place and join us at this reception.

     

  • Sessional Meeting - Operational Risk Dependencies

    Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 9 Queen St Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    20 January 2020

    Spaces available

    The Operational Risk Working Party aims to assist actuaries and others in the modelling and management of operational risk. One of the key challenges in modelling operational risk is the modelling of dependencies between operational risks, and between operational and non-operational risks such as market, credit and insurance risk.

  • KSS event in Glasgow: Public Sector Pensions

    Hymans Robertson, Glasgow 20 Waterloo St, Glasgow
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • KSS event in Stirling: Public Sector Pensions

    M&G Prudential, Stirling Craigforth Campus, Stirling
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • KSS event in Edinburgh: Public Sector Pensions

    Hymans Robertson 1, Exchange Place, Semple St, Edinburgh
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • The Great Risk Transfer – Breakfast briefing and launch event

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7QJ
    31 January 2020

    Spaces available

    Launch of the IFoA’s 2020 thought leadership campaign The Great Risk Transfer. The campaign will examine the trend of the transfer of risk from institutions to individuals, and how people can be better equipped to manage the financial risks they now face. At this breakfast event the IFoA will launch a call for evidence on this topic.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (11 February 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    11 February 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Sessional: Impact of E-cigarettes Working Party

    Royal College of Physicians, 9 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    24 February 2020

    Spaces available

    This sessional meeting will be of direct interest to actuaries and others working in the in the Health and Care, Life or Pensions sectors or indeed actuaries with an interest in morbidity or mortality. Note: Registration is from 17.30 in time for the sessional to begin at 18.00.

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (25 February 2020)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    25 February 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • What does this mean for Actuaries serving as NEDs and Trustees? These areas are likely to provide ne

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London. WC1V 6DR, UK
    19 March 2020

    Spaces available

    Recent years have seen ESG, Climate Change, and Responsible Investing thrust onto the corporate agenda in every boardroom. The same also be said for pension funds. Expectations of how companies should respond are high and NEDs on Boards are expected to adapt and adjust their guidance to companies accordingly. What does this mean for Actuaries serving as NEDs and Trustees?

  • Spring Lecture 2020, Edinburgh - Vicky Pryce

    Assembly Rooms, 54 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2LR
    25 March 2020

    Spaces available

    What next in Economic Policy?

    Please join us on 25 March 2020 for our annual Spring Lecture presented by Vicky Pryce in Edinburgh. 

  • IFoA Asia Conference 2020, Kuala Lumpur

    CCEC Nexus, 7, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    24-25 June 2020
    Spaces available

    The sixth annual Asia Conference once again offers a prestigious line-up of home and international speakers discussing the insurance and financial industry’s innovation and change in Asia. This year's conference in Kuala Lumpur will be hosted by Tan Suee Chieh, IFoA’s first Asian President. He will also make his Presidential address at this conference and will expand on the important elements of IFoA’s new strategy. 

    Additionally, this landmark conference will showcase how the IFoA is reinventing itself to support its members to succeed and thrive in a digital age, within traditional businesses and beyond, as a global organisation. 

    Not to be missed by international industry players, opinion formers, academic and industry leaders, actuaries and non-actuaries.