With far too many complexities lingering around the world, thanks to Covid-19 crisis, managing the risks of a business by correctly analysing predicted patterns has become much more significant.
Life is full of unpredictability and uncertainty, so is business. Hence, contingencies for unanticipated calamities need to be prepared. This is where an actuary steps in.
Actuaries are business professionals who help in the assessment, measurement and management of risk and uncertainties surrounding business. This science of managing risks using mathematical and statistical techniques is called Actuarial Science.
Since actuarial science is a specialised field of study that deals with predicting and averting risks, the demand for actuaries is increasing considerably.
“An actuary comprehensively utilises the knowledge of mathematics, finance, statistics to analyse various aspects of an organisation's financial risks to make prudent business decisions. They hold the business world together with their analytical and statistical superpowers,” says Mr Fahim Islam, director of the Product and Strategy Department, MetLife Bangladesh.
Actuary is seemingly becoming a highly sought-after profession. This is now globally practised and a discipline that has been taught in all the renowned global universities.
Afrin Haque, a senior executive of MetLife Bangladesh shared her opinion on actuary remarking it as a ‘need’ for the corporate community.
“Actuarial degree is globally recognised and it is in fact among the top 10 highest paid professions around the world. It has high demand all over the world and has broad recognition in the corporate community as it is of great importance to the business globe.”
However, becoming an actuary is pretty difficult and a real daunting task. One needs to have a strong understanding of business and a solid foundation in mathematics and finance to become a member of the actuarial society. The choice depends on an individual's potential and career objectives.
Against the global demand for actuary, it is rather unfamiliar in Bangladesh. And those who do know actuary, know how this can make a difference.
Farhan Ahmed, a final year BBA student at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) sees it as an opportunity out of the box. He considers actuary to be a diverse career path compared to traditional ones, hence, aspires to become one.
“I like mathematics, enjoy problem-solving and studying at my own pace on my own terms. So I want a job that would make use of my mathematical skills, be interesting and not have crazy hours. An actuarial job provides all these facilities.”
Love for numbers and complex problem-solving ability is the first step towards becoming an actuary. Of course, hard work and dedication are needed along with ability. Getting enrolled in a good institution is equally important. Institute of Actuaries of India (IAI), Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA), UK, Society of Actuaries (SoA), USA, are some of the most prominent names in this field.
Anyone can easily register in any of these organisations through their official websites from Bangladesh. All actuarial academic institutions have minimum eligibility for passing the 12th Standard/HSC. So, one can start pursuing actuaries right after college.
However, it’s better and easier to pursue it after graduation because one needs to have a solid foundational knowledge of econometrics and statistics. So majoring in statistics, economics, finance gives an edge in this field.
The course study involves applying mathematical and statistical methods that are related to business management and insurance problems, quantitative and non-quantitative risk management, forecasting theory, expansion of risk tables, computer-assisted research, secondary data analysis, economic risks in the business sector as well as insurance field.
So, what do the actuaries really do? Simply put, they play with numbers. They analyse different types of data to calculate and manage risks. Actuaries are the masterminds behind insurance policies. They scrutinise facts, figures, and trends to formulate various insurance programmes and help companies to formulate efficient policies to protect themselves from uncertain and undesirable future events.
From assessing risk for the financial planning to designing financial policies and monitoring the funds in the company, actuaries do all. Actuaries are required and in demand in any field where risk is involved, including banking, insurance, healthcare, and even non-financial areas.
Most actuaries work at insurance companies and they must ensure that the premiums are profitable yet competitive with other insurance companies. They work cross-functionally with other departments such as finance, accounting, and marketing.
One can also hold managerial roles in the domain of actuarial science. An MBA in Insurance or Actuarial Science will give the expertise to manage insurance and risk projects and ensure their smooth functioning.
An actuary can even work as a consultant and advice companies in multiple areas such as taxation, employee benefits, risk management, investment, etc.
Pros and cons
Actuary involves dealing with multiple disciplines and usage of diverse skills. It gives the opportunity to showcase creativity using available data and make high profit. Nevertheless, heavy workload and little room for error make it a difficult job as well.
The demand for qualified actuaries is much higher than their availability. A handsome salary is another factor. Hence, with the high growth potential of the insurance sector in Bangladesh, career prospects for trained actuaries are bright.
Saif Rahman, head of communications at MetLife Bangladesh put forward some numbers to indicate the potential.
“Currently in Bangladesh, there are approximately 33 life insurance and 46 non-life insurance companies with a few actuaries against the number that is actually required. Hence, the young generation can take advantage of this actuarial profession and maximize their potential.”
Nayeem Chowdhury is a final year student, pursuing his major in Finance from Shahjalal University of Science and Technology.