The School of Mathematical Sciences (SMS) is committed to providing quality education for its graduates to be highly sought-after in the actuarial profession. Actuaries are constantly faced with the challenges of the ever-changing economic and financial landscape. Thus, there is a high demand for actuarial technical skills and knowledge to excel in this multifaceted career.
Acknowledging this need, SMS provides an additional professional workshop, named the Actuarial Practice Course (APC), offered exclusively for actuarial students. This intensive course emphasises hands-on work and assignments, which aim to produce employment-ready graduates for actuarial work.
The APC is conducted by the school’s in-house consulting actuary, Sophia Ch’ng, a fully qualified fellow actuary from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA). She has over 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, ranging from life insurance, general insurance, and takaful business to shared services. She has held several senior roles positions in various insurance companies, which include Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Appointed Actuary (AA), and Head of Product Pricing & Product Management. She has also served as the President of the Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM).
The syllabus of the APC is closely aligned with the industry's needs. It covers a wide range of topics including pricing and reserving for life, general and takaful business, reinsurance concepts, participating products features, capital management, risk-based capital (RBC) guidelines from BNM (Bank Negara Malaysia), and IFRS17 (International Financial Reporting Standards 17) guidelines.
Ms Sophia provided the participants with several hands-on assignments to illustrate how actual pricing and reserving calculations are performed. These assessments help students gain insights into what their future work would be like. Besides that, the course also covers various critical actuarial concepts, which include non-participating and participating products’ components, investment-linked products, pricing criteria, profitability assessments, asset share concepts, reinsurance methods, and takaful concepts.
In addition, students need to complete two presentations on insurance product research and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis for insurance companies. These research presentations allow participants to have a more in-depth understanding and knowledge of the insurance products in the market, as well as the background of the insurance companies that they aim to work for in the future.
Commenting on the APC, one of the participants, Gan Zi Tian, an Actuarial Analyst in the Modelling Team of AIA Bhd Actuarial Department remarked that by participating in APC, he was able to perform well during the job interview by answering all the technical concepts questions raised by the interviewers, such as concepts on pricing and reserving, capital management and investment-linked products.
Owing to his outstanding performance during the interview, he was offered a job offer directly during the interview session despite having no internship experience. He was glad that the technical skills and knowledge he gained from the APC had provided a great kickstart for his first job as an Actuarial Analyst in the field of Life Insurance.
He further elaborated that the topics covered during APC have provided him with solid basic knowledge and an overview that is very relevant to his current job scope, especially on topics like long-term pricing and reserving cashflows, risk-based capital (RBC) guidelines, bonus studies, and IFRS17 guidelines. He found these topics to be extremely useful in his job scope in handling modelling the Ordinary Life & Unit Linked portfolio, as well as in modelling the RBC and IFRS17. The fundamental concepts learned in APC have allowed him to better comprehend the critical concepts of the guidelines and actuarial concepts.
Another participant, Tay Choon Ming, who is currently employed as an Actuarial Analyst in the General Insurance Team of Actuarial Partners Consulting Malaysia added that the course offers a broad-ranging syllabus that allows its participants to cover topics outside the mainstream degree courses. He noted that although these topics can be learned through experience as interns or as fresh hire, he stressed the importance of acquiring this knowledge as early as possible, especially on General Insurance and its products, short-term reserving, and current issues with regards to the newly detariffed environment for the motor and fire products.
He also pointed out that the course would also indirectly improve one’s soft skills; communication, teamwork, and time management - amongst others - which would play a major role, especially when working in a team setting. He added that these skills build a person’s character, a quality that recruiters value as much as technical knowledge.
Ch’ng Sok Heang
School of Mathematical Sciences