Major Insights: Actuarial Studies

Business School

Major Insights: Actuarial Studies- An Interview with Samuel Ting and Will Qu

By Rui Zhang


What is actuarial studies?

Actuarial studies is a degree where students learn and apply mathematical, statistical and financial analysis to evaluate and manage risk. There are traditional roles such as insurance companies and consulting firms. However, there is an increase in non-traditional roles such as banking, government, energy and more. Therefore, an actuarial degree can take you anywhere and create a great impact in different sectors of society.

How extracurricular has enhanced their university experience

UNSW Business society former Treasurer and Competitions director, Samuel Ting relates his experience in how extracurriculars provide both hard and soft skills. He learnt many soft skills in the Business Society such as “working well with lots of people, how to have grit during tough times, what [his] own weaknesses were and more,” which he continues to develop today. Moreover, Sam had also learnt hard skills as “Investing for Charity taught me how to perform a Discounted Cash Flow valuation” and he also spent time applying “Bayesian statistics to a risk management application in trading using R and this was what got me a statistics internship” at the UN. However, he does note that “extra-curricular do not GUARANTEE internships and interviews… but certainly do increase your chances.” Sam’s recommendation is that even if you’re not in a society you should “always look for other opportunities which may be just as valuable and may even give you that unique edge that employers are looking for!”

What Sam enjoyed about studying actuarial studies

Sam also provides us on his favourite experiences in studying actuarial which were “coding in R and learning about the statistics that have been applied to the Actuarial field and how people have applied mathematics to model the human lifespan to catastrophes such as floods.” Finally, he also enjoys this degree due to the people, with great memories in “the Actuarial Society from the first-year camp, Actuarial Ball and having great peer mentors” and the friends he has made along the journey that have supported him and will be close friends even after graduation.

What does working as an actuarial consultant look like and the further developments in this industry

Will Qu, UNSW graduate and actuary on the EY general insurance team reflects on the experiences he had acquired in this ever-changing industry. Firstly, Will enjoys his work due to the “many challenges that pop up during work – but that’s exactly why [he] loves it.” However, he notes that “not all issues are exciting to work with (e.g. receiving client data that is riddled with errors …and you’re in charge of cleaning it).” Though actuaries do still work on impactful projects as Will shows that he had projects “related to bushfire modelling and COVID-19 modelling to provide insights to clients, such as the Australian government.” Therefore, actuaries work across a range of impactful projects. 

Furthermore, as technology is constantly developing, many jobs are changing, and the actuarial field is no exemption either. Will states that with this new technology, “manual aspects of work and everyday life will be disrupted which will likely result in more focus on innovation and decision-making”. However, Will has also revealed that “certain functions will be lost (such as data processing), but this will equally allow for more sophisticated models to be developed and better insights to be found.” Furthermore, there are new areas in the actuarial field as Will shares with us “the development of driverless vehicles and drones, will significantly change the understanding of how the industry operates.” Therefore, with the new technology, it will change the role but also introduce new tasks for actuaries.

Study Tips For Current UNSW Students

Our alumni also provide some tips for studying. Sam tells us that studying all comes down to time management and efficient study methods. Sam’s tip for time management “is to get a calendar and list all your due dates. By revolving your life around this calendar, you will never miss a deadline, will always know ahead of time what you need to do and can organise your time accordingly”. Furthermore, Sam suggests that “you want to get to the problem-solving part as fast as possible rather than spending all your time just memorising the concepts.” 

Meanwhile, Will shares tips on balancing commitments as he points out “the challenge isn’t in learning the content (you’re all capable of that), but rather to effectively balance your studies and other important things.” Moreover, we should “reach out to your peers, lecturer/tutor, or societies if [we] need support.” To put it simply, Will would like to end it at “the road shouldn’t be a lonely one!”

Professional Accreditation and UNSW Courses

The Actuarial Institute is the professional body which represents and oversees all actuarial educational programs in Australia. The program contains three parts: Foundation Program (formerly Part 1), Actuary Program (formerly Part II) and Fellowship Program (formerly Part III). To pass each of these parts, the student has to pass external exams however UNSW provides accredited courses which means by obtaining a mark, 65+ for Foundation and 75+ for Actuary program, in accredited courses you will get exempt. However, it is not necessary to complete all the exemption courses to obtain an actuarial degree. Moreover, the university only provides half of the Actuary program.

For a guide and information on UNSW exemption policies please click “here”. For more information on the second half of the Actuary Program and the Fellowship program click “here”. For more information on other careers please read the BSOC Careers Guide.

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