The Many Faces of General Insurance Candidates

Candidates pursuing the Society of Actuaries (SOA) General Insurance track come from all over the world with a wide array of educational, cultural and professional backgrounds. What makes someone pursue an actuarial career, and then specialize in property and casualty is as varied as the candidates themselves.

These are the stories of some of the SOA General Insurance candidates, where they came from, what made them pursue the designation and their advice for others going through the process.

Achille Sime, FSA, CERA, MAAA, FIAF

The first candidate to complete the General Insurance track, Achille Sime, FSA, CERA, MAAA, FIAF, started his journey in Africa, completed his actuarial college education in France and eventually landed in the United States, where he decided to pursue the SOA General Insurance track.

Sime’s decision to achieve the General Insurance FSA was dictated by his job requirements. When he moved from France to Miami to work for PartnerRe Global in 2005, the company switched from being a branch office to being a U.S. insurance company. “I needed to get U.S. credentials because there is no reciprocity between France and the United States,” he explains.

One of the features Sime enjoyed about the General Insurance track was that the Ratemaking and Reserving exam was combined, he also appreciated that the modules had practical applications. “The Applications of Statistical Techniques (AST) Module provided good knowledge of advanced business analytics techniques with particular emphasis on practical application and the use of R software,” he notes.

Although achieving the credential was not an easy task, Sime had this solid advice to give to candidates going through the process. “Don’t give up because it’s frustrating sometimes. Take a step back and have the necessary courage to come back.”

 

Gennady Stolyarov II, ASA

With a triple major in Economics, Mathematics and German, Gennady Stolyarov II, ASA, found his calling for the actuarial profession when he started considering options for graduate studies. “The actuarial field was attractive to me due to the merit-based, self-study-oriented examination system, as well as the ability to “earn while you learn” – to simultaneously invest in one’s education while maintaining a high standard of living and avoiding educational debt,” he explained in a recent article for the SOA.

His decision to focus on Property and Casualty insurance was based on his concerns for the future. “I selected a property and casualty specialization due to my interest in the role these insurance products can play in maintaining the material infrastructure of civilization and helping individuals recover from financially crippling events brought about by natural and some manmade perils,” Stolyarov explains.

Stolyarov found the SOA General Insurance track particularly attractive because of its emphasis on exposing candidates to the most current and relevant resources for actuarial science. “The extensive use of online modules and the focus on applying the tools of the electronic age are immense points in the SOA General Insurance Track’s favor,” he notes.

When it comes to preparing for the exams, Stolyarov has some very practical advice. “Make sure you read each syllabus paper several times and dissect key ideas into memorable segments that can then be expressed in a question-and-answer format,” he explains. “Use a variety of study techniques to keep the information fresh in your mind. Simple memorization creates anchors in your mind that can render the application of a skill more instantaneous.”

 

Kai Huang, ASA, CERA

Based in Singapore, Kai Huang, ASA, CERA, chose the actuarial field as a logical extension of his major. “I majored in mathematics and wanted to start my career in a field where mathematical knowledge could be applied,” Huang explains.

Huang applied and was admitted to Fudan-AIA actuarial center, which helps students prepare for their SOA preliminary exams. His decision to pursue the General Insurance track was solidified while he was going through the exam process. “I decided to work in the Property and Casualty side after two years of actuarial science master study,” Huang recalls. “In 2013, when the SOA announced the General Insurance track to Fellowship, I was finalizing my FAP module, so it was an easy decision for me to continue with the SOA’s General Insurance track.”

Huang found the support of his employer a key element helping him through the process. He was allowed time off to study, paid exam fees, an allowance for textbook expenses and incentives on achievement.

Huang’s advice for other candidates is simple. “For General Insurance track candidates, note that it is equally important to understand and memorize the material, to be able to do the calculations correctly within a short period of time,” he recommends. “Follow step by step the examples provided in the textbook and plan out the whole preparation early enough and try to follow the schedule as much as possible.”

Visit the SOA General Insurance track landing page for industry news, information about the designation and resources.

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