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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

  • Pensions Conference 2019

    Bristol Marriott Hotel City Centre, 2 Lower Castle Street, Old Market, Bristol, BS1 3AD
    18-19 June 2019
    Spaces available

    Five plenaries and 13 workshops cover current topics and industry trends in the Pension sector with the opportunity to develop your network at the pre-conference evening dinner (18 June).  There is also a day ticket option available for the 19 June. 

  • KSS event – FinTech and The Actuarial Profession

    EY, Atria One, 144 Morrison Street, Edinburgh
    19 June 2019

    Spaces available

    This KSS talk from FinTech Scotland's CEO will explore the mission to create an integrated Fintech ecosystem through provision of funding, support, infrastructure and talent that recognises and responds to the needs of all stakeholders - and the overarching aim for Scotland to be one of the top 5 Fintech global leaders by 2020.

    To book your place, please email Barry_Shannon@standardlife.com 

  • Current Issues in General Insurance (CIGI) 2019

    Inmarsat, 99 City Road, London, EC1Y 1BJ
    19 June 2019

    Fully booked.

    CIGI is a well-established one-day seminar designed to increase awareness and encourage discussion on a variety of topical issues across the general insurance industry. 

    There will be an excellent and diverse line-up of speakers to provide a variety of perspectives and challenge covering technical and professional areas. 

  • Cass Event – New Thinking about Deferred Annuities

    Cass Business School, Executive Education Facilities 200 Aldersgate St, London EC1A 4HD
    25 June 2019

    Spaces available

    Our motivation for discussing this important subject comes from some exciting recent research which has analysed the impact of behavioural factors on the decision to purchase an annuity. This work has shown that behavioural factors can explain the well-known low demand for immediate annuities but this research also identifies an important opportunity in relation to deferred annuities (DA). The research suggests that these factors lead to positive incentives to purchase a DA and that, for longer deferred periods, a DA could be an attractive product for both consumers and insurers.

  • IFoA/SAS Joint Professional Skills Training – Singapore

    Room 903, NTUC Centre, Level 9, One Marina Boulevard, Singapore 018989
    25 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and Singapore Actuarial Society (SAS) are organising a joint Professional Skills Training (PST) in Singapore. This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Life, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Webinar Series: Risk and Investment Conference 2019, 26 June

    These are online webinar events.
    26 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The IFoA’s Risk Management and Finance and Investment Boards are delighted to host a series of webinars covering a range of topical and trending topics ranging from climate related risks to Brexit.

  • AGM and Presidential Address 2019 + Volunteer and Member Drinks Reception

    The Hub  Castlehill Edinburgh EH1 2NE
    26 June 2019

    Spaces available

    Notice is hereby given that the ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the INSTITUTE AND FACULTY OF ACTUARIES will be held at The Hub, Edinburgh on Wednesday 26 June 2019 at 16.30 (Preceded by tea from 16.00) and followed by a PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS given by John Taylor.

  • IFAM event - Actuarial Teachers’ & Researchers’ Conference 2019

    Institute for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics Department of Mathematical  Sciences The University of Liverpool Mathematical Sciences Building Peach Street Liverpool, L69 7ZL
    27 June 2019 - 29 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics (IFAM) at the University of Liverpool is pleased to host the 2019 Actuarial Teachers’ and Researchers’ Conference from 27-28 June 2019. This annual two-day event has been running annually now for many years, each time hosted by a different university, and provides all those interested in actuarial research and education a great opportunity to share their ideas and catch up on the latest developments.

  • IFoA/ASM Joint Professional Skills Training – Kuala Lumpur

    Menara AIA, Auditorium, 99 Jalan Ampang, 50450, Kuala Lumpur
    28 June 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM) are organising a joint Professional Skills Training (PST) in Kuala Lumpur. This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Life, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • SIAS: The Impact of Air Pollution on Health and Life Expectancy

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    2 July 2019

    Spaces available

    Air pollution has gained increasing attention lately. Nicola Oliver, head of longevity and mortality research for Medical Intelligence, will discuss not only the impacts of air pollution on health and life expectancy but also how as an industry we should be addressing it.

  • Spaces available

    The actuarial profession has much to offer the world of banking. In this webinar actuaries with experience in various fields of banking will talk about the opportunities there are in banking; describing the actuarial aspects of the work they do as well as other roles within their area of banking.

  • Implications of 2019 IFRS 17 Exposure Draft

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    24 July 2019

    Spaces available

    Towards the end of June, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is expected to publish an Exposure Draft (ED) of limited changes to its insurance contracts standard IFRS 17, effective date 2022. To help IFoA members, the IFoA’s cross-practice Financial Reporting Group (FRG) is hosting an event at Staple Inn covering these developments. 

    For more information on the FRG please visit this webpage

  • KSS event – The Regulatory Perspective

    Deloitte Saltire Court 20 Castle Terrace Edinburgh EH1 2EG
    5 September 2019

    Spaces available

    This KSS talk, presented by the FCA Head of Department in Scotland, will focus on the following 3 main areas:

    • FCA business plan priorities
    • The future of regulation
    • FCA Engagement in Scotland
  • Sessional Research Event - Risk Margin Working Party

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London, WC1V 7QJ
    9 September 2019

    Spaces available

    For life insurers in the UK, the risk margin is one of the most controversial aspects of the Solvency II regime. Following its implementation, the risk margin came under considerable criticism for being too large and too sensitive to interest rate movements. These criticisms are particularly valid for annuity business – such business is of great significance to the national system for retirement provision. This criticism has led to political interest, and the risk margin was a major element of the Treasury Committee inquiry into Solvency II.

  • GIRO Conference 2019

    EICC, The Exchange, 150 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8EE
    24-26 September 2019
    Spaces available

    GIRO is attended annually by over 800 delegates and speakers who are keen to discuss key topics such as Pricing, Reserving, Modelling and the future of the insurance industry. GIRO 2018 was a huge success and we have opened bookings early for what we hope will be another brilliant conference at the EICC in Edinburgh this year. 

     

  • Life Conference 2019

    The Convention Centre Dublin, Spencer Dock, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1
    20-22 November 2019
    Spaces available

    The Life Conference is the premier event for professionals interested in life insurance.  Offering a wide range of workshops and plenary sessions it’s the perfect opportunity to discover what’s hot and current in life insurance ensuring you get up to date on the latest thinking and innovation whilst meeting and exchanging ideas with a broad range of professionals.

  • Autumn Lecture 2019, London - Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP

    Lincoln's Inn The Treasury Office, London WC2A 3TL
    2 December 2019

    Spaces available

    The IFoA is pleased to announce that this year’s Autumn Lecture will feature the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP as its guest speaker.  Nicky has previously served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Women. She now chairs the Treasury Select Committee whose remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of HM Treasury, along with all of its agencies and associated bodies.