This series explains our Actuary Program subjects in-depth, what students can expect, and introduces the Chief Examiner.

About the Chief Examiner

Janice Jones is the chief examiner for Communications, Modelling and Professionalism (CMP) and Asset Liability Management (ALM). She has extensive financial services experience across life insurance, superannuation, investment, and financial planning. She continues to advise clients on both liabilities and investments, and regularly prepares reports and presents to corporate and statutory boards and executives.

Janice is also currently the Independent Examiner for the Actuarial Society of South Africa Pensions Fellowship subject. She liaises directly with the Actuaries Institute Superannuation and Investment Practice Committee to ensure that the subject content is contemporary.

What is CMP?

CMP is the steppingstone between Foundation and Fellowship subjects. While the Foundation subjects focus on technical knowledge and actuarial skills, CMP aims to develop core business skills students require for employment.

In CMP, students learn professional and ethical frameworks and develop an ability to think critically and apply judgement. They are also taught effective writing and presentation skills and are introduced to the concept of model governance.

The Fellowship subjects then provide an opportunity to put all these skills into practice.

What students can expect

This subject is made up of five themed tutorials with guest Fellows who bring the subject to life. Students hear real-life experiences and practical advice and can have frank discussions with the guest on a range of professional issues. One tutorial includes tips for the written assignment, and another for the presentation!

In this subject, students are provided examples of high-quality assessments from previous semesters, access to discussion boards and a wide range of instructive videos as support materials.

This subject consists of one written and one presentation assessment. The assessment questions are drawn from realistic situations, typically a professional dilemma and an actuarial modelling case study. There is also a series of compulsory online quizzes to ensure that students have read the teaching materials.

Most students pass this subject, and we have found that students who prepare for the two assessments tend to do well. CMP provides a great opportunity for students to polish their communication and professional skills, which will help them succeed professionally.

What is ALM?

ALM is a bridge between Foundation and Fellowship subjects for investment-related themes. The Foundation subjects focus on mathematical techniques required for pricing assets and the principles of economics. ALM assumes this knowledge and turns the focus of the actuary to understanding the characteristics of the major investment assets classes and the relationship between an investment portfolio and the liabilities being funded.

These basic concepts have application for an actuary in any field of work that involves funding future cash flows. This grounding is directly relevant to the Fellowship practice areas of retirement, life, general and health insurance. Actuaries particularly interested in asset pricing, consulting and management can deepen their understanding with the Investment subject.

The subject provides an excellent opportunity for students to broaden their understanding of asset classes, capital markets and investment theories.

ALM will give a liability-side actuary confidence to discuss the investment portfolio funding their liabilities with other stakeholders and create a solid grounding for those interested in pursuing an asset-side actuarial career.

What students can expect

Weekly online tutorials bring this subject to life using current ‘news of the day’ topics to demonstrate the practical application of subject materials. Our Chief Examiner Janice Jones has also built a library of materials and case studies for further practice.

Students are encouraged to work through example questions and self-assess their answers, to help prepare for future assessments. We also have a student discussion board which proves helpful to further understand the detail, alongside study groups.

The subject consists of a mid-semester assessment and an exam that tests student understanding and application of the subject knowledge to an unfamiliar scenario.

Most students pass and can clearly articulate their knowledge in the subject. We encourage students who are less confident in their written communication to enrol in CMP first, to help them with this subject.

Student comment

“Getting various experienced actuaries to talk about their experiences especially a big shout out to David Minty for his courage and generosity in sharing the challenges he faced associated with the James Hardie case and the aftermath.”

CPD: Actuaries Institute Members can claim two CPD points for every hour of reading articles on Actuaries Digital.

Comments

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Simon Solomon says

17 December 2021

It's good to see that actuarial studies now take into account the practical side of actually applying the knowledge gained to the real world. When I completed the actuarial course many years ago, I still had several years of learning how to apply the training to real-live situations.


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