Learnings from the revamped General Insurance Fellowship course

The revamped General Insurance Fellowship pathway was launched in 2021. Learn more about the new subjects and hear from two of our Fellows who have recently completed them.

The General Insurance Fellowship pathway consists of 3 subjects:

 

Principles subjects

  • General Insurance and Health Valuations (GIHV – launched in 2021): building on the techniques in the Foundation and Actuary Programs, this subject covers a range of core actuarial techniques to value insurance liabilities and the implications of different methods, models and assumptions for General Insurance and Health products.
  • General Insurance and Health Pricing and Portfolio Analytics (GIHPPA – launched in 2021): this subject covers the technical and commercial aspects of pricing and portfolio analytics for General Insurance and Health products.

Applications subject

  • General Insurance Applications (GIA – launched in 2022): building on the principles taught in GIHV and GIHPPA, this subject provides students with an understanding of how a general insurance company operates in Australia and the legal, regulatory and professional framework that governs the industry. 

These subjects are delivered through a mixture of online readings, video resources, weekly in-depth tutorials with invited guests, and discussion forums to share further questions and insights. The Chief Examiner draws on significant personal experience in the sector as well as the active support of the General Insurance Practice Committee, Education Faculty, and Independent Examiners to ensure the content is contemporary. The two Principles subjects are offered once a year in alternating semesters and the Applications subject is offered twice a year. Formal assessments consist of one written assignment and one three-hour exam. Since the launch of these subjects, the pass rates have aligned with Council’s expectations that well-prepared students should pass assessments. This achievement reflects the teaching quality, the dedication of the students, and the input from many Fellows who volunteered their expertise to approve the subjects’ content and assessments.

Jenny Ting delivered her first subject this semester. She captured her reflections by stating:

“The team has done a great job redesigning the General Insurance Fellowship subjects. The subject delivery focuses on the student experience and aligns the student’s learning outcomes to the needs of our industry. I love that as the Chief Examiner, this course allows me to focus on providing students with a well-rounded learning environment to equip them to be an expert advisor.”

Since the launch of the new General Insurance Fellowship subjects, student interest has been strong, with 630 enrolments from 350 students across the 3 subjects.

Satisfaction among students is high, with 78% satisfied with their experience in studying with the Institute. Examples of student feedback are:

  • Greatly improved learning experience;
  • Subject notes were detailed, easy to understand and relevant to student’s daily work;
  • Assessments comprehensively covered the subject’s learning outcomes;
  • High level of interaction between the Chief Examiner and the students; and
  • Excellent list of guest speakers to bring-to-life key industry topics and issues.

 

Sharing from our new qualifying actuaries

As a professional body, we are very excited to see our first new cohort of young actuaries graduating from the general insurance fellowship pathway. Two newly qualified actuaries share their experiences and perspectives below.

Gabriela Kivi

Occupation: Senior Manager, Finance & Analytics for a general insurer called SquareTrade.

Work Experience: 11 years in GI in London & Melbourne across underwriting, portfolio, pricing, reserving, financial planning & analysis, business intelligence and analytics.

University: Cardiff University, UK – BSc Accounting.

Hobbies: Running, swimming, yoga, languages, reading, travelling, food & wine!

What led you to follow the General Insurance Fellowship Track, and what has been your overall experience now you have qualified?

The program was just starting up when I was finishing my Actuary exams, so it was a natural progression for me. I found the program and experience really engaging – much more so than my Foundation exams, which I did alongside full-time work via distance learning. I found virtual tutorials and the online discussion forum particularly helpful. Being able to ask questions when they pop into your head whilst studying and knowing that they’d be answered by the Chief Examiner or another student within days, if not hours, was a valuable tool for me. I found the modules to be well-structured and understandable, with a good balance of theory and practical examples.

What tips do you have for students studying – how did we manage the pressures of work/life/study?

I won’t lie – it was hard! There were some days when I felt like I absolutely couldn’t find the motivation to study, especially after a long day at work. I found that I studied better in the morning rather than the evening, so tried to wake up early most weekdays to get 90 minutes of study done before work. On the weekend, I planned my socialising around studying. If I wanted to go out in the evening, I got the study done during the day and dinner out with friends or family was my reward. It didn’t always work perfectly but I realised that if I did at least a small amount of study each day, it helped keep my motivation up.

What emerging topics in General Insurance do you think are worth sharing?

I am a keen reader of the Actuarial Eye blog by Jennifer Lang and was especially captivated during COVID lockdowns in Victoria.

I am also interested in anything climate-related so try to keep abreast of industry issues around natural perils, geographical analytics tools, government schemes, regulations, and other news.

Whilst, not an emerging topic, I recently delivered a presentation within my organisation called “The Power of Analysis: Numbers Don’t Lie… Or Do They?”

I used the same datasets to deliver contradictory messages using different scales of axes, different methods of smoothing and varying time periods to illustrate the consequences of data manipulation and the importance of communication of results. For example, I showed a scarily increasing average claim severity trend on one chart, and a stable trend on another (with the same data). I had a lot of fun with that.

Now that you have qualified, would you tell us more about what you plan to do with your qualification?

It’s still early days so I haven’t put too much pressure on myself to figure out the next steps. I started a new role in November, which will be a step up for me in terms of breadth of responsibilities – I’ll be managing Pricing, Financial Planning and Analytics for the Australian operations of a global insurer, so I’ll give myself a bit of time to settle into the role.

Aside from that, I am keen to get involved with the education side of things and give back to the Actuaries Institute now that I am (finally) on the other side! I scrutineered the most recent GI Pricing & Portfolio Analytics exam and recently spoke at a tutorial to share some study tips with students. In the future, I’d like to get more involved, possibly with marking exams or helping with writing content for the program. 

Yankai Wang

Occupation: Analytics Leader for Marsh Analytics Pacific

Work Experience: I started off my actuarial career as a graduate at PwC Australia, where I was involved in credit risk and capital modelling to support banks’ transition under IFRS 9, as well as an audit of general insurers. Following PwC, I joined Suncorp’s workers’ compensation valuation team.

Currently, at Marsh, I lead the team’s reserving practice, which includes general insurance liability valuation, capital adequacy assessment and IFRS 17 implementation. I am also involved in risk finance optimisation, risk tolerance validation, captive feasibility study and strategic review of complex insurance programs for our clients.

University: University of Sydney (Bachelor of Economics, major in Econometrics and Finance).

Hobbies: My love for basketball has not subsided over the years and I never pass the opportunity to shoot some hoops. Aside from that, I am also an amateur boxer and love a good sweat session on the bag. On the artistic front (thanks to my fiancée), I have recently grown fond of musical theatre and opera, after seeing “9 to 5” and “Phantom of the Opera”.

What led you to follow the General Insurance Fellowship Track, and what has been your overall experience now you have qualified?

I was lucky to have the opportunity to study through both the old and new curriculums to qualify as a Fellow. I have always been interested in the application aspect of actuarial knowledge and keen to learn the most appropriate actuarial practice (or as I would call it, Good Actuarial Practice or “GAP”). As a result, choosing General Insurance Application was a no-brainer for me and I was certainly not disappointed.

The General Insurance Applications subject establishes a clear connection from textbook knowledge to our day-to-day practice and pinpoints exactly why we do things the certain way. It reminds us of our professional and regulatory duty. It is not just a necessity for whoever wishes to become an Appointed Actuary one day, but also principle-based guidance to an actuary in any industry. Jacqui, the Chief Examiner of this subject, also embedded her vast industry knowledge into the entire learning process, making it relevant and relatable to us.

After completing this subject, I was very pleased to see the learnings applied to my job, and I can now provide junior actuaries with guidance on their studies and career. The journey to qualify was not an easy one, but looking back, it was worth the effort and I am very proud of our profession.

What tips do you have for students studying – how did we manage the pressures of work/life/study?

My first advice is to set up a plan which you can stick to. While being cliché, the emphasis here is to realise and admit the limitations of our attention span and energy. A study plan must be tailored to suit ourselves, and being overly ambitious (such as planning to study all weekend after a whole week’s full-time work) will only lead to faster burnout and weaker focus. Therefore, one should only make reasonable plans, such as reading one module of course notes per day or doing one paper under the exam condition per day. One should also allow themselves to relax and recharge, especially leading up to the exam day.

My second tip is to seek help from others, whether it be from your peers or more experienced actuaries. Our education program is comprehensive and collaborative in nature, and as a result, one will struggle if choosing to carry all the burden alone. Do engage with others and you will be surprised by the difference a second opinion can make.

What emerging topics in General Insurance would love to share with others?  

IFRS 17 has been a major focus of insurers for some time and will be formally effective in 2023. This new standard revolutionises insurers’ financial statements and marks a new era of financial reporting. The implementation of IFRS 17 requires comprehensive collaboration amongst a large number of professions. Therefore, this provides a great opportunity for actuaries to showcase as leading professionals in the insurance industry, and to also absorb insights from others for our own development.

Another emerging topic is cyber risk. Despite being frequently discussed in the headlines, there is still much to learn and develop in this area. As technology evolves with complexity and sophistication, the attitude towards cyber risk and specific demands of cyber insurance products evolve with it. This area brings both challenges and opportunities for actuaries to demonstrate their abilities in various aspects, such as product design, reserving, pricing, underwriting and risk management.

Now that you have qualified, would you tell us more about what you plan to do with your qualification?

The learning and development do not stop at qualification, it’s rather a long-term and ongoing goal for me. With extra capacity at hand, I intend to focus more on the general insurance industry and stay in tune with the latest market development and emerging trends.

Another area I want to focus on is making contributions to the Institute’s education program. I would like to stay updated with the current syllabus and ensure the training of future actuaries stay relevant and reflective of the industry trend.

 

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

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