Actuarial Science

Pathway to Become an Actuary in Malaysia through Society of Actuaries (SOA) Exams

How to Qualify to Become a Professional Actuaries in Malaysia through the Society of Actuaries (SOA) Exams

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Most practising actuaries today have a degree in mathematics, actuarial science, statistics or computer science. Similar to accountants, graduates must also pass professional exams, before they become recognised as an actuary. In Malaysia, to be recognised as an actuary, one will have to be a registered member with the Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM).

To become a professional actuaries in Malaysia, one must take the relevant professional exams and pass them. The most common route to become an Actuary in Malaysia is taking the Professional Papers from the Society of Actuaries (SOA) – USA. Malaysian insurance regulator, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM) recognize Fellows from the Society of Actuaries (U.S.) as qualified actuaries in Malaysia.

The education pathway to become a professional actuary in Malaysia can take a long time and students must have the perseverance see through to the final stage. The path to becoming an actuary involves going through a well-structured education plan. One must pass professional examinations and various on-the-job assessments, in addition to obtaining a degree in actuarial science. In this article, we will lay out the education pathway for students interested to become an actuary in Malaysia.

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Beginning Your Education Pathway in Actuarial Studies through the Society of Actuaries (SOA)

I was confused what to study & which university. My cousin introduced me to EduSpiral who helped me to make the right choice. Ye Lun, Actuarial Science at Asia Pacific University

I was confused what to study & which university. My cousin introduced me to EduSpiral who helped me to make the right choice.
Ye Lun, Actuarial Science at Asia Pacific University

Actuarial science is a discipline that assesses financial risks in the insurance and finance fields, using mathematical and statistical methods.

Actuarial science applies the mathematics of probability and statistics to define, analyze and solve the financial implications of uncertain future events. Traditional actuarial science largely revolves around the analysis of mortality and the production of life tables, and the application of compound interest.

Students after SPM, IGSE or O-Levels, can go for the Foundation in Business and subsequently the Actuarial Science degree programme with exemptions from the professional papers. Students may attempt part of the Society of Actuaries (SOA) professional papers during their degree programme or upon completing the degree.

There are not many universities in Malaysia that offer the degree in Actuarial Science. To study Actuarial Science in Malaysia, students should choose a university that best equips them with the knowledge and skills to succeed in actuaries.

During their undergraduate studies, students can attempt the examinations conducted by professional bodies such as Society of Actuaries (SOA). The SOA is the world’s largest actuarial professional organisation and one that constantly highlights the importance of education, credentialing and professional development. Although based in the USA, the society has a global footprint.

Through research and education, the SOA’s mission is to advance actuarial knowledge and to enhance the ability of actuaries to provide expert advice and relevant solutions for financial, business and societal challenges.

Most people will take around six to eight years to complete the requirements to become an Associate, and another two or three years to become a Fellow, by which time one will usually be in one’s thirties.

Top Private Universities Offering the Actuarial Science Degree Programme in Malaysia

My father wanted me to study at the best university for actuarial science & I wasn't sure about my results. EduSpiral met up with us, explained about the course and university.

My father wanted me to study at the best university for actuarial science & I wasn’t sure about my results. EduSpiral met up with us, explained about the course and university.
Min En, Actuarial Science, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

Outstanding private universities in Malaysia for Actuarial Science or Actuarial Maths degree with VEE exemptions from the Society of Actuaries (SOA) are Asia Pacific University (APU), Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, UCSI University and  Taylor’s University.

At Asia Pacific University, Bachelor of Science (Hons) Actuarial Studies students will also receive credits for all the 3 Validated by Educational Experience (VEE) papers from SOA as long as they receive a minimum mark of 70% in the APU equivalent papers. APU is the first and the only Malaysian university that has all the six preliminary exams (P, FM, IFM, LTAM, STAM & SRM) and all the three VEE topics listed in its SOA UCAP profile.

In addition, the Actuarial Science degree at Asia Pacific University (APU)  has been awarded full accreditation from the IFoA (UK). APU is among the 7 universities in Asia to receive such worldwide recognition.

APU graduates who perform to the required standard can be eligible for exemption from CS1, CS2, CM1, CM2, CB1 and CB2. This is a 6-paper exemption out of 7 papers of the Core Principles Professional Papers for the new IFoA Curriculum 2019, which is the maximum paper exemptions.

In addition, the university has competent teaching staff with professional or specialized academic qualification, possessing working experience from actuarial industries/academia.

APU’s Actuarial Science course syllabus is comprehensively structured in tandem and compliance with the 2 biggest actuarial bodies, the IFoA (UK) and the SOA (US).

Heriot-Watt University Malaysia’s team of leading academics is internationally recognised for research, scholarship and teaching in mathematical and actuarial sciences. The Actuarial Science degree at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia receives the same exemptions from the VEE papers from SOA.

HWUM Bachelor’s degree mirrors the highly successful BSc Actuarial Science degree offered in the UK, which is accredited by the UK Actuarial Profession. This can significantly reduce the time taken to qualify as a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Good performance in examinations means exemptions from all Core Technical subjects, CT1 to CT8, of the UK Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) which can be converted to CS1 and 2, CM1 and 2 and CB1 and 2 under the new system of examinations, giving prospective actuaries an advantage over those in other mathematics programmes.

The degree is accredited by the Royal Statistical Society.

Students will receive a dual award University of the West of England, UK degree at Taylor’s University for the BSc. (Hons) Actuarial Studies. Taylor’s University offers a 3-year and a 4-year Actuarial Studies degree programme.

The 1-year internship is offered in the third year of the 4-year programme, students have the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and gain industry exposure that will help them excel in their final year of studies.

Furthermore, students can consider studying the BSc (Hons) Actuarial Science at affordable and top ranked UCSI University. Many of UCSI’s students have completed 3 to 5 professional papers of the SOA during Year 2 and 3 of the Actuarial Science degree which reflects on the strength of their lecturers and curriculum.

Qualifying to become a professional Actuary in Malaysia through taking the Society of Actuaries (SOA) Professional Papers

I was confused which university to choose for my studies and contacted EduSpiral. He provided facts & evidence to help me make the right choice. Vivian Chua, Actuarial Science at UCSI University

I was confused which university to choose for my studies and contacted EduSpiral. He provided facts & evidence to help me make the right choice.
Vivian Chua, Actuarial Science at UCSI University

No specific degree is mandatory, but like most good jobs, graduating from university will give one a certain edge and credibility. Most practising actuaries today have a degree in mathematics, actuarial science, statistics or computer science. Similar to accountants, graduates must also pass professional exams, before they become recognised as an actuary.

In Malaysia, to be recognised as an actuary, one will have to be a registered member with the Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM).

What kind of support do local and foreign companies provide?

Most, if not all local and foreign companies support their actuarial students by having actuarial development programs with the following incentives:

  • Study and exam leave
  • Full/partial reimbursement on costs of study material
  • Salary increment and/or bonus upon passing of exams

Which actuarial professional bodies are recognized in Malaysia?

Malaysian insurance regulator, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM) recognize Fellows of the following organizations as qualified actuaries:

Currently, the ASM does not conduct any of its own exams, but aspiring actuaries in Malaysia can choose to take the exams conducted by one of the above professional bodies.

What are the passing rates like for the Actuarial Science Professional Papers?

Passing rates are generally low compared with other professions.
For the Institute, Society or Faculty professional exams, passing rates as low as 15% – 25% per subject are not uncommon. 

What about SOA exams and qualifications for Actuary?

The current structure for the Society of Actuaries (U.S.) exam series is briefly described below:

  • 6 Preliminary Exams
  • Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) – 3 subjects
  • Fundamental Actuarial Practices (FAP) – 8 modules + 2 assessments
  • Project (Predictive Analytics)
  • Associateship Professionalism Course
  • FSA Module – 2 Modules
  • FSA Exams – 2 Exams
  • Strategic Business Management Module
  • Fellowship Admissions Course

Society of Actuaries (SOA) – USA

After chatting with EduSpiral on WhatsApp, he met me & my family to take us around the campus & provide further advise on the course. Zijun, Actuarial Science at Asia Pacific University (APU)

After chatting with EduSpiral on WhatsApp, he met me & my family to take us around the campus & provide further advise on the course.
Zijun, Actuarial Science at Asia Pacific University (APU)

The journey to become a qualified actuary as outlined by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) – one of the most prominent professional organisation for actuaries in the world – is divided into four stages.

  • The first is the Validated by Educational Experience (VEE) stage where students who receive grades of 70% and above for subjects in economics, corporate finance and applied statistics – will receive credit for these professional papers.
  • The second stage involves 6 preliminary exams that candidates must pass before proceeding to the penultimate stage, namely, the Fundamentals of Actuarial Practices (E-Learning), Project (Predictive Analytics) and the Associateship Professionalism Course (APC). This will qualify them as an Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA).
  • The final hurdle would be to qualify as a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA).

Route to Becoming an Actuary throught the Society of Actuaries professional exams – SOA

To attain the Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA) designation a candidate must successfully complete the requirements shown below, and have the Application for Admission as an Associate approved by the SOA Board of Directors. Requirements include examinations, an e-Learning course, a proctored project assessment, validation of educational experiences outside the SOA Education system (VEE), and a professionalism seminar.

Route to Becoming an Actuary throught the Society of Actuaries professional exams – SOA

Route to Becoming an Actuary throught the Society of Actuaries professional exams – SOA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Preliminary Education Component

Consists of 6 papers:

  • Exam P Probability
  • Exam FM Financial Mathematics
  • Exam LTAM (Long-Term Actuarial Mathematics)
  • Exam IFM (Investments & Financial Markets)
  • Exam STAM (Short-Term Actuarial Mathematics)
  • Exam SRM (Statistics for Risk Modelling)

2. Validation by Educational Experience (VEE)

There are three required VEE topics as of July 1, 2018:

  • Economics
  • Accounting and Finance
  • Mathematical Statistics

NOTE: VEE topics are not prerequisites for the preliminary examinations. They need not be completed prior to writing any of the preliminary exams and may be fulfilled independently of the preliminary exam process.

Credit for VEE can be obtained through various courses completed from colleges or other education programs. Within Malaysia, candidates can gain credit via the following Private Universities:

3. Fundamentals of Actuarial practice (FAP) – E-Learning

A series of online learning modules, called the Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice (FAP), are intended to be taken after the preliminary exams. They cover real-world topics such as insurance and professionalism with readings, case studies and projects. The preliminary exams and FAP modules comprise the majority of the education requirement for the ASA designation.

Web-based course comprising eight modules and two assessments:

Modules:

  • Module 1 – Introduction / The Role of the Professional Actuary
  • Module 2 – Core External Forces
  • Module 3 – Risk in Actuarial Problems
  • Module 4 – Actuarial Solutions
  • Module 5 – Actuarial Models
  • Module 6 – Model Selection and Solution Design
  • Module 7 – Selection of Initial Assumptions
  • Module 8 – Monitoring Results and Completing the Control Cycle

Assessments:

  • First Assessment upon completion of Modules 1 to 5
  • Final Assessment upon completion of Modules 6 to 8

4. Project (Predictive Analytics)

5. Associate Professionalism Course (ACP) – Seminar

Half day course covering professionalism, ethics and legal liabilities.

Upon completion of the Preliminary Education Component, VEE, FAP and ACP, the candidate will obtain the title of Associate of the SOA (ASA).

5. Specialty Tracks for Fellowship Courses 

Upper-level exam topics for the FSA designation include plan design, risk classification, enterprise risk management, ratemaking and valuation. Three fellowship exams are taken in one of six specialization tracks chosen by the candidate – Finance & Enterprise Risk Management, Investments, Individual Life Insurance & Annuities, Retirement Benefits, Group & Health Insurance, or General Insurance.

To proceed from Associate to Fellow in the SOA, specific exams and modules have to be completed from one of the following specialty tracks:

  • Corporate Finance and ERM (CFE)
  • Quantitative Finance and Investment (QFI)
  • Individual Life and Annuities
  • Retirement Benefits
  • Group and Health
  • General Insurance

6. Decision Making and Communication (DMAC) Module

E-learning module on written and oral communication skills and decision making skills, applied in solving business problems.

7. Fellowship Admissions Course (FAC)

Final fellowship course consisting of lectures, case studies and presentations to increase awareness in professional ethical and malpractice issues, encourage problem-solving from different perspectives and facilitate coaching in oral communications.

Upon completion of all of the above, the candidate will obtain the title of Fellow of the SOA (FSA).

Route to Becoming an Fellow through the Society of Actuaries professional exams – SOA

Route to Becoming an Fellow through the Society of Actuaries professional exams – SOA

How many Professional Actuaries are there in Malaysia?

How many Professional Actuaries are there in Malaysia? Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM) Society Statistics as at 30 June 2019

Membership Breakdown by Class

Class Total
Fellow 164
Associate 65
Ordinary 721
Student 18
Total 968

Membership Breakdown by Professional Body

Professional Body Total
Society of Actuaries 515
Institute & Faculty of Actuaries 286
Institute of Actuaries of Australia 38
Casualty Actuarial Society 88
Others 41
Total 968

Actuaries Salary and Career Opportunities in Malaysia

Actuaries are well compensated. Experienced fellows have the potential to earn from $150,000 to $250,000 annually, and many actuaries earn more than that.

According to Hays Recruitment Malaysia 2019 Salary Guide 

The yearly salary for the various job positions in actuaries in Malaysia are:

  • Chief Actuaries 420 – 660k
  • Department Head 180 – 300k
  • Senior Manager 180 – 264k
  • Manager 84 – 192k
  • Associate 60 – 84k

According to the 2020 Robert Walters Salary Report

The annual salary for an actuary in Malaysia is:

4 – 7 Years Experience 8 – 12 Years Experience 12+ Years Experience
Actuaries – Pricing & Valuation 90 – 180k a year 180 – 264k a year 264k+ a year

Membership Classes (To become a member of Actuarial Society of Malaysia)

There are four membership classes under the ASM:

  1. Fellow
  2. Associate
  3. Ordinary
  4. Student

The requirements for each class are as follows:

Fellow

To join, professionals must be a Fellow of one of the following bodies:

  • Society of Actuaries (USA)
  • Casualty Actuarial Society (USA)
  • Faculty and Institute of Actuaries (UK)
  • Institute of Actuaries of Australia (Australia)
  • Canadian Institute of Actuaries (Canada)
    • Recommended by 2 Fellow members of the Society
    • Resident in Malaysia or deemed to be familiar with Malaysian conditions
    • At least 1 year’s experience in the Malaysian actuarial industry

Associate

To join, professionals must be an Associate of one of the following bodies:

  • Society of Actuaries (USA)
  • Casualty Actuarial Society (USA)
  • Faculty and Institute of Actuaries (UK)
  • Institute of Actuaries of Australia (Australia)
  • Canadian Institute of Actuaries (Canada)

OR

– Passed examinations of any professional actuarial bodies to be recognized as Fellow, which is
deemed to be at least equivalent to the examination requirements to become an Associate of the
above actuarial bodies.

Ordinary

– Satisfies one of the following:

  • Ordinary member of a professional actuarial body; OR
  • Passed at least 1 part/subject of the examinations of a professional actuarial body which has no class of Ordinary membership and is continuing to study for other examinations of the actuarial body; OR
  • Completed an actuarial course or other related statistical course in a university, college  or other academic institute and has achieved a qualification thereof; OR
  • Carrying out actuarial or other related work in a life or non-life insurance company, government office or actuarial consulting office.

– Nominated by 2 members of the Society

Student

  • Nominated by 2 persons delegated by the Vice Chancellor of the university
  • Does not meet the requirements for admission as Fellow, Associate or Ordinary member; OR meets       the requirements but is not gainfully employed and chooses to seek Student membership
  • Has a declared interest in actuarial matters
  • Undergraduate/postgraduate student in an actuarial-related program

 

 

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