Studying Actuarial Science Degree in Malaysia & How to Become a Professional Actuaries


Pathway to become a Professional Actuaries in Malaysia

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Actuarial science applies mathematical skills to the social sciences to solve important problems for insurance, government, commerce, industry and academic researchers. Actuaries assess, evaluate and manage the financial risks faced by individuals, organisations and governments for future planning. Risks include illness, disability and death, the effects of natural disasters such as cyclones and earthquakes, and major economic or social change.

The path to becoming an actuary in Malaysia involves going through a well-structured education plan. This involves university-level education and post-university examinations, as well as other requirements. Apart from passing the professional examinations, there are also practical experience requirements and residential courses to be attended. These ensure that actuaries are not only technically capable, but are also aware of other professional requirement.

The pathway to become a professional actuary in Malaysia can be long. A normal bachelor degree in Actuarial Science or Actuarial Studies in Malaysia takes 3 years. Thereafter, completing the professional exams may take another 3-7 years (considering working full-time while studying). Students should choose the best university in Malaysia for actuarial science to prepare them well to face the professional exams.

If you choose to study actuarial science you will have a firm grounding in the traditional actuarial skill set of mathematics, statistics, demography, finance and economics. This background, coupled with strong analytical skills, sees actuaries serving as financial advisers to a range of organisations including life, general and health insurance companies; banks and other financial institutions; superannuation funds; and governments. Actuaries tackle many types of problems, most of which involve uncertainty about the future.

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Studying Actuarial Science in Malaysia and the Pathway to Become a Professional Actuary

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Bryan Yap, Foundation in Business (Actuarial Science) at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

Actuaries build and use mathematical models based on statistical data to calculate the appropriate amount of premiums to charge policyholders. This will require projections of how events will unfold in the future. In calculating the right amount of premiums, the actuary will need to project how large potential claims will be and when they will occur.

Such projections are incorporated into the models to calculate the premium required. At the same time, judgement, business acumen and experience are required to understand and logically interpret the results of the model before finally coming up with a solution to the problem. Actuarial science is a combination of science and art!

Calculation of premiums is only one of the many contributions of actuaries to insurance companies. In addition to pricing decisions, actuaries are involved in designing insurance products, formulating investment strategies, determining reserves to be set up to meet future claims and recommending distribution of profits to shareholders after taking into account the insurance company’s future obligation to policyholders.

Actuaries evaluate and manage financial risks, particularly in the financial services industry. If you are good at mathematics, enjoy problem-solving and are interested in financial matters, you should enjoy studying actuarial science.

What you Will Study in Actuarial Science in Malaysia

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Zijun, Actuarial Science at Asia Pacific University

Obtaining an Actuarial Science degree at a top private university in Malaysia provides the first step towards qualifying as an actuary. Actuarial Science is an extremely demanding field of study and only very dedicated and capable students are likely to succeed.

Not all people are suited to study actuarial science as it is a very challenging course and requires a long time to become a professional actuaries. Students after SPM, O-Levels or UEC with As in Maths and Add Maths can consider a career in actuary.

Actuarial Science is a very comprehensive course in the way that it covers Mathematics, Finance, Economics, Accounting, Business Models, Computer Programming and Risk Management. As such, a high aptitude in Mathematics is highly required.

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Vivian Chua, Actuarial Science at UCSI University

Actuarial science includes a number of interrelated subjects, including mathematics, probability theory, statistics, finance, economics, and computer science. Historically, actuarial science used deterministic models in the construction of tables and premiums. The science has gone through revolutionary changes during the last 30 years due to the proliferation of high speed computers and the union of stochastic actuarial models with modern financial theory.

Actuarial Science degree students at top universities in Malaysia will also learn Calculus, Statistics, Probability, and Financial Mathematics. With this fundamental Mathematical knowledge graduates will be able to solve complex actuarial problems.

Actuarial science is the discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in insurance, finance and other industries and professions. Actuaries are professionals who are qualified in this field through intense education and experience. Upon completion of the actuarial science degree programme in Malaysia, actuaries must demonstrate their competence by passing a series of thorough professional examinations.

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

Being an actuary also requires you to master several computer programming languages such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Visual Basic, Microsoft Visual FoxPro, and most importantly, Prophet – an actuarial software designed to crunch a large database. If you do not enjoy learning programming languages or writing codes, actuarial science would not be the career for you.

Actuaries are professionals who like to solve complex problems. There are many factors impacting an actuarial solution that even one assumption is inaccurate, it would affect the whole solution and result.

Consequently, actuaries employ the actuarial control cycle – a problem-solving approach that applies equally well to the most broad and the focused actuarial problems. It is a model of actuarial practice in a wide range of fields and provides common grounding for all candidates.

Through the control cycle, all actuarial work is categorized into three main functions:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Design the solution
  3. Monitor the results

Because of their ability to analyse and solve complex problems, actuaries command a very high salary. In fact, it is one of the highest paid professions in Malaysia and globally.

Who Should Study Actuaries in Malaysia

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Weng Hang, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

To become an actuary, you will generally need to have a high-level of mathematical ability and an above-average level of intelligence. However, actuaries must also have good verbal and written communication skills, strong computer skills, time-management skills, as well as possess good judgement, imagination and clear logical thinking.

They also should have a knack for problem-solving, be self-confident, and possess the ability to work under pressure. Sharpness, creativity, practicality coupled with good business sense are also some of the key personal attributes. An actuary who has devised a brilliant solution to complex problem must be able to explain his solution to non-actuaries!

Important characteristics for an actuary to have would be as follows:

  • Mathematics is one of your favourite subjects. You study mathematics at the highest possible level and achieve good grades for it. You have a strong interest in solving complicated problems.
  • You see yourself working as an actuary or risk manager for an insurance company, consultancy, pension fund or another financial or government institution.
  • You have an affinity for numbers as well as the societal reality behind them, you are a good abstract thinker and you have strong analytical skills.
  • Students should have achieved high marks in English and possess good oral & written communication skills.
  • You are capable of working independently: you know how to use a library. Initiative and inquisitiveness are also of great value.

What are the Rewards for Actuarial Science Graduates in Malaysia?

  • Financial – qualified actuaries have significantly higher salaries than most
    Chan Min Zhuo, Actuarial Science degree student at UCSI University, is one of the few local students who passed three of the five preliminary exams required in 2 years

    Chan Min Zhuo, Actuarial Science degree student at UCSI University, is one of the few local students who passed three of the five preliminary exams required in 2 years

    other professionals in the financial services industry. In addition, due to increments commonly offered for exam progress, actuarial executives can expect to outperform their peers in other sectors even before qualifying.

  • Intellectually stimulating – actuaries are rewarded for their problem solving and analytical skills. As such, job satisfaction comes from working in an intellectually stimulating and challenging environment. This encourages continual growth in one’s technical skill and ability, paving the way to involvement at senior levels of all organisations.
  • Employment opportunities – due to the constant demand for actuaries exceeding supply, there is rarely ever a shortage of demand for actuaries. Many actuaries have also successfully transitioned to other non-traditional areas such as corporate finance and investments, where their analytical and quantitative skills are highly sought after.

Actuarial Science Salary and Career Opportunities in Malaysiaactuary growth

By and large, the rewards & remuneration for actuarial science professionals are good. It is no secret that an actuary is one of the higher paid jobs in Malaysia.  Of course, salaries can vary according to company policy and market forces of supply and demand. Actuaries have excellent promotion opportunities as they gain more experience and advancement to higher management levels will usually come rapidly with good job performance.

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

According to the 2015 Robert Walters Salary Report, the salary for an actuary in Malaysia is:

4 – 7 Years Experience 8 – 12 Years Experience 12+ Years Experience
Actuaries salary 72 – 120k a year 96 – 204k a year 204k+ a year

EduSpiral took us around to tour the campus and talk to the Head of Actuarial Science Department to help us make a better decision. Edward Loh (L) Partial Scholarship and Chee Wei (R) Full Scholarship for Actuarial Science at UCSI University

Compensation may vary significantly according to years of experience, industry, geographic region, and responsibilities. For example, an actuary with a fellowship designation working as a financial manager in the banking industry could earn a higher salary than another fellow working in the health insurance industry.

The actuarial profession is perfect for individuals who enjoy challenges and problems solving. Those who develop a track-record of success will have many opportunities for growth and advancement. Most employers of actuaries in Malaysia award merit increases as you gain experience and pass the actuarial examinations. Most companies also offer cash bonuses, salary increases, and promotions for each professional designation achieved.

Skills acquired by actuaries, especially the quantitative analysis of risk, are valued in the marketplace. As such, those who have the will to succeed can aspire to career advancement with an actuarial credential.

Future job prospects for actuarial science professionals in Malaysia

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

The Actuarial Society of Malaysia observed that with the expected continuous growth in the insurance market, the demand for actuaries in Malaysia will continue to grow in the next few decades. The rewards for an actuary is good and is one of the higher paid jobs. There is a demand for actuaries in Malaysia.

  • Given the expected continuous growth in the insurance market, it is anticipated that the demand for actuaries in Malaysia will continue to grow in the next few decades.
  • Future regulatory developments (e.g. requirement for certification of IBNR) and the increasing need for risk management are likely to result in significant increase in demand for actuarial services by general insurers.
  • With only 100 qualified actuaries in Malaysia, the market for actuaries can perhaps still be considered unsaturated. 

The Job of an Actuaries in Malaysia

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Wen Hang, Actuarial Science at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

Basically an Actuary calculates the amount of premiums to charge to a policy holder using mathematical models based on statistical data from the past. Since we are not able to predict the future, the actuary has to use mathematical models to make projections as accurate as possible on the chances that disease, accidents or death will occur to a person at a particular age and the potential for claims.

Then the insurance company is able to charge the premium for the financial protection. For example, a premium for a young male driver would be higher as the risks are higher as compared with an experienced driver or the premium for a non-smoker is lower because of the lower health risk.

In short, actuaries use and analyse historical data using mathematical models to come up with projections on the chances of something happening in order to formulate the pricing.

 

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Chee Wey (middle) full scholarship for Actuarial Science at UCSI University

Actuaries are also involved in designing insurance products, formulating involved in designing insurance products, formulating investment strategies, determining reserves to be set up to meet future claims and recommend distribution of profits to shareholders taking into account the insurance company’s future obligation to policyholders.

Actuaries also estimate the amount of future claims by analysing past data or experience to assign probabilities to events such as death, sickness, disability, loss of property or even loss of business profits. Actuaries provide solutions to today’s insurance and financial problems that properly take into account the financial impact of future events. With the actuaries’ expert knowledge in financial matters, they are often key advisors to the Board of Directors.

An actuary’s job is not just boring desk-bound number crunching. Actuaries are faced with challenges of the ever-changing economic environment in which they have to constantly update their techniques of assessment and calculation. It is an intellectual challenge to analyse current trends and predict the future as we live in a world where the unexpected (e.g. the SARS outbreak, September 11 etc.) can happen.

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Terence Wong, Business at Taylor’s University

Due to the demand for actuarial technical skills and knowledge, there are vast career options and opportunities for an actuary. Traditionally, actuaries worked only in the insurance industry.

However, with the growing acknowledgement and recognition of actuarial skills today across the various financial sectors, the potential employment opportunities of an actuary have expanded to encompass banks, investment companies, security and commodity broker firms, regulators and even lecturing in the education sector. With such demand, there is an ever-increasing need for actuaries all around the world.

In Malaysia, most actuaries are still working in the traditional life and non-life insurance industry. However, based on trends worldwide and the rapid growth of the Malaysian financial industry, it is expected that more and more actuaries will ventured into the non-traditional areas as mentioned above.

Graduates of the Actuarial Studies major are well prepared for careers in the following areas:

  • Banking and finance
  • Capital and risk management
  • Financial planning
  • Financial reporting and performance management
  • General insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Investments and asset management
  • Life insurance: product pricing, design and distribution
  • Superannuation
  • Valuation of insurance liabilities and financial instruments.

 What are the examples of actuarial work?

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Chee Kin, Actuarial & Finance degree at UCSI University

The traditional areas in which actuaries operate in Malaysia are: consultancy, investment, life and general insurance and pensions. Actuaries are also increasingly moving into other areas of the financial sector where their analytical skills can be employed.

Consultancy

Actuarial consultancies offer a whole range of services to their clients on issues such as acquisitions, mergers, corporate recovery and financing capital projects. Many also offer advice to employers and trustees who run occupational pension schemes. In fact, such consultancies are probably the biggest employers of actuaries in the UK.

Investment

In the area of investment, actuaries are involved in a range of work such as: pricing financial derivatives, working in fund management, or working in quantative investment research. Often investment actuaries work in fields where their understanding of insurance or pension liabilities helps them to manage the investment of the corresponding assets.

Insurance

The work carried out by actuaries in insurance includes designing new insurance policies, setting premium rates, calculating a company’s financial status (based on the policies already sold), and answering technical queries from policyholders. Insurance actuaries also undertake detailed investigations of different experiences; such as how assets and expenses have performed and the extent of different types of claims for different types of insurance policies (eg death claims for life insurance or car theft for motor insurance).

Pensions & Employee Benefits

In the pensions field, actuaries are usually involved in designing and advising company pension schemes, especially where a value needs to be placed on a scheme’s accumulated pension promises. Actuaries are also involved in designing schemes for employee benefits.

Where do most actuaries work in Malaysia?

Actuaries normally work in insurance

Actuaries are normally found in the insurance industry. They also work in consulting, financial institutions, banks, investment, brokerages, or as lecturers.

The American Society of Actuaries defines actuaries as ‘professionals who provide expert advice and relevant solutions for business and societal problems that involve economic risk.’  In Malaysia, one of the places where actuaries are often found is at insurance companies. Using mathematical models based on statistical data, they are the brains behind the calculation of the amount of insurance premium that a policyholder has to pay.

Banking & Finance professionals can earn very high salaries in Malaysia

With their readily transferable skills, actuaries can also be found in many other fields. Besides the hugely popular insurance field, an actuary can work in finance, marketing, manufacturing or in the development of new products.

For example, an actuary might be hired by a business to help determine where it should invest its money based on risk and potential return analysis. Opportunities for actuaries range from the education industry to research work and even to government agencies. Because of the importance of their work, actuaries are respected throughout the business community.

In Malaysia, most actuaries can be found in life insurance companies, financial institutions such as banks, consultancies providing advice in the fields of employee benefits, life insurance and general insurance, Bank Negara Malaysia and public universities.

Bank Negara Malaysia

The areas of work for actuaries are not limited to insurance firms only. Instead, the horizon for this line of job is very wide. Below are some of the areas of work which actuaries do:

  • Life Insurance / Family Takaful
  • General Insurance / General Takaful
  • Reinsurance / Retakaful
  • Actuarial Consulting
  • Investment and Financial Services
  • Employee Benefit Industry (e.g. EPF)
  • Government Sector (e.g. BNM)
  • Colleges and Universities

What are the career options available to actuaries?

Public Bank

Actuarial Science is a qualification you can take anywhere in the world. It’s a highly regarded profession that is high in demand in Malaysia and you’ll be well rewarded for your analytical and problem solving skills and your ability to lead. Emerging as a key growth sector of the 21st century, actuarial science applies elements of economics, finance, statistics and advanced mathematics to interpret, manage and evaluate risk.

Employment opportunities include working as an investment analyst, portfolio manager, actuarial consultant, insurance actuary, superannuation actuary, risk analyst, big data analyst, liability manager and high level manager.

Actuaries have historically taken on the following positions in companies:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Chief Risk Officer (CRO)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Appointed Actuary / Signing Actuary
  • Asset/Investment Consultant
  • Management Consultant

Actuaries can Specialise in Various Fields in Malaysia

Combining their skills in mathematics, statistics, economics and finance, actuaries are able to gauge and make expert financial predictions about the future.

Actuaries can specialise in the following fields:actuarial

  • Traditional life insurance
    • They focus on the analysis of mortality, the production of life tables and the application of interest to produce life insurance, annuities and endowment policies. It also includes credit and mortgage insurance, long term care insurance and health savings account.
  • Health insurance
    • They focus on the analyses of rates of disability, morbidity, mortality, fertility and other contingencies. Also of great importance are the effects of consumer choice and the geographical distribution of medical services as well as the procedures and use of drugs and therapies.
  • Pension industry

    Actuaries normally work in insurance

    • They measure costs of alternative strategies with regards to the design, maintenance or redesigning of pension plans. The strategies are greatly influenced by collective bargaining, the changing demographics of the workforce, changes in internal revenue code and financial and economic trends among others.
  • Property and casualty
    • They focus on data collection, measurement, estimation, forecasting and valuation tools to provide financial and underwriting data for management to assess marketing opportunities and the required degree of risk taking.
  • Reinsurance
    • Focus on designing and pricing reinsurance and retro-reinsurance schemes. Their responsibility also includes establishing reserve funds for known claims and future claims as well as catastrophes.

What do Actuaries work as in Malaysia?

Actuaries normally work in insurance

Actuaries normally work in insurance

Actuaries work in insurance and everywhere in-between.

Actuaries are at work all over the world—anticipating and solving financial, economic and other problems for companies, institutions and societies.

Actuaries are in demand in financially focused businesses including insurance, employee benefits and consulting. The field is expanding to include just about any industry or opportunity where decisions carry financial weight: banking and investments, government, energy, e-commerce and marketing. More and more, leaders want to reinforce their decisions with trusted analysis.

Actuaries measure risk and discover ways for people and organizations to stay secure, even when the risks are high. And because risk is everywhere, so are actuaries.

People generally know that actuaries work in the insurance industry but what is it that an actuary really does? If you have a life insurance policy, you’ll have to pay premiums regularly to your insurance company in exchange for the financial protection that the company is providing you. Have you ever wondered who calculates the amount of premium you have to pay?

Banking & Finance professionals can earn very high salaries in Malaysia

Actuaries can earn very high salaries in Malaysia

Actuaries build and use mathematical models based on statistical data to calculate the appropriate amount of premiums to charge policyholders. This will require projections of how events will unfold in the future. In calculating the right amount of premiums, the actuary will need to project how large potential claims will be and when they will occur.

Such projections are incorporated into the models to calculate the premium required. At the same time, judgement, business acumen and experience are required to understand and logically interpret the results of the model before finally coming up with a solution to the problem. Actuarial science is a combination of science and art!

Calculation of premiums is only one of the many contributions of actuaries to insurance companies. In addition to pricing decisions, actuaries are involved in designing insurance products, formulating investment strategies, determining reserves to be set up to meet future claims and recommending distribution of profits to shareholders after taking into account the insurance company’s future obligation to policyholders.

As companies seek greater control over risk, they are bringing actuarial work in-house.

Actuaries also estimate the amount of future claims by analysing past data or experience to assign probabilities to events such as death, sickness, disability, loss of property or even loss of business profits. Actuaries provide solutions to today’s insurance and financial problems that properly take into account the financial impact of future events. With the actuaries’ expert knowledge in financial matters, they are often key advisors to the Board of Directors.

An actuary’s job is not just boring desk-bound number crunching. Actuaries are faced with challenges of the ever-changing economic environment in which they have to constantly update their techniques of assessment and calculation. It is an intellectual challenge to analyse current trends and predict the future as we live in a world where the unexpected (e.g. the SARS outbreak, September 11 etc.) can happen.

Due to the demand for actuarial technical skills and knowledge, there are vast career options and

With actuarial work, opportunities grow and change along with the world.

opportunities for an actuary. Traditionally, actuaries worked only in the insurance industry. However, with the growing acknowledgement and recognition of actuarial skills today across the various financial sectors, the potential employment opportunities of an actuary have expanded to encompass banks, investment companies, security and commodity broker firms, regulators and even lecturing in the education sector. With such demand, there is an ever-increasing need for actuaries all around the world.

In Malaysia, most actuaries are still working in the traditional life and non-life insurance industry. However, based on trends worldwide and the rapid growth of the Malaysian financial industry, it is expected that more and more actuaries will ventured into the non-traditional areas as mentioned above.

In the wide field of opportunities to manage risk, one industry employs more actuaries than any other: insurance. Within this industry, actuaries hold significant positions:

Ong Shze Yeong, Head of Actuarial at AXA Affin General Insurance Berhad was at UCSI University to discuss the general insurance industry in Malaysia and to share career insights in this emerging market.

  • In insurance companies, where actuaries develop, price and manage products across all lines of business—life, health, retirement, and general insurance (property and casualty).
  • With consulting firms, where actuaries advise employers on the design and management of pension, retirement and other employee benefit programs and provide actuarial advice to insurance companies and other providers of financial services.
  • Within employee benefits departments, where actuaries define, create and manage pension and retirement plans for employees.
  • In government agencies, where actuaries operate retirement and insurance programs.
  • For financial advisories, where actuaries provide financial planning guidance to individuals.

With actuarial work, opportunities grow and change along with the world. For instance, changes in healthcare laws have created the need for more actuaries to evaluate the effects of those laws on insurance programs and benefit plans. Additionally, catastrophic weather brings opportunity for actuaries in the general insurance field to predict, evaluate and cover the risks associated with potential storms.

Examples of actuarial work:

Public Bank

  • Valuation –performs experience studies, cash flow testing and other tasks to set the amount of reserve and capital to be held by an insurer
  • Pricing –determines product features and pricing of products
  • Pension –certifies the contributions needed to adequately fund a pension plan
  • Consulting –advises clients on actuarial financial risks, usually associated with employee benefits and insurance
  • Reinsurance –performs traditional actuarial duties for a reinsurer that would accept risk from a direct insurance company
  • General Insurance – performs roles like a valuation or pricing actuary, with a specialty in property and casualty insurance
  • Health Insurance –performs actuarial duties for a health organization or insurer
  • Product Line or Segment Risk Management – performs risk management functions for a specific line of business for an insurance company

Non-traditional Career Pathways for Actuaries in Malaysia

In terms of employment opportunities for actuaries, the insurance industry is number one—but not the only industry for actuaries.

Wherever there is risk—and a desire to manage it—there is opportunity for actuaries to apply analytical skills and business knowledge to solve problems. Changes in the world bring new risks; and new risks mean new challenges for actuaries. Also, as more leaders and organizations see that risk modeling and management can help them navigate volatile situations, actuarial careers are taking exciting turns.

Actuaries are finding roles in industries where actuaries have never been.

Banking & Finance professionals can earn very high salaries in Malaysia

As companies seek greater control over risk, they are bringing actuarial work in-house. Enterprise Risk Management has become such a trusted, essential function that some organizations employ a Chief Risk Officer, a risk management-focused position at the most senior level of business leadership.

Additionally, actuaries find professional growth and personal satisfaction in fields such as:

  • Financial services, such as banking, investment management and stock markets in developing economies
  • Technology, e-commerce and business start-ups of all sorts
  • Environmental causes, climate change and weather risk management
  • Transportation, such as shipping and air travel
  • Energy, such as utilities, oil and gas
  • Government institutions, social programs and other groups that help shape legislation

Examples of non-traditional actuarial fields in Malaysia

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I am so glad that my mother found EduSpiral online. I used to be quiet and not able to communicate well in English. Now, I am more confident and speak a lot in English because of the great university environment.
Zhi Kang, Business at Asia Pacific University

  • Business Analytics, where actuaries work on predictive modeling and data mining
  • Enterprise Risk Management, where actuaries provide tools, techniques and perspective to manage operational risks at an enterprise or corporate level
  • Senior Management, where actuaries provide broad business and management oversight for an organization’s most senior decision makers
  • Investments and Fund Management, where actuaries focus on asset risks for asset managers but also contribute in areas such as hedging strategy, derivatives structuring and structured finance
  • Banking and Financial Services, where actuaries help banks and financial services companies with product portfolio, capital management and risk analysis
  • Environmental Finance, where actuaries apply finance techniques and practices to environmental issues
  • Wealth Management and Financial Planning, where actuaries contribute skills and expertise to wealth management firms and individuals (rather than to insurance companies)
  • Health and Retirement Financing, where actuaries offer advice on aspects of social insurance including funding levels and population projections
  • Sales and Marketing, where actuaries help set policies, messages and compensation levels for those directly involved in marketing
  • Entrepreneurial Actuaries, which represents a wide range of opportunities for actuaries who desire to set up and run their own business

The Best Education Pathway to Become a Professional Actuary in Malaysia

EduSpiral took us around to tour the campus and talk to the Head of Actuarial Science Department to help us make a better decision. Edward Loh (L) Partial Scholarship and Chee Wei (R) Full Scholarship for Actuarial Science at UCSI University

EduSpiral took us around to tour the campus and talk to the Head of Actuarial Science Department to help us make a better decision. Edward Loh (L) Partial Scholarship and Chee Wei (R) Full Scholarship for Actuarial Science at UCSI University

The path to becoming an actuary in Malaysia involves going through a well-structured education plan. This involves university-level education and post-university examinations, as well as other requirements. 

After SPM or O-Levels, students can go for the Foundation in Business Administration or Foundation in Arts and then enter into a degree programme in Actuarial Science with VEE exemptions from the Society of Actuaries (SOA). At most universities in Malaysia, 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 equivalent papers.

Upon completing the Actuarial Science degree, students can then begin to take the professional exams.

During their undergraduate studies, students can attempt the examinations conducted by professional bodies such as Society of Actuaries (SOA) or Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA).

 

How long does it normally take to become an Actuary in Malaysia?

A normal bachelor degree takes 3 years (+1 year if you consider an Honours degree in Australia). Thereafter, writing the professional exams through the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (UK) or Society of Actuaries (USA) takes an average of 3-7 years (working and studying) after the degree.

Actuarial Science/Math Degree (3-4 years) + Professional Papers (3-7 years taken part time as you work)

Qualifying to become a professional Actuary in Malaysia

Chong Kim Sin, a UCSI Actuarial Science student has completed 5 Society of Actuaries (SOA) Professional Papers before entering into the 3rd Year of his degree studies.

Chong Kim Sin, a UCSI Actuarial Science student has completed 5 Society of Actuaries (SOA) Professional Papers before entering into the 3rd Year of his degree studies.

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.

The Best Universities in Malaysia to Study Actuarial Science

Students in Malaysia can get a top ranked UK degree in Malaysia at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

Students in Malaysia can get a top ranked UK degree in Malaysia at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

Students can consider studying the BSc (Hons) Actuarial Science at UCSI University or obtain a Staffordshire University, UK degree locally in Malaysia at Asia Pacific University graduating with the BSc (Hons) Actuarial Studies.

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.

The best university in Malaysia for Actuarial Science would be Heriot-Watt University Malaysia where students can get 8-paper exemptions out of 15 needed to qualify as a Fellow at the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (FIA), UK.

As well as developing a core understanding of mathematical and financial concepts and statistical methods, you can gain exemption from eight of the Core Technical subjects (CT1 to CT8) of the professional examinations of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

The Actuarial Science degree programme at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia also provides a good foundation for the later Core Technical subjects. By obtaining the full set of exemptions available during your degree, you could considerably reduce the time it takes you to qualify as an actuary.

What are the Passing Rates like for the Actuarial Science Professional Exams?

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 exams and qualifications for Actuary?

Students at Asia Pacific University are awarded a degree from Staffordshire University, UK and APU

Students at Asia Pacific University are awarded a degree from Staffordshire University, UK and APU

  • The ASM does not conduct its own exams but actuarial students in Malaysia have a choice of taking any of the USA, U.K. or Australian exams from the above professional bodies.
  • The current structure for the respective exam series is briefly described below:
    • Society of Actuaries (U.S.)
      • 5 Preliminary Exams
      • Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) – 3 subjects
      • Fundamental Actuarial Practices (FAP) – 8 modules + 2 assessments
      • Associateship Professionalism Course
      • FSA Module – 2 Modules
      • FSA Exams – 2 Exams
      • Strategic Business Management Module
      • Fellowship Admissions Course
    • Institute of Actuaries (U.K.)
      • CT series exams – 9 papers

        Associate Professor Dr. Ngerng Miang Hong Ph.D, Head of Department, Actuarial Science & Applied Statistics at UCSI University

        Associate Professor Dr. Ngerng Miang Hong
        Ph.D, Head of Department, Actuarial Science & Applied Statistics at UCSI University

      • CA series exam – 3 papers
      • ST series exams – choose 2 papers from 6 areas of specialization
      • SA series exam – choose 1 paper from 6 areas of specialization
      • Professionalism course
      • Experience requirement
    • Institute of Actuaries of Australia
      • Part 1 (equivalent to UK 100 series exams)
      • Part 2 – 2 half-year subjects
      • Part 3
        • 2 compulsory papers
        • Another 2 papers from a specific practice area (choose 1 from 4 areas of specialization)
      • Practical Experience Requirement & Mentor program
      • Professionalism course

The Most Common Route in Malaysia is Taking the Professional Papers from the Society of Actuaries (SOA) – USA

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

1. Preliminary Education Component

Consists of five papers:

  • Exam P Probability (same as CAS Exam 1)
  • Exam FM Financial Mathematics (same as CAS Exam 2)
  • Exam MLC Actuarial Models – Life Contingencies Segment
  • Exam MFE Actuarial Models – Financial Economics Segment
(Completion of MLC and MFE will entitle candidate credit for CAS Exam 3)
  • Exam C Construction and Evaluation of Actuarial Models (same as CAS Exam 4)

2. Validation by Educational Experience (VEE)

Taylor's University Lakeside Campus encompasses a modern, functional design with state-of-the-art facilities together with lush greenery and its trademark 5.5 acre lake

Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus encompasses a modern, functional design with state-of-the-art facilities together with lush greenery and its trademark 5.5 acre lake

Validation of these topics is required in addition to the four Preliminary Education examinations (P/1, FM/2, MCL, MFE and C/4). The SOA, CIA, and CAS have implemented VEE requirements for the following topics:

  • VEE – Applied Statistical Methods
  • VEE – Corporate Finance
  • VEE – Economics

The VEE topics are no longer tested on in the preliminary exams. Candidates with credit for Course 2 earned prior to 2005 have been given credit for VEE – Economics and VEE – Corporate Finance topics. Candidates with credit for Course 4 earned prior to 2005 have been given credit for VEE – Applied Statistical Methods.

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.

Graduates from Asia Pacific University will receive a UK Dual Award degree from Staffordshire University. An impressive 95% of APU’s graduates obtain jobs before graduation.

3. Fundamentals of Actuarial practice (FAP)

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. Associate Professionalism Course (ACP)

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 (Effective 1 July 2013)

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).

The Pathway to Become a Qualified Professional Actuary through the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries UK

Get a top ranked UK degree in Malaysia at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries sets examinations, continuing professional development, professional codes and disciplinary standards. An actuarial qualification from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries consists of a combination of the completion of various examinations and courses.

To become an Associate or Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries you must pass the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries examinations, or be granted exemption from them, and also attain a satisfactory level of work-based skills. This usually takes between three and six years.

Fully qualified actuaries are Fellows and may bear the designations FIA or FFA while Associates bear the designations AIA or AFA. You study by distance learning, and many employers in Malaysia offer support for study, some offering paid study leave during your training.

I received a lot of in-depth information about the course & university from EduSpiral. He took us around for a campus tour as well as the hostel in Cyberjaya.
Wen Hang, Actuarial Science at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

Most of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries exams are traditional three hour papers (known as session based exams), though some practical subjects involve attending two-day or online exams (known as practical exams). You can also gain recognition for an alternative professional qualification, or undertake a research project.

Graduates from Heriot-Watt University Malaysia are able to gain exemptions from 8 of the 15 professional papers from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, UK.

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries exams come in four stages:

1. Core technical – nine subjects, all of which you need to pass or be exempted from. Most of these are traditional exams, but

subject CT9 is either a two-day residential practical exam, or an online exam. Heriot-Watt University Malaysia Actuarial Science Graduates are exempted from CT1 to CT8.

Lecture hall at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

2. Core applications – three subjects you need to pass or be exempted from. Two of these, subjects CA2 and CA3, involve either attendance at a practical exam, or an online exam.

3. Specialist technical – you need to pass or be exempted from two of the nine ST subjects available.

4. Specialist applications – you need to pass one of the seven SA subjects available. No exemptions are available.

Once you have completed the CT and CA exams, and a year’s work-based skills, you will be able to take a Professional Skills Course and qualify as an Associate.

How to Qualify as an Associate of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries (FIA) UK

Students can become Associate members of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and gain the right to describe themselves as an actuary and to use the letters AIA or AFA. As an actuary and an Associate of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries,

Heriot-Watt University Graduates

Heriot-Watt University Graduates

members have a breadth of expertise that brings wide and varied opportunities.

To become an Associate you must complete the following:

  • Core technical subjects (CT1-9) either by examination or exemption (Heriot-Watt University Graduates are exempted from CT1 to CT8)
  • Core applications subjects (CA1-3) either by examination or exemption
  • Complete one year’s worth of work-based skills in the four key dimensions of practical application of actuarial skills, professional and ethical, communication and commercial.
  • Attend a Professional Skills Course

If you wish to continue and qualify as a Fellow, you will need to take the ST and SA exams, have three years of work-based skills and take a Professional Skills Course within 12 months of transferring to Fellow.

How to Qualify as a Fellow of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries (FIA) UK

Members of the profession who wish to continue their studies to an advanced level, or who specialise in a particular actuarial

Heriot-Watt University is one of the top 20 universities in the UK

Heriot-Watt University is one of the top 20 universities in the UK

field, may take further specialist exams to qualify as a Fellow. Fellows use the letters FIA or FFA and are highly sought after as experts in their chosen field.

  • Members will be admitted to the class of Fellow on successful completion of the Associate exams (Core technical and Core applications subjects), two of the Specialist technical subjects, one of the Specialist applications subjects, and having met the work-based skills requirement.
  • 3 years of work-based skills as an Actuary
  • Attend a Professional Skills Course within 12 months of being admitted as a “Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries” (FIA)

The UK Actuarial Professional Examinations For the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries (FIA) 

Core Technical Examinations Stage Subjects for Institute and Faculty of Actuaries

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Bryan Yap, Foundation in Business at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

The Core Technical section consists of 8 written exams and a “Business Awareness Module,” CT9.

These are usually sat first by a candidate and include the underlying mathematics involved in actuarial work as well as an introduction to financial and economic issues. These are also the most common exams for which candidates may get exemptions.

Heriot-Watt University Graduates are exempted from CT1 to CT8. Therefore, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia Actuarial Science graduates need only to take the “Business Awareness Module” which is CT9.

The Core Applications section consists of a 6 hour written exam and two practical exams which focus on the application of concepts learned and a candidate’s ability to communicate actuarial concepts to others.

  • *CT1 – Financial Mathematics
  • *CT2 – Finance and Financial Reporting
  • *CT3 – Probability and Mathematical Statistics
  • *CT4 – Models
  • *CT5 – Contingencies
  • *CT6 – Statistical Methods

    Library at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

    Library at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

  • *CT7 – Business Economics
  • *CT8 – Financial Economics
  • CT9 – Business Awareness Module

*Heriot-Watt University Malaysia Actuarial Science graduates are exempted from CT1 to CT8

Core Applications Examinations Stage Subjects for Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, UK

You need to Pass all of the following Core Applications subjects:

  • CA1 – Core Applications Concepts
  • CA2 – Modelling
  • CA3 – Communications

Specialist Technical Examinations Stage Subjects for Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, UK

The Specialist Technical section is the first stage the candidate has a choice of which exams to take. The candidate chooses

Heriot-Watt University Malaysia students studying on top of the building’s green roof – the first of its kind in Malaysia

Heriot-Watt University Malaysia students studying on top of the building’s green roof – the first of its kind in Malaysia

two from the various actuarial specialist subjects i.e. Health and Care, Life Insurance, General Insurance, Pensions, Finance or Investments and further technical knowledge on said subjects is attained.

The Specialist Applications section allows the candidate to choose one area for which they take the SA paper and attain full Fellowship; leading to many referring to this as the “Fellowship paper.”

However, as the rules on the ordering of examinations were relaxed, this examination may be taken before taking some earlier examinations resulting in candidates qualifying on other papers.

Choose 2 of the following Specialist Technical Subjects:

  • ST1 – Health and Care Specialist Technical
  • ST2 – Life Insurance Specialist Technical
  • ST4 – Pensions and other Benefits Specialist Technical
  • ST5 – Finance and Investment Specialist Technical A
  • ST6 – Finance and Investment Specialist Technical B
  • ST7 – General Insurance – Reserving and Capital Modelling Specialist Technical
  • ST8 – General Insurance – Pricing Specialist Technical
  • ST9 – Enterprise Risk Management Specialist Technical

    Heriot-Watt University is rated top in the UK for student experience

    Heriot-Watt University is rated top in the UK for student experience

Specialist Applications Stage Subjects for Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, UK

Students can choose 1 of the following Specialist Applications Stage subjects and pass:

  • SA1 – Health and Care
  • SA2 – Life Insurance
  • SA3 – General Insurance
  • SA4 – Pensions and other Benefits
  • SA5 – Finance
  • SA6 – Investment

Work-Based Skills (WBS)

Practical experience requirement monitoring the development of the candidate in several key areas, supervised by an approved mentor. A minimum of three years’ actuarial work experience is required before being admitted to Fellowship.

Upon completion of the above, the candidate may be admitted as Fellow.

UK Practice Modules

A multiple choice examination testing the candidate’s knowledge in the general principles of UK Financial Services, business practices, regulation, legislation and professional guidance notes. Not required to qualify as a Fellow, but required if practising in the UK in a reserved role.

 

 

How many Professional Actuaries are there in Malaysia? Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM) Society Statistics As at 31 December 2016

Membership in the Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM) Breakdown by Class

Class Total
Fellow 156
Associate 59
Ordinary 637
Student 5
Total 857

 

Membership in the Actuarial Society of Malaysia (ASM) by Professional Body

Professional Body Total
Society of Actuaries 468
Institute & Faculty of Actuaries 251
Institute of Actuaries of Australia 50
Casualty Actuarial Society 69
Others 19
Total 857

 

Membership Breakdown of the Actuarial Society of Malaysia by Employment Category As at 31 December 2014

Employment Category Total
Life Insurance 217
Takaful 122
Composite Insurance 105
Consulting 94
Regulator 39
General Insurance 38
Reinsurance / Retakaful 26
Others 14
Total 655

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 the 2015 Robert Walters Salary Report, the salary for an actuary in Malaysia is:

4 – 7 Years Experience 8 – 12 Years Experience 12+ Years Experience
Actuaries salary 72 – 120k a year 96 – 204k a year 204k+ 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

EduSpiral Consultant Services- Your Personal Online Education Advisor

Established since 2009, EduSpiral Consultant Services helps provide information and counselling on courses and private universities in Malaysia.

EduSpiral Consultant Services represents the best colleges and universities in Malaysia offering a wide range of choices

EduSpiral explained the pathway to become an actuaries & gave facts on why Heriot-Watt is the best for actuarial science. We also toured the campus and hostel. Weng Hang, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

EduSpiral explained the pathway to become an actuaries & gave facts on why Heriot-Watt is the best for actuarial science. We also toured the campus and hostel.
Weng Hang, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

for students to choose from. These colleges and universities offer value for money in the quality of education and excellent facilities that you get.

These universities and colleges are chosen by EduSpiral because they represent the best in their fields in Malaysia and affordable. EduSpiral provides in-depth information and counseling on their courses so that students are able to make the right choice.

If you are still not sure what to study, please contact us and we will send you a free EduSpiral Career Assessment Form.

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Posted on September 25, 2013, in Accounting & Finance, Actuarial Science, APU, Asia Pacific University, Best University, Career Choices, Choosing the right course, Choosing the right university, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, Study in Malaysia, Top Universities, UCSI University, UK University and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Navanita N.Thananayagam

    My son is currently doing his AUSMAT. Interested in Actuarial Science. His current subjects are Maths Methods, Maths Specialist, Physics, Chem & English.

    Was intending to do Software Engineering now changed his mind. Pls advise which Uni he can finish all the 4yrs.

    Like

  2. Did the course need a high cost to study?

    Like

  3. Hi! May I know that the degree course of actuarial studies provided by APU is recognised by overseas?

    Like

  4. I was thinking whether I should pursue an accounting/actuarial science degree..I’m kinda confused

    Like

  5. Which is the best university in Malaysia for Actuarial Science in condition that upon my graduation,I would have completed professional exams ?

    Like

  6. ACTUARIAL SCIENCE NEEDS MORE IN MATHEMATICS MODERN OR ADDITIONAL MATHEMATICS

    Like

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