Best Education Pathway to become a Professional Actuaries in Malaysia
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To study and become a professional actuary in Malaysia can be lengthy and complicated. In this article we will discuss about the best education pathway for students after high school to take in order to become a professional actuary in Malaysia.
Students in Malaysia who are not sure of about the education pathway to become an actuaries can contact EduSpiral Consultant Services to help guide you to choose the best university in Malaysia for the actuarial science degree programme.
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Studying Actuarial Science in Malaysia & the Pathway to Become a Professional Actuary
Actuarial science is the discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in insurance, finance and other industries and professions. Actuaries are experts who design products like these to look after people’s financial needs and to protect their financial interests: part of their work is to try to predict what money will do when it is invested.
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?
The pathway to become a professional actuary in Malaysia can be long. A normal bachelor degree in actuarial science takes 3 years to complete. 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.
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)
What you Will Study in Actuarial Science in Malaysia
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.
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.
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:
- Define the problem
- Design the solution
- 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
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.
Qualifying to become a professional Actuary in Malaysia
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:
- Society of Actuaries (U.S.)
- Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (UK)
- Faculty of Actuaries (Scotland)
- Institute of Actuaries of Australia
- Canadian Institute of Actuaries
- Casualty Actuarial Society (U.S.)
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 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?
The Actuaries Society of Malaysia (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 professional bodies. The most popular professional exams are from the Society of Actuaries (SOA), USA and the Institute of Actuaries (IFoA), UK.
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
- 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 and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) UK Curriculum 2019
- Core Principles subjects (7 Subjects)
- Core Practices subjects (CP1, CP2 and CP3) either by examination or exemption
- Two Specialist Principles (SP1, SP2, SP4, SP5, SP6, SP7, SP8 and SP9) subjects either by examination or exemption
- One Specialist Advanced (SA1, SA2, SA3, SA4 and SA7) subject by examination or dissertation
- Personal and Professional Development (PPD)
- Professional Skills Course (PSC)
- Online Professional Awareness Test (OPAT)
- 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