Job Demand & Salary of Professional Actuaries in Malaysia

The Job of a Professional Actuaries in Malaysia

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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.

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.

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What is Actuarial Science in Malaysia and the Job

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Min En, Actuarial Science, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

The main roles of actuaries in insurance companies are to calculate the premium for the insurance products, and

determine whether the insurance company is financially solvent. In contrast, the roles of actuaries in the finance industry are in the field of risk management and assets liabilities management. They help in assessing all possible risks and manage them before the problems surface.

Actuaries are often required to work overtime in some aggressive companies, especially when they are to meet deadlines. As such, life of an actuary can be thrilling or stressful, depending on how you perceive it.

There are two main areas in the Actuarial Department of an insurance company, which are the:

  1. Pricing Team
  2. Valuation Team

However, there has been an emerging Assets and Liabilities Management Team in some insurance companies recently. But we will only focus on the Pricing and Valuation Teams for this moment.

The Pricing team’s tasks are more challenging and exciting because the demand of an insurance product can change because

of the forces of the market. So the pricing projects are always different and novel. The pricing actuaries price the products and negotiate with the marketing department to see if the price is acceptable by the market.

To give you a better idea, the price of the product is the insurance premium that your parents pay. The pricing actuarial executives and marketing executives then go along to modify the assumptions made (e.g. assumption on mortality rate) to adjust the price until the both parties are satisfied with the price proposed.

The process can be a little bit long, but if you are the kind of person who likes to take on new challenges each day, we are sure you will have fun in it!

On the other hand, the Valuation Team’s tasks are more tedious because they are doing the monitoring work. They monitor the results of the insurance products which are already in the market to evaluate their performances and justify the assumptions made. If they notice any poor performance products, they will look into the assumptions and devise better ones.

This monitoring process is continual because actuarial solutions are shaped by the ongoing external forces of the market, such as government policies, foreign trade policies, the business environment and the global economy. In addition, the Valuation Team needs to prepare a monthly report to the government regulator.

In a nutshell, actuaries are problem solvers, in tune with what is happening in business through their interpretation of statistical data and knowledge of social and economic systems. They combine good business sense with safeguarding the public’s financial interests, upholding the highest professional standards.

Actuaries play an important role in the Malaysian society. The unique skills of actuaries are behind many high-level strategic decisions made by large companies and governments, and can have a positive impact on legislation, businesses and individuals.

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Vivian Chua, Actuarial Science at UCSI University

Actuaries are excellent risk managers. They work in the specialist areas of insurance, pensions, benefits, healthcare, investments and banking, or for any large organization where risk management plays an important role, or for a consultancy advising on all sorts of different projects.

Therefore, actuaries play very important roles in the insurance and finance industries in Malaysia. They include life insurance companies, general insurance companies, and reinsurance companies.

  1. A life insurance company is an insurance company that sells life and annuity insurance products that pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money upon the occurrence of the insured individual’s or individuals’ death or other event, such as terminal illness or critical illness.
  2. A general insurance company is an insurance company that sells general insurance or non-life insurance policies, including automobile and homeowners’ policies. The policies provide payments depending on the loss from a particular financial event. General insurance typically comprises any insurance that is not determined to be life insurance.
  3. A reinsurance company is a company that insures insurance companies’ insurance policies to minimize the insurers’ risk by transferring it to the reinsurer.

What is Actuarial Science?

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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.

The Job of an Actuaries in Malaysia

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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 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 Greatinsurance 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.

For an actuary, being good in mathematics is a must. 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!

By and large, the rewards are good. It is no secret that an actuary is one of the higher paid jobs. 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.

Summarising it all, don’t even think about being an actuary if one, you hate numbers and two, you don’t enjoy problem-solving! En route to full qualification, there are many hurdles to overcome. But for those who persevere and qualify, the rewards are well worth the effort and self-satisfaction plenty.

References
Ravinderen, K.E., “A day in the life of risky business”, The Malay Mail, pg. 15, November 12, 2001 .Chen, Mary, “What does an actuary actually do?”, Sunday Mail, pg. 47, April 18, 2004 .

What does an Actuary do?

Basically an Actuary calculates the amount of premiums to charge to a policy

Bank Negara Malaysia

Bank Negara Malaysia

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.

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.

What are the examples of actuarial work?

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Zijun, Actuarial Science at Asia Pacific University (APU)

The traditional areas in which actuaries operate 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.

Future job prospects for actuarial science professionals in Malaysia

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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. 

What are the rewards for actuarial science graduates?

Actuarial Science at UCSI University

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  • Financial – qualified actuaries have significantly higher salaries than mostother 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.

Who should become an actuary and what attributes would be of help?

To become an actuary, you will generally need to have a high-level of mathematical ability and an above-average level of intelligence. Important characteristics for an actuary to have would be as follows:

Where do most actuaries work in Malaysia?

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

Actuaries normally work in insurance

Actuaries normally work in insurance

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.

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

Public Bank

Public Bank

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.

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?

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 Salary and Career Opportunities in Malaysia

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

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 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.

The work of an actuary 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
    • 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.

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 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.

 

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