A Glimpse into the Quantitative Modelling within R Software

It is no exaggeration to say that much of our world is unrecognisable from how it was just a few months ago. The coronavirus has upended everyday life – how we live, how we work, and how we interact with one another. The vast majority of professional individuals have been mandated to work from home, and the work of the Actuarial, Insurance, Risk and Quant (AIR-Q) society has shifted to mirror this new reality. As an MSc Quantitative Finance student, being a part of a student society has been an incredibly rewarding experience allowing me to network and immerse myself in the industry I am pursuing. Despite the difficulties of our current working and studying reality, I am proud as Co-president to present another AIR-Quantitative workshop on June 15th through Zoom platform, as a part of ongoing work that our society plans to continue throughout the rest of the academic year and summer.

Adam Upenieks, MSc Quantitative Finance (2020)

Hosting an event with a fellow alumna

The event was centred around the work of Olga Ponomarenko. Currently, Olga is a VP Quant at Barclays Bank in London. Her work focuses on implementing and developing advanced statistical models in Python and R. She studied Financial Economics in the joint program of Higher School of Economics and London School of Economics and has a degree in Quantitative Finance from Cass. As a Cass alumna, she was the perfect person to host an informative workshop on real-world applied statistics, using skills she developed during her time studying Quantitative Finance at Cass. The event hosted over 60 excited individuals who were delighted to catch a glimpse into some of her modelling insights.

Olga began by polling attendees on which part of the world they had joined the online AIR-Quant workshop. It was a pleasure to see participants from all parts of the world; many from London, across Europe, to North America all the way to India, as well as South and Central Asia. The talk began with a bit of Olga’s professional background. Olga talked about the state of the industry, and in data science, the difference in approach between Statisticians, Econometricians, and Machine Learning Data Scientists.

Olga’s case study: different perspectives to solve the same problem

The bulk of the presentation was centred around a case study. The goal was to demonstrate the many perspectives one can develop from analysing just one simple problem: defining the relationship between recessions and budget deficits. Olga provided World Economic Outlook data on 196 countries and took participants through a variety of techniques to break down the data. She performed naïve and Beta regressions, administered an Arellano-Bond GMM procedure to single out causality, and then applied a Bayesian approach while also displaying the importance of hierarchical models.

Opening up the floor

The presentation ended with a question and discussion period. Olga answered questions on the current state quant jobs in the industry. She gave meaningful advice to participants pondering looming career moves and to those of us soon to be starting our first quant jobs in the industry. She gave great advice on potential interview questions, which programming languages are most desirable for new hires, and specific topics to be aware of before entering any interview in the quant field. She provided us with a primer for interviews in Quantiative Finance, which can be found here. She also took us through a typical day as a Quant at Barclays and proffered the importance of staying up to date on academic literature.

Some participants later joined the discussion to share their journeys into data science – some who began with very little quantitative backgrounds and grew to be successful in their fields. Others shared their favourite programming languages and packages. Overall, the interactive event was enlightening to those of us interested in quantitative disciplines and could not have been hosted by a more qualified and remarkable guest. The Cass AIR-Quant society was delighted to host Olga Ponomarenko, and we look forward to hosting her again in the future as guest for planned AIR-Q Forum Women in Quant Finance.

Thank you!

The Presidents and the founder of the Cass AIR-Q Society Rocio Plasencia, Juan Sebastian De La Torre, Evangelos Santas, Lucy Nondi, David Flanigan, Adam Upenieks and Peter V would like to deliver special thanks to the Cass events team, the participants, and especially Olga Ponomarenko for her remarkable presentation and her insightful view on the continuously changing world of Quantitative Finance.

Adam Upenieks, MSc Quantitative Finance (2020)

The impact of Covid-19 on the insurance sector

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge and devastating impact across the world with its ramifications starting to be discerned across various sectors such as health, finance and aviation. This has threatened the global supply chain which resulted in an economic stall.

The insurance industry has not been spared with new questions arising as the crisis unfolds. Stakeholders want to understand the business’ exposure to the virus as well as what the future holds for the insurance market.

As an MSc Actuarial Management student, joining a student society and hosting events that impact the professional sector I am training has added a lot of value to my studying experience. As Co-President of the Actuarial, Insurance, Risk and Quants Society (AIR-Q), it was an honour to work on the ‘Impact of COVID-19 on the insurance sector’ webinar. The session was AIR-Q Society’s take on investigating and tackling these issues. The event’s keynote speakers, Mr Michael Tripp, Mr Dimitrios Velmachos and Mr Asif John, gave their thoughts on the implications of the pandemic to the UK insurance market, risk management techniques and the future of data analytics in modelling insurance products. The speakers also addressed any questions posed by the attendees based on their vast knowledge and experience in insurance. The event was hosted and moderated by one of our society Co-presidents, David Flanigan.

Why Covid-19 is not a ‘black swan’

This question was initiated by Mr Velmachos, an entrepreneur and insurance executive by profession. He highlighted that the black swan notion was brought about by the theories discussed by Nassim Taleb in his book, ‘The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable’.

The notion was based on the similarities between Covid-19 and author’s definition of a black swan.

According to the definition: First, nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme ‘impact.’ Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

Dimitrios explained that the pandemic does not fully satisfy the properties of a black swan. In fact, many warned the pandemic would happen, including influential people like Bill Gates who clearly stated that the world was not ready for the next pandemic.

With such discussions setting the mood for the forum, the speakers then delved into the insurance world by giving presentations on how various classes of insurance have been impacted in the UK.

Impact on general insurance

Mr Tripp’s discussion focused on the impact of Covid-19 on general insurance segments. As a general insurance actuary working at Mazars UK, Michael stated that actions taken by the government to curb the spread of the virus has resulted in a myriad of general insurance claims. For instance, several corporations have been counting their losses following regulations by the government to close business providing non-essential services. As a result, there has been an increase in business interruption claims prompting insurers to review their policy wordings.

Michael further stated that travel insurance business has also experienced an influx of claims due to cancellation of flights after many states issued travel bans. This argument was also backed up by Mr Asif John, an actuary by profession and founder of ARGenesis consultancy, who emphasised that many travel insurance policies did not exclude coronavirus from cover. Hence, insurers are expected to settle any claim that may arise from these policies.

John highlighted that classes such as commercial liability lines and credit insurance are likely to encounter significant losses in the long haul. For example, a number of health workers have taken to legal action against the NHS claiming negligence by the government in ensuring that personal protective equipment was delivered on time, thereby endangering their lives.

Nonetheless, some general insurance lines have had better claim experience since the pandemic emerged in late 2019 as pointed out by both Michael and John. Classic examples include motor insurance and household contents whereby fewer claims have been reported due to the imposed lockdown. This move by the government resulted in many individuals normalising working from home, thereby leading to a significant reduction in the use of vehicles. With fewer cars on our roads, there have been fewer accidents occurring.

There has also been a reduction in theft leading to fewer burglary claims reported. However, Michael also brought out the fact that the lockdown has also resulted in companies relying on IT systems to deliver value to their clients. As such, there might be an increase in claims relating to cyber risk in the future, and insurers should thus tighten their policy wordings on this cover.

Impact on life and health insurance

The impact on both life and health insurance seems to go hand in hand due to the short timeframe between diagnosis and death. This has led to an increase in both the morbidity and mortality experiences as highlighted by John. The country’s health insurance sector is thus facing losses as a result of the high number of coronavirus cases. The dramatic reduction of health workers available to attend to other serious cases such as cancer will exacerbate future morbidity experience.

Besides the significant impact on mortality, Michael also pointed out that the shock experienced in the financial markets will also impact life insurance companies. This stems from the fact that they have long term liabilities and as such tend to hold long term assets. Extreme market volatility will negatively impact both the income and capital on these assets such as equity, thereby creating tremendous asset-liability management risks.

Data analysis as a tool for risk management

Being an AI and data science specialist, Asif stressed the importance of data analytics to the current situation, in particular, areas which actuaries should start focusing on. Adoption of data techniques through the use of advanced models will, therefore, succour in eliminating data issues at the input stage leading to credible forecasting.

Analysis of data at a granular level is also key for insurance companies as highlighted by Dimitrios. Granularity helps in properly understanding the data thus making aggregation of datasets into different segments easier. Better risk management techniques may also be identified as a result of having detailed data as risks will be classified and assessed homogenously.

Dimitrios also touched on the importance of incorporating epidemiological features in the modelling process in order to expand the dimensions of the output. This will help in analysing the worst-case scenario hence help in pricing and reserving and proper risk management.

What does the future hold for insurers?

Insurers need to seize some of the opportunities arising out of this crisis. It is clear that the traditional distribution channels have been disrupted indicating the need for accelerated digital transformation. Process optimisation is inevitable for insurers as working from home has become the new norm. The introduction of additional covers such as telemedicine will also be a boost to the insurance penetration in the future.

Thank you!

Being part of AIR-Q has been an incredible addition to my master’s experience: I have gained much deeper knowledge of the actuarial field, networked and built many new friendships. Myself and my fellow Co-Presidents of AIR-Q Society (Rocio Plasencia, Juan Sebastian De La Torre, Evangelos Santas,  Adam Upenieks, David Flanigan and Peter Vodička) would like to thank the speakers, attendees and the Business School’s events team for making this webinar a success. Special thanks also go to Leon Cuthbertson from the events team for assisting with the event. We’d always like to hear your thoughts, so follow us on LinkedIn or  Instagram!

Lucy Nondi, MSc Actuarial Management (2020)

Career advice for insurance and risk management students

Join a student society to network and learn

As an MSc Insurance and Risk Management student, I jumped at the opportunity to join the Actuarial, Insurance, Risk, and Quants Society (AIR-Q) as one of the Co-Presidents. Joining AIR-Q Society has been an excellent way to build my network and to delve deeper into the field I want to pursue a career in by speaking to alumni working in the sector.

How to break into the insurance industry

As a soon-to-be MSc Insurance and Risk Management alumnus, it is crucial to understand what to expect in the future which is why it was incredibly rewarding to work on hosting a webinar in May with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), Insurance Institute of London (IIL) and AIR-Q. The session was specifically aimed at master’s students interested in following a career in the insurance industry.

We had more than 30 attendees join the forum with questions for our panel of six, including three alumni, led by Vivine Cameron. I am very grateful to the six panellists who shared their career advice and professional trajectories. They were:

  • Vivine Cameron: Education Partnerships Manager
  • Afsar Ali: Cyber Analyst at Guy Carpenter (alumnus)
  • Amanda Yek: Actuarial Placement Analyst at Markel International
  • Irem Yerdelen: Client & Business Development Director, Corporate Risk & Broking segment, Willis Towers Watson (alumnus)
  • Louise Healy: Recruitment Consultant at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty
  • Stephanie Nightingale: Head of Risk Reporting and Underwriting Risk Oversight at Chaucer Syndicates

 

The different career paths in insurance

There are plenty of roles involved in the insurance businesses, such as underwriting, claims, brokering and loss adjustment among others. Which path you decide to pursue will depend on your abilities, your interests and which path is most dynamic when you are graduating. During my master’s studies, I gained a better understanding and deep insights into the industry. Topics like insurtech, digitalisation and startups are trending in the insurance industry.  There is a lot of space for innovation and many companies are developing new tech and generating brand new products that are more transparent, are easier to understand and are increasingly accessible to existing or unique customers, which makes it a very exciting time to enter the industry.

A fast-track to being awarded CII professional certifications

One of the benefits of studying the MSc Insurance and Risk Management at Cass is the possibility to study modules which award credits towards the professional CII certifications. Thanks to Vivine, we were able to understand the advanced benefits we will have towards our CII qualifications. She provided us with unique guidance on which insurance roles exist. Asfar Ali, Cyber Analyst at Guy Carpenter shared valuable tips into which  next steps we need to take to be awarded the CII diploma and spoke about company sponsorship to receive the qualifications.

Career advice from our panellists: enjoy the process

Each future graduates is different. We have unique skill sets and distinctive ambitions in short-term and long-term.  The majority of us are concerned as to which career path we might follow now and in the near months. Irem Yerdelen, an alumna and the Client & Business Development Director, Corporate Risk & Broking segment at Willis Tower Watson is a fellow graduate of the MSc Insurance and Risk Management. Irem was able to tell the online attendees how the course benefitted her career. Her professional journey started in Istanbul and after pursuing her master’s degree, she decided to stay in London to pursue her career. Irem gave an important message: “doing a master’s is a great step for your career. When looking for a job, think about which option is the best for you but don’t forget to enjoy the process!”

Job-searching online

Due to the significant changes the insurance sector and many dependent sectors are facing, job-searching is going to be completely different from what it used to be. Most recruitment processes and interviews will be fully online. Louise Healy, Recruitment Consultant at Allianz, talked about her experience in the recruitment sector and gave us some valuable insights. Louise highlighted how candidates need to demonstrate their soft skills and suggested we show our genuine personality, saying, “Be natural, show who you really are.”

Thank you!

Myself and my fellow Co-Presidents of AIR-Q Society (Rocio Plasencia, Evangelos Santas, Lucy Nondi, David Flanigan, Adam Upenieks, and Peter Vodička) would like to deliver a special thanks to guest speakers for a great session and for answering all the audience questions.

Juan Sebastián de la Torre, MSc Insurance and Risk Management (2020)

 

Landing a job in China

Joining a student society: my experience in the Cass Chinese Career Society (CCS)

As an MSc Business Analytics student, I’ve found being a Co-President of a student society one of the most rewarding experiences of my studies, as I’ve allowed to practise some of the skills I learned in the events we host. One of the greatest things about joining a student society is that you get to surround yourself with amazing people. They are your peers, alumni or guests that you may never have had the opportunity to know if you hadn’t decided to click on that event link. They all shine in a way or another and may inspire you at some point in your life when you are least expected to be inspired but need it the most.

In a career-focused society like the Cass Chinese Career Society (CCCS), we are all working hard towards the same goal so you can find the support you need to pull you through the sometimes inevitable difficult times when you are overwhelmed by the interviews and tests that you need to get prepared for while carrying the burden of your coursework piling up. 

Landing a job in China

The ‘Landing a job in China – International Banks’ webinar was the second in the series of employability webinars hosted by Cass Chinese Career Society (CCCS). For students who are considering a banking career, this webinar was particularly useful as it invited three Cass alumni who now work in HSBC and Standard Charted in China and are at different stages of their professional life.

Attending the webinar

As a quick response to the unprecedented change starting in March due to the pandemic, CCCS introduced a series of employability webinars that focus specifically on exploring job options in China. Each webinar was generally divided into two parts: a discussion of the alumni’s daily work life, their career advice and tips, followed by a Q&A session. With an economic outlook that may worry some students, at CCCS, we felt organising these webinars could help our current students gain insight from alumni to prepare for the future.

105 students joined the Wechat group chat for the International Bank webinar while 45 students joined live on Cisco Webex platform. This webinar was very well received by our participants. The group chat was filled with gratitude when the webinar ended with a few students commented it gave them a lot more confidence in job-hunting during this difficult time.

Top tips to securing a job in China

Aside from key skillsets such as communication, leadership, analytical skills and teamwork, graduate schemes for foreign banks in China pay great attention to whether the candidate presents a good match with the company culture. For example, HSBC’s culture is ‘Open, Dependable and Connected’, so it can be very useful to think before the interview about how one’s experience and the way you behave can show these key values. For Standard Chartered in China, the company prefers candidates with a more proactive personality and who show great potential for business expansion. Despite the positions being based in China, English will be used mostly throughout the application process.

Another great piece of advice we get from the alumnus is about application strategy. To better manage risk in the process, it is advised to divide the applications into top, medium and low levels of difficulty of being selected. If you are interested in a career in finance, you can try applying for positions in different sub-sections a bit more widely such as securities, private equity, venture capital, trust fund etc. and then compare the offers.

Learning more about the banking industry in China

In general, banks have a very clear career path such as ‘Analyst – Associate – Associate Director – Director – Managing Director’ while the name of the positions may vary across banks. People are usually promoted every 2-5 years depending on own performance. Graduates in international banks have overall good credibility in the job market and therefore more choices in their following career development.

The alumni also talked about the responsibility, challenges and benefits of different job positions they have been in such as front desk roles, credit analyst and graduate role in detail. A detailed summary of the webinar content can be found in this article in Mandarin.

Iris Wang, MSc Business Analytics

 

Studying online: Beating shyness and becoming closer to my classmates

2020 has been an unusual for everyone due to Covid-19. Studying and working online is the new normal for most people.

My name is Dilin Chen and I am studying the Cass MSc in Entrepreneurship. I would like to share my online learning experiences, which might be beneficial for prospective students who might be wondering what it is like to learn online.

Moodle: an online hub of resources

We use the online platform Moodle as a support tool for in-class teaching. Since shifting to online learning, it has become even more important. It provides all the basic information you might need to know, such as your lecture timetable, information about your modules, the contact and the contact details of lecturers and students. It also allows you to choose elective modules, form groups for group coursework and provides you with the login information to access Zoom and Adobe Connect, which are the main softwares we use for online lectures. They both have important functions which are very useful to make the lectures interactive and to support students’ participation.

Zoom and Adobe Connect classes

Most of the lecturers encourage us students to turn on the video to see our facial expressions to understand whether we have questions or comments. This helps us to stay connected with the class and give our full attention and keep us motivated. During the class, we are encouraged to speak up and ask our lecturers questions like we would normally do in a face-to-face classes. If you feel shy to speak during the lecture, you could send an email or discuss the problem in Forum, which is a function allowing teachers and students to discuss on Moodle at the end of the class.

PowerPoint is available during classes and the lecturers sometimes use the polling function in Zoom to check how we are doing and understand our progress. If you have missed the lecture, you can watch a recorded version soon after class on Moodle

Some lectures provide pre-recorded videos to give more useful information. The reading list is mainly online, which can be found in the digital library provided by the School. We can also access a wide variety of resources, journal articles and digital books for all our subjects.

Beating shyness through interactive online learning

During my classes, the teachers make us use the break-out rooms function, which allows us to work in small online groups to discuss given questions. Here, the teachers randomly select people to join the group discussion. I find this method very powerful because it allows me to step out of my comfort zone by chatting to people I might not normally chat to and make new friends. It is such a gift to study with people from all different backgrounds and nationalities, which is very beneficial to learn about different thinking styles and cultures and keep me connected to my peers.

I am an introvert, which sometimes make me afraid to speak out in front of people in class. In the online learning setting, I feel more confident to ask questions and have more interactions with my lecturers.

Online careers support

The Careers and Professional Development Team have been great at keeping us informed with job offers and providing one-to-one online meeting sessions to help us shape our careers. The careers coaching advisors have been available throughout and have been an excellent resource to help me edit my CV and cover letter as well as discussing my options for career development. There are also a lot of careers coaching events being hosted by the Cass Careers Team.

I have been positively surprised by this new experience of online learning. I have really appreciated it so far, as well as the opportunity to study from home.

Dilin Chen, MSc Entrepreneurship (2020)

 

Knowledge, memories and friendship: what I cherish from my MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation

My first exposure to the world of marketing was quite early on in my life. My father is an entrepreneur and runs an advertising and marketing agency. During my school days, I used to visit his office and observe the creative teamwork on building brands and campaigns. In hindsight, I believe that this is when I subconsciously decided to delve into and explore the field of marketing.

The Cass MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation has been one of the most intriguing courses I’ve ever studied. I find myself facing new and exciting challenges every day. I continuously look forward to learning more from my professors, who are some of the best academics and practitioners in the field. Studying at Cass has made me even more curious about the dynamic world of marketing.

Cass gives you the opportunity to put the knowledge that you learn in class to use in the practical world. We worked with real companies to help them with their marketing and branding strategies! That experience was an eye-opener and I cannot thank Cass and our professors enough for equipping us with the skillset to fight our own battles in the real world of marketing, as well as learning how to improvise by keeping us on our toes.

I have participated in exciting group challenges and presentations, individual assignments, workshops, come up with innovative ideas for projects, worked till midnight to meet deadlines and learned how to be a part of a team.

Being elected as the President of the Marketing and Strategy Society was yet another learning experience. I truly recommend joining a student society to learn something outside of what is being taught in class. Exploring other fields of marketing and strategy while networking with so many people and learning something from each person you meet is an incredible experience.

Despite the challenges of Covid-19, I still choose to look at the positive outcomes of my past six months at Cass: I have grown as a person, I have become a better marketeer with lots of new creative strategies and I have become a friend to so many new people. I cherish the knowledge I have gained, the memories I have made and the friends who have become family.

To all of you out there looking for the courage to step out of your comfort zone by moving to another country to learn more about your passion, I would like to quote Paulo Coelho and say, “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” Believe in yourself and challenge yourself to achieve everything you have ever dreamt of.

Anushi Chadha, MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation (2020)

MSc Banking and International Finance: A Programme for Global Perspective

Following my undergraduate studies in economics and finance at McGill University in Montreal, I knew I held a strong interest in mergers and acquisitions as a field of study. As a specialisation, it opens up career opportunities at the intersection of management consulting and investment banking.

Before entering the job market, I wanted to gain specialist knowledge relevant to my desired career path. Upon thorough research online and further discussion with mentors, the Cass MSc Banking and International Finance stood out among a number of excellent alternatives in the UK and around the world – I felt that Cass was somewhere I could continue to be challenged and develop.

Having grown up in a number of countries, including China, Finland, Canada, Malaysia, Switzerland, the U.S., Poland and the UK, ensuring that I join a class full of diverse and varied perspectives was of critical importance to me. I have always felt that while sticking to what is familiar may be comfortable, the best way to ensure continued growth is to gain exposure to as many more views and experiences as possible. The MSc Banking and International Finance programme at Cass appeared to propose exactly this sort of exposure, in tandem with academic rigour and clear opportunity for professional development – so I submitted an application.

And, nearly a full year later, I am excited to say that my experience has been phenomenal! I have not only gained the specialist knowledge I sought, but also the confidence to execute in practical application in a number of different areas – all under the guidance of a group of professors, consisting of both leading academics and experienced practitioners in their respective fields, who remain supportive with respect to my career aspirations and with whom I will be sure to keep in touch.

Finance & Banking Club Team

Participation in group events and dialogues outside of the classroom is a key aspect of student life at Cass, and as a Co-President of the Cass Finance and Banking Society and member of the M&A and PE and Consulting Societies – amongst others – I have had the opportunity to lead friends and colleagues in engaging with our shared interests through many workshops, simulation events, panel discussions and socials. Cass’s location in the heart of the City of London provides unparalleled access to a range of different firms and professionals in banking and business and truly allows interactive events with experienced professionals to be commonplace, rather than a rarity. I even have had the chance to practise my French, German and Russian with classmates and through a few of the many language-focused student societies on campus!

As a Programme Representative, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to liaise between my classmates and professors and put together social events for my class. As a class, we were able to share feedback and work together with faculty members with the collective aim of making the MSc Banking and International Finance offering stronger with each passing year.

Perhaps most invaluably, I have gained a new family of friends and classmates from all over the world who, while hailing from wildly different backgrounds and experience, share a passion for finance and drive for lifelong learning.

Wyatt Himmer, MSc Banking and International Finance (2020)

Will AI replace actuaries?

What is data science and how is it related to actuaries?

That is the main question that Mr Dimitrios Velmachos and Mr Michael Tripp, our keynote speakers aimed to answer in the Actuarial, Insurance, Risk and Quants Society’s latest forum.

As an MSc Actuarial Management student, I’ve greatly benefitted from being part of the Actuarial, Insurance, Risk and Quants Society (AIR-Q) as Co-President. Meeting key industry leaders and discussing developments in the sector has enhanced what I’ve learned in my studies.

Students and alumni who attended were eager to understand what trending topic of AI means for their future careers.

Mr Velmachos wears many hats: he is an entrepreneur, an Insurance Executive and an actuary. He has extensive international experience in the fields of finance, insurance and reinsurance. His main area of focus is utilising his technological skills in advising his clients on how to deliver value to the insurance industry.

As the first presenter for the forum, Dimitrios discussed how data analytics are transforming the insurance industry. He talked about the algorithms currently in use for risk assessment, claims handling and policy administration. One of the best illustrations he gave was how technology is being used in China to determine the morbidity rate applicable to a policyholder seeking out an income protection policy. By using AI, the insurer can know information such as the client’s lifestyle, health status and even the age without the need of filling out the proposal form. This trend has thus helped curb the uncertainty involved in determining the appropriate cover to be charged.

Mr Velmachos further explained how the data ecosystem has changed when it comes to pricing and reserving in general insurance. Insurers are now investing in advanced systems that can accommodate more data points, unlike ten years ago when actuaries had to rely on Excel as the primary data storage tool. As a result, more data groupings can be accommodated by this modern software which has resulted in better pricing of insurance products.

The speaker also highlighted how the use of telematics has improved policyholder behaviour in motor insurance, thus reducing the number of claims significantly. The use of Google Maps in property insurance has also helped mitigate fraudulent claims arising from such cover. By using such examples, Mr Velmachos concluded that data science is a significant contributor to the digitisation of the world of insurance.

Data Science and the IfoA

Our final speaker Mr Tripp talked about how the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) have started embracing data science by offering courses and assessment to its current members in partnership with the Royal Statistical Society. Being a general insurance actuary with over 40 years of experience in the insurance industry, Michael can comfortably say he has been part of the transformation. Being part of the data science steering committee in the IFoA council, he has helped push forward this transformation.

 

Michael emphasised that the council aims to reposition the actuarial profession by enhancing members’ experience based on what is currently happening in international markets. It is for this reason that the team considered it wise to include elements of programming to some of the professional papers offered by the body to build skills and maintain professional competence.

In his concluding speech, Michael also agreed with Mr Velmachos by stating how artificial intelligence has aided time series prediction, data analysis and modelling and optimising logistics. Thus, by applying these features, AI has been able to use cognitive reasoning in the decision-making process.

What Does the Future Hold for Actuaries?

So, what does this mean for the actuarial profession? Will AI surpass human intelligence in such a way that fewer actuaries will be needed in the future? These, among other questions, were discussed at length during the panel session led by Dr Zoltan Butt, a senior lecturer at Cass Business School and our event moderator for the Cass AIR-Q Actuarial Forum.

 

 

Both speakers disagreed with this notion as actuaries will stay play a big role in making data science a success. It is apparent most systems require some form of human interaction to execute a job. Thus, AI will help make work easier for the role that actuaries play in the insurance and finance market. Dimitrios also stated that although it is not a requirement for excelling in the profession, it would be advantageous for student members to learn some element of programming language.

Michael highlighted that the decision between needing humans or machines is more a philosophical debate. The answer will depend on how you see intelligence: is intelligence natural or artificial?

Thanks to AIR-Q and Cass!

The Cass AIR-Q Actuarial Forum was an eye-opener for the attendees as they were given a chance to interact with the speakers during the networking session that followed the panel discussion. The society aims to bridge the knowledge gap between our student members and the industry— and I can say the forum did justice to this goal.

Myself and the fellow Co-Presidents of AIR-Q Society (Rocio Plasencia, Juan Sebastian De La Torre, Evangelos Santas, Lucy Nondi, David Flanigan, Adam Upenieks and Peter Vodička) would like to deliver special thanks to our speakers, our moderator, and the entire Cass Business School events team. We would also like to congratulate the audience who participated in making the event an engaging one.

The AIR-Q Society will also like to thank the LSE Actuarial Society representatives that came to offer their support. We are looking forward to meeting you in the next academic year but in the meantime, stay safe and follow the regulation of the government towards fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Lucy Nondi, MSc Actuarial Management (2020)

My top 3 tips for acing your job-search

I am Iris Wang, a MSc Business Analytics student at Cass.

As one of the Presidents of Cass Chinese Careers Society, I manage the society’s public relations. Through our events with top recruiters and companies and the support of the Careers Team, I have learned many things about how to ace your job search and become more confident at networking.

Here are my top three tips:

1. Getting all the help you can get! Smartly use resources

One piece of enlightening advice can really make a difference in your job application and who knows, it may help you secure a job offer. As students at Cass, we have access to various careers resources. It is useful to get professional guidance by checking out different workshops, company presentations and 1:1 appointments with the Careers team and resources on Cass Careers Online. Going to careers society events (such as Cass Chinese Careers Society) is also a great way to seek extra help and to network and get invaluable personal advice from people who have already been through the process.

If you have interests or query about a certain sector/company/position, proactively asking professionals on LinkedIn and inviting them for a coffee chat can help you obtain more useful insights and potentially expand your professional network.

2. Focus – learn more about yourself and what you want

Choosing a career path can be very overwhelming. But instead of applying to every position available, it is more efficient if one can analyse own personal strengths and personality and then consider their compatibility with the position. A good understanding of that compatibility can help the candidates to better convince the recruiters and therefore makes them more likely to succeed. To be able to deepen this understanding, it is always useful to learn more about a particular career path through networking and explore different activities to increase self-awareness.

3. Maintaining a positive attitude – strike a good balance in life

Getting a job is usually not a straightforward process for most people. There will be ups and downs and sometimes, a lot of downs… and it is perfectly normal.

When experiencing that, it is important to surround yourself with like-minded aspiring people who can give you support to keep you going. You should also make your own effort to strike a better balance in life by improving your planning and time management skills and actively think about how to improve yourself by learning from past experience. Don’t give up! And try not to be too hard on yourself. If any of you who are reading this blog happens to be going through difficulties, believe me I understand your frustration. It is always important to improve your skills to get an offer, but honestly, it also needs a bit of luck sometimes. Good luck!

Iris Xuan Wang, MSc Business Analytics (2020)

The Future of Actuaries

Choosing Cass

I studied pure mathematics in my undergraduate degree but was already interested pursuing a career as an actuary. I became an intern in a life insurance company as an actuary and later became a full-time employee after graduation.

In my experience, life insurance products tend to have complex and long policy terms, which become a challenge for actuaries to quantify the risks and calculate the optimum premium and reserves. I found this challenging yet fun because the problem could vary every time and the products themselves are getting more innovative, which brings a whole new level of calculation complexity. These are the reasons I wanted to pursue my career as an actuary in the life insurance industry.

I decided to continue learning by studying the Cass MSc Actuarial Science. I wanted to increase my mathematical and statistical skills, with a focusing on the actuarial field, as well as broaden my knowledge of the applications of actuarial science.

Cass is well-known for its MSc Actuarial Science programme. The School offers broad and varied accredited actuarial science modules which allows students up to six actuarial exam exemptions. The assessment in most modules are a real-life application and are carried out using essential software such as R, VBA and Excel. In addition, there are also options for student to take business analytics modules which is really what got me really interested in the first place and helped me decide where to study.

The Future of Actuaries

The ever-growing trend of business digitalisation is pushing a lot of companies to require people with technical skills related to big data platforms and automation. Companies will need more people with the ability to analyse large amounts of raw data, manipulate it, and create an algorithm to transform it into something functional for the company to then visualise the result. That is where a business analyst plays an important role.

While it is true that business analysts are needed in every sector, in the financial sector and the insurance and investment industries, business analysts require a combination of strong data analysis skills as well as the ability to quantify future risks. In these cases, an actuary can fulfil these requirements.

Combining actuarial science and business analytics: preparing for my future career

What I think will be the most useful technique of business analysis for my career is machine learning. As an actuary, I will be dealing with a lot of data to make some assumptions out of it to predict future risks. It became a much more challenging thing in life insurance where actuaries were required to predict long-term future risks based on historical data. Machine learning could help clean the data by predicting missing values or even predict new variables using unsupervised techniques.

Frequent analysis of the data is also common for actuaries, whether it is to calculate monthly reserve, performance monitoring, or premium re-calculation for Yearly Renewable products. Machine learning could speed up the process by fitting all of the analysis models and validate the result much quicker.

Muhammad Alhavif, MSc Actuarial Science (2020)

*From September 2020, Cass Business School will be launching the MSc in Actuarial Science with Business Analytics pathway, which prepares students for the non-traditional actuarial field of business analytics.

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