Month: April 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.

Work and study from home: how to stay productive

Remote work has become our new reality, especially in 2020.

A lot of us are new to working or studying from home. It can be challenging to organise our work processes in our homes. As a Cass MSc Global Finance student, my programme is taught online so I have unique insights into how to study effectively at home.

Here are my top three tips that help me stay productive while working and studying from home:

  1. Create a schedule

For me, the benefit of studying from home is that I do not need to follow a typical 9-to-5 schedule. While you need to be present online during normal working hours to be able to contact your colleagues and classmates and join meetings, you also have the opportunity to optimise your day according to your productivity.

Figure out what your peak workflow times are by writing down your state of mind throughout the day. Some people would rather get all of their hard work out the way in the morning, even before breakfast, while others can only start thinking clearly after lunch and reach the top of their productivity by late night, like I do. Luckily, working from home means that no matter which category you fall into, you have the choice of making a schedule that best suits your peak workflow times.

Separating your working hours from personal time is helpful too. I always include regular breaks in my schedule. I use five to 45 minutes of rest every few hours to do things like home workouts, making another cup of tea or coffee, reading the news or even scrolling through my Instagram feed. I don’t consider my break times as a working time, otherwise, I’d be frustrated by the fact I’ve been working all day long!

  1. Dress for work

I think home clothes are so comfortable! However, they make me feel too relaxed and don’t motivate to study and work. A business-casual look would be the best option for me for working from home.

The smarter you look while working from home, the more dedication you show to yourself and your peers. If you were used to taking a shower and shaving every day for the office or university, keep doing it at home too.

  1. Make a to-do list

I am a firm believer in making to-do lists, with one caveat: don’t make it too long! The optimal size for me is three to seven tasks per day. It’s easier for me to arrange the whole week in advance by evenly spreading my plans throughout the week.

Why should it be short? Because there are going to be some unexpected or urgent tasks coming up throughout the day that you didn’t expect. Your schedule has to be flexible to manage those cases. If it’s already full, it means you’ll have to delay tasks to another day, which has a knock-on effect on your next day and I know the disappointment of having uncompleted tasks in your to-do list at the end of the day. To-do lists help you to see your work progress and keep you motivated.

Following these three simple rules, I can stay productive when I’m self-isolating and I can achieve even more goals right from my home. I hope my experience will be helpful to you too.

Stay safe and work hard!

Nikita Kozachenko, MSc Global Finance (2020)

How I’m preparing for a career as a modern actuary

Choosing Cass 

I am an MSc Actuarial Science student at Cass Business School. I aspire to pursue a career in the non-traditional actuarial field of business analytics.

Prior to studying at Cass, I studied BSc Mathematics at the University of Birmingham. After graduating from my bachelor’s, I wanted to learn more about actuarial science in insurance, finance and investment. I knew that actuarial studies would be the ideal combination of mathematical and probabilistic techniques and analysis of business and would allow me to combine my greatest passions.

Based in the City of London, Cass is in an ideal location for finding a job post-graduation. In addition, our excellent lecturers have deep industry knowledge and understanding of current affairs and offer us the knowledge we need to learn.

All these factors motivated me to study the MSc in Actuarial Science at Cass.

Actuaries: the future of business analytics

By following the new curriculum of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, Cass offers a detailed study of actuarial computer-based applications in R and Python programming and VBA. Given the excellent skill set acquired via these, I am developing my knowledge of analytics methods for business and machine learning, all of which are being adopted across actuarial practice areas.

I like this course structure, not only because it delivers the fundamentals of actuarial science, but also offers computer-based applications and modules on analytics methods for business and machine learning. These tools are very useful for my career path. I want to become a non-traditional actuary equipped with strong technical skills.

Help from the Careers Team

With the support of Cass Careers Team, I have already attended many workshops and I have booked numerous 1:1 appointments to help me apply for jobs in the UK. I feel more confident in answering competency questions and doing video interviews. I really appreciate the careers coaches because they have helped me gain confidence and realise where my personal strengths lie.

Studying at Cass Business School has enriched my understanding of actuarial science and improved my commercial awareness. I look forward to seeing what the future holds.

Yiqi Chang, MSc Actuarial Science (2020)

 If you’d like to find out more about Yiqi’s experience or have any general questions about studying on a master’s degree at Cass, contact her on our Ask a student platform.

*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.

Exploring Frankfurt, the financial capital of the Eurozone

One of the main reasons Cass is so highly rated is because of its international outlook. Cass has a number of international electives for the master’s courses and this year, the MSc Finance travelled to Frankfurt for a trip based around the European Central Bank (ECB).

Day 1

During our first day in Frankfurt, we had a walking tour organised in the east end of Frankfurt and the area surrounding the new ECB building. It was a great informative tour on how the area has developed from a working-class neighbourhood to the home of the ECB as well as a large number of apartment blocks. In the afternoon, we had a talk organised at the Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof. The talk illuminated the strengths and the weaknesses of the German economy and the general culture of businesses within the country. After the talk, we were offered tickets to catch the views of the city from the top of the main tower.

Day 2

Day 2 started with a trip to the ECB building. The mainpurpose of this trip was to attend a talk by economists on how Brexit will have an effect on the UK as well as the rest of EU. This was a very interesting talk as it gave us a great insight into what to expect in the future in relation to Brexit and what has already happened in the UK and EU because of Brexit. Following the talk, we had a tour of the Geldmuseum at the Deutsche Bundesbank. The tour consisted of the history of the euro as well as the history of money, how money originated and what different civilisations used as money.  After our time in the museum, we then had some spare time to explore the city. We decided to head to the Main Tower as the sky was clear. We were not disappointed and we got an amazing aerial view of the city.

The next day, after a full weekend of learning and exploring, we flew back to London.

Ismail Khan, MSc Finance (2020)

If you’d like to find out more about Ismail’s experience or have any general questions about studying on a master’s degree at Cass, contact him on our ‘Ask a student‘ platform.

Finding work in China and the UK with a student society

Cass Chinese Careers Society

I am the Co-President of the Cass Chinese Careers Society (CCCS), along with Wendy Zhang and Yilun Fu, two master’s students at Cass. While the three of us manage the whole society together, I specialise in Public Relations and lead a team of my own to establish and maintain relationships with guest speakers, alumni and external organisations such as companies and societies.

CCCS is a student-led society working together with the Careers team, aiming to support Chinese postgraduates in achieving their professional aspirations. CCCS not only helps enhance the job-searching skills of Chinese students by holding practical job-related presentations and workshops, but also serves as a useful information-sharing and networking platform for its members to pursue their dream jobs in both the UK and in China.

There are three major divisions within CCCS: Marketing, Events and Public Relations. The Marketing team produces weekly job-related insights on our main social media platform WeChat, sharing job opportunities and application preparation tips. They also share events they feel will be relevant to students and offer information on specific companies and industries.

Our events

In our first semester, we held two major events and facilitated two additional events organised by Cass Careers Office:

  • Alumni Panel Event – Getting a job in the UK
  • Christmas networking event at Devonshire Terrace
  • Standard Charted Company Presentation
  • Financial Friends Online Conference – Job application tips on financial services in mainland China

All events were very well received by our students. For example, in the Christmas networking event, the venue was fully booked with 60 attendees— both students and alumni. Over 120 students attended Standard Charted presentation!

Alumni panel event

At our alumni panel event, we had eight guest speakers from four sectors that students are most interested in: banking, consulting, auditing and insurance. Our speakers are employees from high-profile companies (HSBC, Barclays, KPMG, PwC, Accenture and Aviva).

After a short introduction, the panel coordinators asked questions tailored to current applicants’ key concerns. After guest graduates shared their experiences and tips, there was also a Q&A and networking session. The topics of the questions cover the guests’ typical day/week, challenges and opportunities, reasons for choosing this role and company, specific applications tips and advice about the job-searching process as a whole. We had excellent feedback with some of my fellow students calling thing event ‘insightful’ and ‘very practical’.

What I have gained from being part of CCCS

Being a part of CCCS has been a great experience of mine!

CCCS provides excellent networking opportunities for its members. As the president responsible for Public Relations, holding society events gives me a great opportunity to build connections with not only a strong community of aspiring students, but also with experienced professionals such as Cass alumni, company representatives and even Shanghai Free Trade Zone delegates. By talking with experienced professionals and listening to their personal stories, I gained helpful insights about different job markets and received valuable guidance on exploring career options and further progression. During my busy application period, our community also offered me great encouragement and support which was just what I needed then for even better performance.

From a more personal perspective, the president role helped me enhance my leadership and communication skills by giving me an excellent opportunity to lead and manage a team of my own, which I believe will definitely benefit me in my future career and more generally in life.

Aside from skills development, the thought of making positive impacts within the Chinese student community always keeps me motivated. I deeply understand the difficulty and various struggles of finding an ideal job for Chinese students, so the feeling of being able to offer help and support makes my society duties a lot more enjoyable.

Iris Xuan Wang, MSc Business Analytics (2020)

© 2020 Cass MSc Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Skip to toolbar