Month: May 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 Cass AIR-Q Actuarial Forum.

The event, organised by the Actuarial, Insurance, Risk and Quants society, was attended by student members and Cass Business School alumni who were eager to understand what this trending topic meant 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.

The Presidents of the Cass 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.

Lastly, we always like to hear your thoughts.  Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

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)

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