Tarun Kumar Banga and Neha Birla Banga are the happily married actuarial couple. They both have working experience of around seven years in Health Insurance and General Insurance lines of business. Tarun is currently working as Actuarial Manager- HealthCare and Benefits whereas Neha is working as Manager – Actuarial Services. During our conversation they shared their valuable experience in Actuarial industry and the benefits of having a spouse in the same profession. Below is the excerpt of the same.
Q. What attracted you both into Actuarial Science?
Neha – Well, I was doing my Bachelors in Economics (H) from SRCC and I didn’t want to pursue M.A. in Economics as I didn’t want to do something that everyone is doing. Then I came across Actuarial Science course through a career fair and I searched about this course on internet. I found this course pretty interesting because it was something where I can use my analytical skills and also, insurance was something I have always found very interesting as this is completely different from what was happening in the other industries. It is a very niche profession and there was a lot of scope in it, so I made up my mind to move into this profession.
Tarun – For me, it was a completely unknown stream. A friend of mine suggested me to move into Actuarial Science and then I started exploring it and the contents covered under this course. The contents of this course really attracted me (mainly the Statistical content) as I was from a mathematical background. The best thing about this course is that it teaches almost every field related to mathematics. Even if you don’t have a background in Economics and accounts, you will have knowledge of work happening in these areas after doing actuarial. Also, the Insurance industry is developing in India which was another reason which prompted me to move into this profession.
Q. Name 5 benefits and 5 challenges you share with your spouse having a same profession.
Benefits are that we both can study together, we can help each other with different concepts which one of us is able to understand more clearly and we can also help each other in the roles we play in our respective industry. For example, if someone from us has shifted from G.I. to Health Insurance and other one has worked in Health Insurance previously, he/she can help other in understanding the challenges of the industry and give a sound advice on any of the problems arising during the work. Also, being from a same profession, we understand each other’s professional responsibilities better than anyone else. Like if someone is not from actuarial domain and his/ her spouse is preparing for the actuarial exams or busy in office work, then there can be some difficulties in understanding which is not there when your spouse belong to same profession. Due to the same profession, you have all the peak seasons and exams at the same time which makes it easier for a couple to cope up with all the challenges together.
There are not much challenges of having a spouse in similar profession instead it is more beneficial. But yes, sometimes the peaks/ work pressure may be at same times which in turn will result in giving lesser time to your
spouse. But this can happen in any of the profession so this is not a challenge arising due to both working in actuarial profession.
Q. What is the importance of tools like Excel, VBA, SAS and R used in Insurance industry?
Excel is the tool which is easiest to learn and is used the most. Most of the companies (including technical) use Excel in their daily routine. So, it is the bare minimum thing you need to learn if you want to survive in actuarial industry. Though companies use other software as well but nowadays they are building other software keeping excel as base using macros and VBA coding. Some companies are using SAS (Statistical Analytical Software) but it’s a very expensive software to learn. Also, the candidates coming with the SAS certificate will also be expensive for the company as well. So some companies do not prefer to use SAS. R is also a statistical software but it is very difficult to learn and not so user friendly. So, most of the companies do not use R software.
Q. How does post graduation in Actuarial Science benefit you in your Actuarial Career?
Tarun – One of the benefits is that you get the knowledge of most of the exams even without clearing them and applying them in your daily work. Though you do not get the exemption from any society if you do the masters in
Actuarial Science in India, still you learn a lot in this course as you get a chance to work on some projects and gain more experience while discussing with the people who are doing their masters in this course. After doing this course you can clear the actuarial exams more easily but yes, people do not find it much attractive.
Q. What skills do you look for in student actuaries while recruiting?
Neha– The most important skill we look while recruiting an actuarial fresher will be the analytical skills that one must possess in order to check whether they will be able to face the daily challenges in actuarial profession. After that, if you have passed any relevant exams it will be an added advantage along with some software knowledge.
Tarun– They should have a very sharp and analytical mind. The company would like a person who is a quick learner and a team player.
Q. What advice do you give to student actuaries who are about to apply for a job?
Brush up on your IT skills as it will add as an advantage in your profile and it will save time when you start working in the company. So invest your time in learning these skills (at least Excel and VBA) apart from just clearing the papers. You should know how to practically apply the models or techniques you study. Learn the concepts of the subjects rather than just cramming the things and clearing the exams.