LIFE OF A BENEFIT ANALYST

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Manish Wadhwa is working as a Benefit Analyst since last year. During our conversation, he shed light on the role of an actuary in pension industry. Below is an edited excerpt of the same.

Q. What is your role as a Benefit Analyst?

The main work of an analyst is to estimate the benefit that the company has to pay to their employees in the future. These liabilities will be reflected in the balance sheet. Mainly I am involved in Gratuity and Leave benefit calculations.Gratuity is the lump sum amount that a company is liable to pay to their employees at the time of retirement, death,disability and withdrawal. Leave benefit is the amount of unavailed leave that a company is liable to pay to their employees. For example, if an employee withdraws from the company, then the company has to pay for benefit the employee is vested for, similarly if an employee is entitled for 30 leaves and he consumes only 18 of them, then the company is liable to pay the amount of 12 days to the employee whenever he/she retires or withdraws. Liability depends on the decrements (withdrawal, retirement, death etc) which are all uncertain and probability is associated with them. With the help of certain IT tools and acquired actuarial knowledge, we help such companies in estimating present value of future liability.

Q. Describe current market scenario and what is your future course of action?

The main struggle is that entry-level job market is most competitive than it has ever been. With the increase in awareness regarding actuarial profession and increase in people appearing for exams, there is increase in number of actuarial professionals resulting in more competition in the market.
My 3 years or long term goals is to grow myself with the company I am working for , this can only be done by continuing educational and professional growth. Here educational growth means clearing actuarial exams and professional growth means growing with the company I am working for.

Q. What attracted you into Actuarial Science?

After completing B.Sc. (H) Mathematics, I was in search of a professional course.When I looked at the material of CT-1 Financial mathematics of my friend, I found it really interesting. Then I decided to pursue M.Sc. Actuarial sciences and simultaneously appear for Actuarial exams from IAI. After first semester I realized that such courses are not so beneficial at least in India.Most of these courses are not accredited with IAI, so no exemption is allowed in CT papers. Instead of putting long hours of study in M.Sc. Actuarial Sciences, I decided to put my efforts towards clearing actuarial exams.

Q. How important are the skills like Excel,VBA and SAS for an Actuary?

Actuarial Science involves complex calculations as it deals with large figures in the form of premiums or pension payouts and also because it plays with mathematical theories including probability, statistics etc.Therefore, such software help actuaries to reduce their job complexity in terms of time, strain and to get more accurate results.
My job mainly requires MS excel, but one should surely opt for such additional skills. Everyone wants a comfortable working environment where he/she is satisfied, so if you want to switch to another domain where these software are crucial,then you should know them beforehand in order to stand out from the crowd. Such extra knowledge can also help you innovate in your industry and make your work easier than before.

Q. If the actuarial calculations can be done through software then why do we need an actuary to run those software?

Since these software are used by actuarial professionals to get more accurate results in lesser time, the coding of such software require prerequisite knowledge of actuarial techniques.Also, only the person having actuarial skills can make optimum use of these software and check that whether they are working correctly or not.

Q. How do you manage your time in between studying for exams, coaching and your job?

Till now I’m not perfectly able to manage my time but I’m trying very hard to get back on track.Studying for your exams along with job needs proper time management. Studying regularly for an hour or half can really help one in passing at least CT series examinations. Leaves sanctioned on job to study for exams should be used very cautiously.

Q. What advice do you give to student actuaries?

Student actuaries should focus on learning and clearing the CT subjects and not on getting a job.The objective should be to gain knowledge and not just to clear the exam. The papers should be cleared fundamentally rather than in a subjective manner. If every student adopt this attitude in their studies it would be much easier for them to get a good job. Also, after every interview make a list of the points where you were falling short and try to improve on that.

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