On 14 August 2020, I officially qualified as an Actuary and became Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA). It took me 15 years to complete this journey which is almost twice the time it normally takes students. However, the longer it took the better it felt upon achieving it. The infographic above summarizes the journey over these years.
What is an Actuary?
An actuary is a professional who evaluates risk and the financial consequences of those risks using mathematics, statistics, finance and economic theory to analyse wide range of uncertain business problems. The profession has wide applications around insurance, banking, finance and wherever risk and uncertainty lies. To become an actuary, one needs to complete a set of professional exams conducted by a professional actuarial body (Society of Actuaries, Casualty Actuarial Society, Institute of Actuaries of Australia to name a few). These are some of the toughest professional exams that take years and a few (quite a few in my case!) unsuccessful attempts to complete.
Learnings from my journey
I got interested into the profession soon after my year 12 (around 2004/2005) partly because of my interest in Mathematics and partly because of the challenge involved. At the time, there were less than 50 actuaries in Pakistan where I started. Since then it took a lot of patience, hard work and endurance to finally reach the finish line.
The whole process of struggle, failing, passing, being on the brink of quitting and yet finding that little bit of energy to keep moving taught several lessons. Encompassing all, the most important thing learnt is the realization of how strong we are compared to what we think about ourselves. The only time we fail is when we accept our failure and stop trying further. As long as we don’t do that, we are a winner and every failure is only guiding us to the right track to success. To me, this learning and the confidence it brings is what I take with me in trying anything going forward.
Speaking of failure being a guide to success, the exams also helped in emphasizing that there are no dead ends. There were many occasions when I actually thought there is no way I am going to pass this exam or get out of a certain situation but give it enough time while keep trying there always seems to be some solution that works out either expectedly or absolutely unexpectedly as if the universe is guiding you and rewarding you for not giving up. This feeling is amazing to have as it makes you want to push harder and harder as having a belief that the solution is around the corner brings with it the optimism and this is something I am very thankful these exams have taught me.
Finally, it is absolutely ok not to be ok. When you are doing something different or new, there will be times when you will be in situations you don’t want to be in or in situations that make you question why they happened to you? What I learnt is that many times it is life’s way of making us stronger and preparing us for the upcoming events/challenges planned for us so we can be prepared and rise to the occasion when they occur.
To conclude, I believe aside from a diverse skillset in a highly in-demand profession what these actuarial exams gave me is a lot of confidence and persistency to keep trying with optimism along with an ability to reflect myself better after every setback and use it as a strength to get stronger and try harder. These learnings are invaluable asset which I take with me to the rest of my career.