Advice from the Profession's examiners to students sitting the specialist applications (SA) exams is to read widely. The good news is that students can do this wherever they are, without leaving their laptop or iPad, thanks to the learning portals on the Profession’s website.
Much of the information in the learning portals is also suitable for Fellows wishing to keep their continuing professional development (CPD) up to date through private reading, and it is particularly relevant to anyone changing, or considering changing, the specialist area in which they work.
The learning portals contain links to a wealth of background reading to help relate the technical concepts of the subject area to a business context and to offer a range of different viewpoints.
Each learning portal typically contains:
- Relevant professional guidance and other regulatory material.
- A range of articles and conference papers.
- A selection of books, which may be downloaded, read online or borrowed from the Profession’s libraries.
- A range of journals, with links to those available online.
- Reports, such as the Economist Intelligence Unit Country Reports (login required).
- Data sources.
- Links to further online material.
Students taking the SA examinations are not expected to have read all the items in the learning portals or to have gained a detailed knowledge of any particular topic additional to that contained in the core reading.
Equally, there are other sources of information that will enhance the wider understanding of the subject.
- The financial and trade press, including The Actuary magazine.
- Bulletins and other publications from insurers, reinsurers and consultancies.
- Sessional research papers issued by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and presentations at the meetings of SIAS or regional societies.
- Continuous Mortality Investigation reports and bulletins.
- Presentations at recent conferences or seminars.
- Other recommended references in the relevant practice area of the Actuarial Profession’s website.
Access statistics for the learning portals suggest that they are popular with students, with SA2, SA3, SA5 and SA6 being
particularly well visited. However, it would seem that the resource is currently under-used by qualified actuaries.