Saunak is from the city of Kolkata in the eastern part of India. He works as an actuarial analyst for RSA India. He describes himself as fun-loving, and enjoys spending time with friends and family, travelling to new places and is football mad. He is a member of the IFoA and the Institute of Actuaries of India.
Which actuarial field do you specialise in?
I specialise in the general insurance pricing domain.
Which actuarial fields are the most popular in India and why?
Actuaries in India mainly work in life insurance and pensions which are traditionally very popular. However, in the last five years general insurance - especially health insurance - has received much attention due to the huge growth potential of this business segment.
Can you tell us a bit about the industry or market that you work in?
The general insurance market in India is developing, and insurance companies are trying to consolidate their position in lieu of greater market share.
Health insurance is expected to be the biggest line of business for most general insurance companies in the near future.
What led you to choose to study for an actuarial qualification with the IFoA?
Having graduated in statistics, I was fascinated by data modelling and analysis and I had followed the insurance market closely after the subprime crisis in 2008. When I heard about actuarial science from a senior colleague, I was thrilled to have found my calling.
Which of the actuarial exams do you consider the most difficult and why?
CA1 (Actuarial Risk Management) and CT8 (Financial Economics) due to the sheer volume and the difficulty of the topics.
In how many years do you expect to qualify?
In five to six years
What kind of support do students get in your company and the market in general?
Study leave for exams along with salary increment for passing actuarial exams.
Is there an actuarial student society in your area and if so what kind of activities does it organise?
The Institute of Actuaries of India has created the Society for Cultural and Youth Affairs. It is a platform for student interaction and helps in communicating the challenges faced by actuarial students.
What would you say are the 'hot' topics in India?
Health insurance, general insurance (both personal & commercial lines) and micro-insurance.
What's the reputation of actuaries in your country?
They are held in high regard as they are very few in number.
What are your views on the role of an actuary, now and in the future?
At present the role of an actuary in India is limited to the insurance and pensions sector. However, actuaries can use their skills in many sectors such as investment, risk management and banking in the Indian market.
In the UK the skill set of an actuary is being recognised across many disciplines, is this true of the market you work in?
That scenario is not yet apparent in the Indian market as actuaries are yet to venture away from traditional roles.
How would you describe a typical day at work?
My day starts with checking emails and prioritizing deliverables. I then work on pricing for different products and communicate the results to the underwriting team enabling them to make better risk selection.
What were the influences that shaped your career decisions to date?
My education in statistics has been a big influence on my decision to pursue an actuarial career.
Could you tell us about your immediate and longer term goals?
My immediate goal is to gain experience in general insurance pricing. In the longer term I would like to qualify as a pricing actuary, and contribute to the development of the Indian actuarial profession.
What do you say when asked, "What is an actuary"?
A risk assessor with the necessary skill set to solve complex problems.
How will you celebrate the day you qualify?
I will go for a nice date with my wife and try to make up for all the missed dates due to actuarial exams.