Hélio was born in a small town in Torres Vedras, 30 miles from Lisbon. He currently works for the Insurance and Pension Funds Supervisory Authority of Portugal. Despite his fanaticism for Lisbon, he enjoys travelling and discovering new cultures and customs. He is a member of the IFoA.
Which actuarial field do you specialise in?
I am currently working in the general insurance and non-life business sectors, but my ambition is to become an expert in catastrophe insurance.
Which actuarial fields are the most popular in Portugal and why?
One of the principal insurance topics is the workers' compensation product. It is mandatory and covers against accidents that occur during working hours. It is very similar to some of the health products but has a few peculiarities.
For this reason, in order to model it, you are required to be an expert in both life and non-life techniques, so it is usual for actuaries to specialise because of the complexity.
Can you tell us a bit about the industry or market you work in?
The Portuguese market is not a very big one, we only have 40 insurance companes, one reinsurance company and one mutual insurance company.
What led you to choose to study for an actuarial qualification with the IFoA?
My masters degree in actuarial science has an exemption agreement with the IFoA but not for all the CTs, so I decided to finish at least the CTs because I think that a qualification like this one is more appreciated and accepted across Europe.
Which of the actuarial exams do you consider the most difficult and why?
I have not attempted all the exams but the main obstacle is time. It can be difficult to manage the three-hour period efficiently during the exams.
In how many years do you expect to qualify?
Hopefully, I can finish all the exams in the next four years.
What kind of support do students typically get in your company and elsewhere?
My company fully supports me in this qualification, but I know that this is not the case for all insurance companies in Portugal.
Is there an actuarial student society in the area?
No, we do not have one here in Portugal.
What would you say are the 'hot' topics in your industry?
With the implementation of Solvency II, the hot topics are related to all the new requirements, both quantitative and qualitative, and the outlines and specifications of that work.In addition to this, younger actuaries seem to have an interest in the development and implementation of internal models.
What's the reputation of actuaries in your country?
I think necessary steps need to be taken in order to recognise the actuarial role as an important one.
I sometimes feel that the work of an actuary is underestimated, but hopefully this will change in the future.
How would you describe a typical day at work?
This would depend on the type of work I am doing, but the majority of my days I would define as a constant learning process, with the usual daily obstacles to overcome.
What were the influences that shaped your career decisions to date?
My main influence resulted from my studying for my bachelor degree in mathematics.
This gave me a strong foundation, and introduced me to the actuarial world. For that, I am grateful to all my professors and colleagues.
Could you tell us about your immediate and longer term goals?
My immediate goal is to finish the actuarial qualifications of the IFoA. As for the future, my aim is to be considered as a professional
What do you say when asked, "What is an actuary?"
I generally have two answers, the quick and the more elaborate - the quick version is, someone that uses mathematics to achieve prices for your insurance contracts. It can be difficult for a lot of people to understand what an actuary does, so I prefer not to talk about it too much.
How will you celebrate on your day of qualification?
I haven't really thought about it, but when that day comes it will definitely be memorable.
It will be an unforgettable day.