Maijabeen was born in South Africa and currently works as an actuarial analyst for Towers Watson in Cape Town. Her hobbies include painting, sketching and baking. She also enjoys hiking and spending time with her family and friends. She is a member of the Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA).
Which actuarial field do you specialise in?
I currently work in the Investment field but my interests also lie in life insurance and gaining the Certified Enterprise Risk Actuary (CERA) qualification.
Which actuarial fields are the most popular in South Africa and why?
The insurance and retirement industries are traditional areas of specialisation. As the profession has started to grow the importance of actuarial skills has been recognised and they are being employed in a wide range of industries as well.
Can you tell us a bit about the industry or market that you work in?
The investment industry is a highly competitive and vibrant marketplace, and is very dependent on current local market conditions as well as the influence of global markets. Continuing professional development is very important in this industry so one learns a lot when completing day-to-day tasks. Individuals also need to ensure they abide by the code of ethics and standards and act in the best interests of the consumer at all times.
What led you to choose to study for an actuarial qualification?
I was the top achiever in mathematics at high school. This led me to pursue a career in actuarial science as I realised it would be the best option to utilise my skills. I was also eager for the challenge ahead.
Which of the actuarial exams do you consider the most difficult and why?
The Actuarial Risk Management exam (CA1) is the most difficult as it has the largest syllabus. The specialist subjects also introduce a level of difficulty as well as broad spectrum thinking due to being structured different to the core technical subjects.
When do you expect to qualify?
I expect to qualify in the next two years.
What kind of support do students get, in your company and elsewhere in the market?
Most students receive support in the form of exam and tuition fees which are paid for by the company as well as a number of stipulated study leave days based on the respective exam being written.
Is there an actuarial student society in the area you work, and what kind of activities does it organise?
Yes, the Association of South African Black Actuaries (ASABA) exists. It provides presentations by respected individuals in the industry, networking sessions, vacation work programmes and mentorship programmes.
What would you say are the 'hot' topics in your industry?
These would include: socially responsible investing, value investing, regulation 28 compliance, analytics, mobility and networking.
What's the reputation of actuaries in South Africa?
Actuaries here are highly recognised and respected due to the depth of knowledge, expertise and skills of the individuals.
What are your views on the role of an actuary, both now and in the future?
As the world develops and the levels of risk in society changes and increases, so does uncertainty. Therefore actuarial skills are being used in many other fields other than the traditional areas. The role of an actuary in the future will become more prominent, and there will be a need to improve all competencies.
How would you describe a typical day at work?
No day is ever the same. Most involve reading up on current market trends, completing monthly and quarterly reports. Interaction among colleagues on an intellectual and social level occurs occasionally. Some days may also involve attending manager presentations and client meetings.
What are your immediate and longer term goals?
My immediate goal is to complete the exams and qualify as an actuary. My long term goals include gaining international exposure by working overseas, and giving back to society.
What do you say when asked, "What is an actuary?"
Many people think that actuaries are only good at mathematics and they are socially awkward. I usually describe an actuary as an expert who uses mathematics and statistical skills to analyse problems and determine solutions.
How will you celebrate the day you qualify?
I will celebrate with family and friends as they are the ones who have supported and encouraged me in my journey to become an actuary.