Born in Portugal, Miguel is a 24-year old graduate in mathematics applied to economics and management, and an MSc in Actuarial Science, from the ISEG, University of Lisbon. He currently resides in Madrid working for AXA. His passions include live music and travelling. He is a member of the IFoA.
Which actuarial field do you specialise in?
My final actuarial thesis at University was in the field of risk theory, in particular, ruin theory. Right now I'm working with an internal model for economic capital calculations in the risk management department.
Which actuarial fields are the most popular in Spain and why?
The most popular ones are still the more traditional ones, such as reserving and pricing.
Can you tell us a bit about the industry or market that you work in?
I work in several markets and each of them has their own particularities. On one hand we have the more traditional and mature markets of Europe that are suffering from the European crisis, and where companies are struggling to maintain a position.
On the other hand there are the markets in South America or the Gulf region which are very dynamic and competitive, and where insurance companies want to increase their position in the market.
What led you to choose to study for an actuarial qualification with the IFOA?
As I had done a Masters degree this gave me exemptions from some of the CT exams. Also the IFoA is a strong organisation with recognition all over the world.
Which of the actuarial exams do you consider the most difficult and why?
I think that the CT8 (Financial Economics) will be the most difficult due to the fact that it covers topics in which my background is not very strong.
When do you expect to qualify?
Two years from now (as an associate).
What kind of support do students typically get in your company and elsewhere in the market?
Studying for the IFoA exams is not common practice in the market. Therefore there isn't as much support by companies here, as there is in the UK.
You can receive support from your manager or HR. It is usual to obtain payment of exams fees and some study days.
What would you say are the 'hot' topics in your industry?
Naturally, the implementation of Solvency II is still a much debated topic.
What's the reputation of actuaries in your country?
The first reaction is always "what is that?" but when I explain what I do, the reaction is usually positive. I don't think that actuaries have a bad reputation in Spain.
What are your views on the role of an actuary, both now and in the future?
Actuaries are considered to have an important role inside the organisation and are respected for what they do.
More actuarial expertise is needed, especially in analysing new emerging risks and the challenges that companies will face with Solvency II.
Is the skill set of an actuary becoming recognised across many other disciplines, in the Spanish market?
Yes, absolutely. We see more and more people with actuarial skills working in different areas. There is a realisation from other fields that actuaries have a good sense of the risks affecting those fields and can easily adapt to roles other than the 'traditional' actuarial ones.
How would you describe a typical day at work?
I start at 9.00am and as I work with groups across different time zones, there are usually pending emails from the previous day.
We then have a team debrief so we can organize our work for the day. We also provide daily support on any specific needs others might have. My day ends around 6.00pm.
What were the influences that shaped your career decisions to date?
My first line manager and a colleague that started working at the same time as I did. We would talk and debate about the work we do and possible career paths.
Could you tell us about your immediate and longer term goals?
I want to qualify and continue to learn, and work in a wide variety of actuarial fields.
What do you say when asked, "What is an actuary"?
A mathematician that primarily works on analysing risks affecting an insurance company.
How will you celebrate the day you qualify?
By drinking champagne