I am a PhD student currently studying at Cass Business School - City University, London. I am from Belo Horizonte, capital of the Minas Gerais state, Brazil.
I am a PhD student currently studying at Cass Business School - City University, London. I am from Belo Horizonte, capital of the Minas Gerais state, Brazil. The city is one of the largest in Brazil and is known for its traditional food, friendly people, and the incredible hills and mountains that surround the metropolis.
Now that I am in London, I like to travel around the city and find new and interesting places. I often enjoy a coffee while reading Time Out magazine, in search of my next adventure. I like go to places with live music, and try to find a venue where I can enjoy some Brazilian flavour. I recently bought a ukulele, so am spending some time trying to play it - and occasionally succeeding! Travel is also another passion of mine. I want to enjoy my time in Europe to get to know as many different countries as I can.
Which actuarial field do you specialise in?
Life and health.
Why did you decide to study in this specific field?
After I got my bachelors degree in Actuarial Science in Brazil, I started working for a large private Brazilian healthcare company (Unimed-BH) in my hometown. My experiences there helped me to understand the complexity of providing access to healthcare services for the population. Also, as people are living longer, the demand for healthcare is increasing.
I want to be able to understand the trends in population longevity and mortality, and contribute to the provision of necessary care to future generations.
Which actuarial society are you a member of?
I am a member of the Brazilian Institute of Actuaries (IBA).
Which actuarial fields are most dominant in Brazil and why?
Life and health fields are becoming more dominant with the increase in penetration of life insurance, private medical insurance and pensions. This is due to the perceived need by the population to complement state benefits related to healthcare and retirement.
Tell us a bit about the degree subject that you are studying?
As a PhD student, I want to investigate the trends of chronic diseases, particularly in Brazil. I also want to study the patterns of claims that generate extremely high costs (with hospitalisation, therapies and more) for a private healthcare company. In some of these cases, the high cost can be reduced or even prevented. However, it's rarely achievable due to the difficulty in predicting when they will happen and how much they will cost.
What kind of support do students get?
Unfortunately, Brazilian companies do not provide much support. However, ever more people are starting to study for international qualifications such as with the IFoA, and the SoA.
Three years ago, a scholarship was created by the Brazilian College of Insurance - ESNS, allowing Brazilian actuaries to come to London and study for the MSc in Actuarial Science course offered by Cass Business School. As this course offers exemptions for IFoA exams, students can start their journey to become a qualified actuary, and eventually contribute to the development of the Brazilian market. I was one of the first students to receive this scholarship, and completed the MSc in 2013.
What kind of activities does the actuarial student society in the area you work organise?
The Brazilian College of Insurance - ESNS has similar objectives to those of SIAS. As part of their activities, they stimulate and publish research in the sector, offer professional specialisation and training courses - in national and international institutions - promote workshops and congresses in Brazil bringing together experts in the insurance sector from around the world, and provide scholarships, among many other activities.
Are you involved in any actuarial activities outside your day job?
As a PhD student, I am involved with some academic activities with the Faculty of Actuarial Science of Cass Business School, helping them check the students' coursework. The greatest benefit for me is that it creates the possibility to follow an academic career when I conclude my PhD.
What do you believe are the social and economic drivers for actuarial work in Brazil?
Over the past decade, more people have been able to buy life and health insurance policies, and have started saving for their retirement due to Brazil's economic ascension and the consequent financial improvement of large parts of the population.
The challenge for actuaries now is to increase the penetration of these products, possibly targeting that part of the population on lower incomes. This will develop the insurance market in Brazil, and give the state the opportunity to provide assistance to the poorest parts of society, which unfortunately, is still a high percentage of the population.
What's the reputation of actuaries and the profession in Brazil?
Unfortunately, the actuarial profession is still largely unknown in Brazil. However, more people are becoming aware of what we do and how important our role is in protecting their future.
What are your views on the role of an actuary in the market you work in now, and in the future?
One of the main issues of the healthcare market is to make the service viable for insurers and consumers. The sharp increase in medical costs makes this issue even more challenging for the future. Actuaries working in health and care will play an important role in developing solutions for these concerning trends.
How is the skill set of an actuary being recognised across non-traditional disciplines in Brazil?
The integration with non-tradition disciplines is still restricted in Brazil, with a large majority of professionals still working in traditional roles. I hope the market follows the steps in the UK market, and more professionals get involved in different activities.
What were the influences that shaped your career decisions to date?
The decision to pursue a PhD degree, which is very unusual among actuaries, was not easy to make. However, I was inspired by some interesting people I met while working in the Brazilian healthcare insurance market.
I was part of a team responsible for analysing the company's data, and supporting the decision-making of the executive directors. During that time, I worked with very different professionals: demographers, economists, statisticians, actuaries, epidemiologists and even geographers. Most of them had a PhD or a Masters degree.
Their way of working and their capacity to innovate and create solutions for the problems within the healthcare field fascinated me. It inspired me to hope that I too will have the chance to contribute to the development of actuarial knowledge - specifically health and care - with the research I'll be carrying out in the future.
Also, I'll be able to pass on this knowledge to others who want to become actuaries, or those interested in this field.
Could you tell us about your immediate and longer term goals?
My immediate goal is to produce research during my PhD that could bring a contribution to the development of the health insurance sector, particularly in Brazil. As a long-term goal and ambition, I would like to become an expert in the healthcare insurance field, hopefully as a qualified actuary by then.
What do you say when asked: "What is an actuary"?
After searching for years for a simple answer to this question, I usually now say something like: "Actuaries understand and quantify risk, with many working in insurance companies. So we are responsible for calculating how much you'll pay for your car insurance." They usually say: "You actuaries must be very intelligent people!"
How will you celebrate the day you qualify?
I'll celebrate with my family, closest friends and the people who supported me on my journey. Hopefully with a barbecue back in Brazil.