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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Q&A: Valeria Huerta Acosta

Valeria Huerta Acosta is a student from Mexico, working at Aon and studying at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León


Valeria Huerta

I was born and grew up in Juárez, Chihuahua, but I moved to Monterrey because it was the ‘nearest’ university in Mexico that offered the actuarial science programme.

I’m very outgoing. I really enjoy talking and meeting new people. I like swimming and running, and I just ran my first half marathon last month. I live with a friend, who is already an actuary, from my university. Last friday was my last class in university, and I’m very excited about what is coming next, though I still can’t decide what to do: a masters degree, trainee programme or to keep working for a couple years.

Which actuarial field do you specialise in?

Pensions and credit risk, because of my new job (of two months) and my internship.

Why did you decide to study this degree?

I liked the way mathematics turned out to be something more ‘down to earth’ compared to any other fields that apply maths.

Which actuarial society are you a member of?

I’m a student member of the AMA – CONAC (Asociación Mexicana de Actuarios – Colegio Nacional de Actuarios).

Which actuarial fields are most dominant in Mexico?

Life, health and car insurance.

Tell us a bit about the market that you work in.

I make actuarial valuations of labour liabilities. The market in this area is not big, there might be lots of small consultancy firms, but in Mexico there are only three big companies who get most of the big clients.

What kind of support do students get in your company, and elsewhere in the market?

I think my company was very supportive, because they decided to hire me even when I still had a couple months to go at university. Currently they don’t have any interns (at least in my area of the city), but they used to have one two years ago.

Could you tell us about an interesting project you have worked on? 

I worked (together with my team) on a project for my applied statistics II course, where we examined the monthly deaths in Mexico over the last 22 years and tried to forecast how mortality will behave for the next three years. We used the ‘R’ and the ‘LOESS’ model. It was interesting because we found some stationarity, trends and white noise within.

What do you believe are the social and economic drivers for actuarial work 

in your region?

Pension issues and saving behaviour.

What is the reputation of actuaries and the professional body in your country? 

The profession is not very popular in Mexico, there might be around 20,000 actuaries. They have some research projects with government institutions.

How do you see the role of an actuary evolving in the future?

I definitely think we will need to open ourselves up to new sectors. I believe there will come the day when some areas are not such a matter of attention or popular anymore 

(like risk management, for example), and new issues will come to the fore.

We already ‘know’ how the future will be, there will be a very big older population. To cover this new market is our duty. I think we need to keep developing all kinds of skills, especially programming skills.

How often and in what way do you use social media?

I usually do not post much, but I do look at what my friends and groups I follow post. 

I think it is a good way to stay in touch with other actuaries I have met.

What have been the influences that shaped your career decisions to date?

I pay a lot of attention to what my professors say in class, their recommendations and experiences.

Could you tell us about your immediate and longer term goals?

I would like to study for a masters and to be a member of another country’s actuarial society such as the Society of Actuaries or the IFoA.

If you have travelled abroad to work or study, what are the main professional differences between Mexico and where you have worked and studied?

I went to Germany for a year and two months for an exchange programme. I discovered how much harder it is to be an actuary there compared to Mexico. Here we must only study a five-year-long bachelor degree and after that keep on with further education, like small courses. 

In Germany one should have a related degree, preferably a masters, pass 11 exams and have a three-year-long experience in any actuarial sector. I stayed in Gottingen, where I studied for eight months, and Braunschweig, where I did an internship at Volkswagen Financial Services 

What do you say when asked, “What is an actuary”?

A mathematician that manages and studies any kind of risk that might have financial impacts, through statistics and probability. 

How will you celebrate the day you qualify?

I will celebrate with a nice party and dinner with family and friends, or have a great vacation.