Subject matter experts both externally and from within the IFoA were involved in the writing of the new SA7 module. Here we explain how the subject can help you maximise your career.
So what is the SA7 exam? What will students get from studying it? And who would be suited to it?
Following the review of the curriculum, SA7 builds on the Specialist Principles subject SP5 (formerly ST5) and earlier subjects, combining practical application of investment and finance to allow critical analysis across all major areas of investment practice. It develops a broad working understanding of financial and investment markets across major areas of investment expertise. Topics include:
- Investors - individual and institutional
- Investments - assets, derivatives and corporate finance Influences on investment markets - regulatory, economic and political
- Investment analysis and strategy - including investment psychology
- Investment management and consulting
This exam is really for anyone who wants to enhance their career prospects into a role such as chief investment officer (CIO) of an investment management organisation, or a comparable role in other types of financial institutions.
Actuaries' roles are changing; how do you see the role of this exam subject helping actuaries become 'fit for the future'?
In a world where many roles are getting more and more specialised, someone still needs to be responsible for strategic thinking and overall guidance - particularly so in the investment world. We believe that SA7 is one of the broadest investment courses that you can study if you are looking to develop your strategic investment thinking.
Increasingly, the value that actuaries add is not purely about numbers, it is about judgment and strategic guidance. We hope that through the development of this exam we will create business professionals with a wide strategic and practical skillset, so that they and their firms remain relevant to - and remain at the forefront of - business and the financial markets.
Some students may consider the SA7 examination as an alternative to other investment qualifications, for example the CFA exams. How would you advise them to proceed?
It's true that the CFA educational materials are comprehensive and well regarded. We believe that the primary difference of the new SA7 course is that it is much broader and more strategic. We already know that actuaries are equipped with a deeper, more mathematical and more rigorous skillset for using numbers to make judgments about the future - this is true in investment as much as it is in insurance or pensions - but SA7's breadth also includes firm-level business decisions, a wide range of client types and investment psychology, something that is not currently included in the CFA materials. Investment is mostly about people and their collective opinions and actions, so we believe that covering aspects of investor psychology will give our materials a breadth that is not necessarily available in other courses.
"I believe this course will allow candidates to help solve the most challenging real-world asset and liability problems"
Hemal Popat - chief examiner
As a new subject in Curriculum 2019, how has this changed what is currently available to students?
The current SA6 subject materials were due for a more substantive review anyway, and as part of our curriculum refresh it was clear there were several new areas that could be valuable for actuaries who want to leverage themselves into purely investment roles. The new SA7 has expanded the reach of the old SA6, brought in topics from the discontinued SA5, and broadened it into a comprehensive set of educational materials for those aiming to become CIOs.
And finally, what is next for this subject - how do you see it evolving in the future?
The investment world is rapidly evolving, with, for example, the advent of high-frequency and algorithmic trading. This, coupled with the changing roles of actuaries in the global financial market, means it's essential that our educational materials are kept up to date. With a high-calibre group of authors and subject matter experts, we believe that our materials will continue to give a competitive advantage to our student members.
If you have any questions about this subject, or about anything else to do with Curriculum 2019, please get in touch with the Education Services team at [email protected]