How did you first hear about the Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA) qualification?
We became aware of it at the time of launch in 2014 through the IFoA’s communications. Most of our detailed thinking and development took place in 2016, with our first CAA student recruits starting in early 2017.
What value did you see it offering your business?
We have been providing interim actuarial resource and consulting services to a range of clients since 2006. We felt there was a gap where the type of skills learned through the qualification could provide real value to our clients. Some of the work being performed by Fellowship students didn’t necessarily need a Fellowship level of knowledge, and we thought that the CAA could be a good fit in those cases. The actuarial profession can add value in much wider fields than has traditionally been the case, but some of those other sectors would not support the level of charge-out rates typically seen for actuaries, so the CAA provides a cost-effective bridge into new sectors.
Does it compete with more traditional actuarial qualifications?
No – I think the qualification complements the traditional actuarial qualifications. It gives a great grounding in key actuarial concepts and technical skills that are then transferable to a wide range of roles and industries, including the more traditional and specialised actuarial qualifications such as IFoA Fellowship.
What do you offer to CAA students and how do you support them?
Students are put through at least a month of intensive induction training, focusing on key practical skills such as the use of Excel and Visual Basic for Applications, as well as other important actuarial concepts that they need to know in order to get off to a flying start and deliver value. We also support them through the exams with regular study days and materials, and each student has a mentor or manager to provide extra guidance.
How do clients regard the CAA?
Those that have made use of our CAA staff have been universally positive about their experiences. The typically lower costs clearly appeal, but I also think that clients recognise the skills gained through the qualification and can see where these fit with their requirements. Knowing that there are exams and professional learning underpinning the qualification helps provide assurance that the work will be to a high standard, and the global dimension means it is recognised internationally.
“It’s much more accessible to prospective students, whether that is through a school leaver programme or as a career change later in life”
How do you see the future for the CAA in financial services?
There will be some work where traditional actuarial qualifications are not necessary, but for which actuarial techniques and concepts learned by CAAs could be well suited. It’s more accessible to prospective students, whether that is through a school leaver programme or as a career change, and has the ability to really help boost awareness of actuarial work, so I’m hopeful that we continue to see it expand during the coming years.
What advice would you give to other businesses considering the CAA?
Ensure your employees have sufficient support for the exams and wider development and training, as well as challenging and interesting work to get involved with. If you can get that right, and keep it that way, I really think the sky is the limit.
Ross Gordon is an associate partner at APR
Morgan Smith-Woodhams talks about her experience as a CAA
In May 2017, I joined APR in its first ever cohort of students undertaking the CAA qualification. The qualification consists of six actuarial exams covering a range of topics such as statistical methods, general insurance and life insurance, which you take while working in the actuarial industry.
The qualification was a great way for me to gain valuable experience and practical knowledge within the industry, and to network with other actuarial students and senior leadership while studying for exams that would help me progress my career.
I have since qualified as a CAA and have progressed on to the FIA exams, with the hope of becoming a fully qualified actuary. The knowledge I have gained as a CAA, as well as from the CAA exams themselves, has helped me immensely.
The qualification is a great way to join the actuarial profession, if like myself, you decide university is not for you or you are entering the industry from another profession. The CAA qualification provides a great foundation for your career and is a brilliant option for those looking for an alternative route into the actuarial profession.
Morgan Smith-Woodhams is an employee at APR
For more information about the CAA Global qualification, please visit bit.ly/341vzC1