I would wholeheartedly agree with Rizwan Majeed Khan's comments that many excellent mathematicians struggle with the later exams after conquering the heavily 'mathsy' Core Technical series (The Actuary, April 2014). Some brilliant mathematicians will never qualify as actuaries. I wouldn't want them to.
The work of a successful actuary is not restricted to producing numbers, spreadsheets and mathematical models. To be an effective professional and command the respect our qualification affords, an actuary needs many other skills. Communication is absolutely critical to making sure our technical work is understood, the risks we identify are appropriately emphasised and our analysis drives decision-making throughout the organisations we work in. The communications exam (CA3) attempts to capture this skill as do the Specialist Technical and Specialist Application exams.
As a CA1 assistant examiner, I am often disappointed with the quality of responses from highly intelligent candidates who have clearly been very successful with the technical element but seem unable to apply logic with words rather than numbers. In my opinion, the new Certified Actuarial Analyst technical qualification recognises this skill set and adequately addresses this need. A suggestion for less emphasis on the other required skills and assertion that actuaries are truly mathematicians concerns me. I genuinely believe we are a whole lot more.
Donna Cowell, 4 April
The editor welcomes readers' letters but reserves the right to edit them for publication. Please email [email protected]. The deadline for receiving letters for the June issue is 19 May 2014.