Derek Cribb reflects on why the IFoA Fellowship qualification adds value, quite literally, in Asia
I read with interest the article in last month's magazine, written by Jonny Plews from Oliver James Associates' Hong Kong office, on how the salaries of the IFoA's members in Asia compare with those of other actuarial professional bodies. I've been reflecting on the variance in the survey results and asking myself why this might be.
When I visit Asia, I often hear that the IFoA's exams are harder to pass than those of other qualifying actuarial bodies. While such feedback is, to a degree, subjective, I believe that our exams are challenging because they equip our members with the skills that they need to progress at pace to more senior roles in their future careers.
Our Fellowship qualification is not about learning by rote - the judgement that trainee actuaries learn to apply through their studies with the IFoA makes them an attractive asset in the workplace. Rather than a purely academic or technical qualification, the IFoA offers a professional qualification that places value on important business skills such as communication, as well as technical knowledge and, more importantly, the application of that knowledge.
With the average actuary qualifying today in the Asian market likely to earn over $10 million over the course of their career, the Oliver James survey results suggest that IFoA qualified actuaries are able to earn around 10% more. To put it another way, the IFoA Fellowship can attract a premium in excess of $1 million over the course of a career.
There are many factors to consider when deciding on which qualification to pursue, and the IFoA qualifications are not the right choice for everyone. However, using earnings as a simple market indicator of fitness for purpose, it is reassuring to see from the Oliver James survey that both the quality and relevance of the IFoA's qualifications are being recognised by employers in Asia.
The principles of business relevance and high-quality technical content underlying our Fellowship qualification, which are so clearly valued by employers, have also been applied to the new Certified Actuarial Analyst qualification.
We trust that, in time, the market will equally demonstrate the value this new qualification is bringing.