Darshan Purmessur describes his career path and work in Mauritius
Actuarial work in itself was not a passion for me to begin with. I like numbers, but let's be honest: actuaries are perceived to be intellectual money-makers with the ability to make forecasts that mitigate risks. I began my studies in actuarial science in 2015 at the University
of Mauritius (UoM), with little knowledge of what it was really about. My studies were led by experienced professionals who instilled further interest; there was a lot of 'hands-on' work with mathematical and statistical software such as R, MATLAB, SPSS - reflective of modern-day actuarial work.
During my first year at university, I studied mathematics, statistics and business principles, which boosted my understanding of the purely actuarial modules that would follow. I also allocated some time to extracurricular activities - namely the Actuarial Society of UoM, set up in 2015 and run by actuarial students.
The society organises a CPD event on a yearly basis, reuniting industry professionals to discuss trending actuarial-related topics. Additionally, regular outings are organised to create a sense of belonging among junior and senior students.
UoM is one of the few non-European universities to be listed on the IFoA's website as having Accreditation by Subject Agreements for a high number of seven core technical (CT) subjects. The hardest thing about securing exemptions is the number of hours one has to put in to master the subject. While natural intelligence does play a role in academic success, hard work supersedes it. I was exempted from all CTs except CT4, as it was a challenge to simultaneously handle the examination, maintain my university module grades and meet my mentor's expectations in my final year dissertation. I managed to clear CT4 in a single sitting while graduating with a first class degree in actuarial studies in October2018.
I joined QED Actuaries and Consultants as an actuarial analyst, and was given the opportunity to undertake actuarial training sessions at QED's head office in Sandton, South Africa. I met a big family of actuaries there and did not miss any opportunity to learn from them. Currently, I am working in collaboration with the general insurance and life insurance team to produce tailored reports for our clients that meet their business needs and instil consumer confidence. I also worked on putting IFRS9 into place. QED takes pride in the ongoing training that it provides and in its own actuarial modelling platform, Basys.
The most interesting part of my job is the mixture of technicalities and consultancy; the most satisfying part is brainstorming with my team to find the best solution to a new problem and draft a report reflecting our added value. Actuaries typically work 40-50 hours per week, more if a deadline is to be met, but I enjoy a flexible schedule so that I can prepare for my upcoming actuarial examinations. The benefits offered to me by QED also include the funding of my path to becoming a Fellow of the IFoA.
Public interest in actuaries' work has grown in recent years, and the number of fully qualified actuaries and young people aiming to become actuaries is also increasing. Those individuals dedicated enough to complete the requirements involved in becoming a fully-fledged
actuary are providing a platform for the future generation through the Mauritian Society of Actuaries. In Mauritius, we have many actuaries specialised in life insurance and pensions. While the Society is still in the process of being made official locally, it takes the responsibility of reuniting all those with a passion for figures and statistical manipulation, provides guidance, and keeps members up to date on relevant trends in the ever-evolving actuarial market.
You don't simply become an actuary; you choose and commit to become one.
Darshan Purmessur is an actuarial analyst at QED Actuaries & Consultants