The Youngest FSA: An Interview with Roy Ju
The Youngest FSA: An Interview with Roy Ju
Roy Ju is a 20-year-old junior at Drake University. On August 26, 2015, he received the Fellow of Society of Actuaries (FSA) designation from Society of Actuaries (SOA) President Errol Cramer and has become the youngest FSA ever in the SOA’s history. As he achieved the milestone in this incredible journey, Roy shared his thoughts on the attributes to his exam success, the SOA’s education and a career in the actuarial field.
- How did you become interested in an actuarial career?
I first heard about the career in junior high when every student was required to fill out career surveys. Inevitably, “actuary” would appear at the very top of every career recommendation list every year. An actuarial career demands an eclectic skillset that includes analytical, communication, and teamwork skills. After doing a bit of research, the career felt like an excellent fit with my strengths.
- What does the timeline look like to complete your exam process? What contributes to your fast progress in exams and what’s your study strategy?
I began the actuarial exam process during my junior year in high school. I passed three exams before graduating high school, and I passed my last preliminary exam during the winter of my freshman year. I moved onto the essay-based FSA exams during my second year in college. I passed two FSA exams during the fall semester of my sophomore year, and the last SOA exam that next spring.
With regard to exam strategy, I devoted a fair amount of time acquainting myself with the material before diving into specific studying. My study approach was unique in that I spent relatively less time on repetition and writing through practice problems. With my approach of working through few practice problems, I generally focused on developing a foundational understanding of the material that would provide me with the tools to address a wide variety of exam questions. Consequently, I spent much less time than preparing for the exams in a traditional fashion.
- How do the SOA exams prepare you for an actuarial career? How did you benefit from the process?
The SOA exams have provided me with a logical framework to guide my additional learning. Starting the exams early allowed me to get a head start acquiring instrumental actuarial work experience as a freshman in college. Furthermore, I have found the fellowship exams to be helpful in allowing me to better understand the actuarial work I do. It is rewarding to be able to better recognize how my work fits within my team’s goals.
The greatest benefit from these exams was the ensuing spark of curiosity that they aroused in me. These exams introduced a new realm of risk and financial related topics that have piqued my interest. I have particularly enjoyed learning about capital management, business strategy, and risk optimization. I found myself investing a lot of time outside of school and work reading more into finance related areas and staying up-to-date on current events within the financial services industry and regulatory environment. I am excited to engage in many new and exciting independent learning opportunities. I look forward to applying this new learning in becoming more effective in my job function. I feel that my enduring passion to learn and develop, fueled by this actuarial exam process, will serve me well in my future career ambitions.
- In what other activities were you involved while you were in your exam process?
Most of my time is spent working at the Principal Financial Group. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to supplement my coursework with quality actuarial work experience at the Principal within its retirement, life insurance, and international divisions performing modeling, financial reporting, and risk management work. I owe much of my exam success to receiving a variety of valuable work experience at the Principal that has allowed me to quickly accelerate my learning within the actuarial field.
My on campus activities at Drake University include being president and vice president of Drake Investment Club and Drake International Traders of Iowa, respectively. Additionally, I have enjoyed mentoring high school students through the STEM Explorers Mentor Program. On the side, I am an avid tennis and trombone player in addition to having a passion for card games and board games (my friends will never forgive me for introducing the concept of selling insurance in Monopoly.) My friends and family would also argue that eating is an ancillary job for me!
As my time begins to open up, I look forward to resuming many of my previous volunteer commitments.
- What do you like the most about actuarial science?
I enjoy the inherent versatility that an actuarial background provides. I feel that actuaries play integral roles in helping companies to prudently balance risk and return. Companies face pressure to maximize profits and promote societal well-being without overstepping risk boundaries. It would be an exciting opportunity to help the financial services industry address this delicate balance.
I feel that actuaries perform a noble function within society in designing insurance and retirement solutions that promote financial stability. The developing opportunities in foreign emerging markets excite me about possibilities to expand these benefits worldwide to an ever-growing audience.
- What do you think about being the youngest FSA ever?
It is an exciting accomplishment that caps off an incredible journey. As I think through how much I have developed in the past few years since commencing these exams, I feel indebted to the support from the actuarial communities with which I have been involved—the Principal and Drake University have facilitated many of these growth opportunities. As a junior in high school, I joined the University of Northern Iowa’s actuarial science club. I am grateful for its support in the early stages of my actuarial journey.
My friends and family have been so supportive of my exam progress; this achievement is also a tribute to their wonderful support.
- What are your next steps after achieving FSA?
Achieving my FSA will start a new journey in my actuarial career. I am excited to leverage my past learning to unearth future learning opportunities and continue to develop myself to work more effectively in my job. I hope to someday play a part in accelerating the development of financial services and solutions in emerging markets. Within developed markets, I aspire to help promote equilibrium between corporate and regulatory constituents in maximizing welfare for both companies and consumers while preventing future financial crisis. It would be an excellent experience to play a part in the necessary communication to help establish this balance in expanding widespread profitability. I am enthusiastic to someday participate in the development of a new wave of innovative financial products and solutions.
- Any advice for other students and candidates?
I would advise embracing a love for learning and pursuing areas in which you are truly passionate. With regard to the exams, I recommend that exam takers deemphasize the amount of time spent preparing. Instead, I would encourage exam takers to accentuate a focus on developing a quality approach that caters to their strengths and enjoy the journey!
Roy Ju, FSA, CERA, is a junior at Drake University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.