The Actuarial Journey: A Unique and Common Experience
by Marta Jiménez-Lutter
Becoming an actuary is a journey through an evolving landscape that takes candidates from exam preparation to job search and eventually, professional practice. As with any great journey, being prepared and having the right companions and aids maximize the outcome of the experience. Being part of a professional actuarial organization provides candidates and practicing actuaries a lifetime of community support throughout their journey.
Professional organizations, like the Society of Actuaries (SOA), start offering support in the early stages of the actuarial journey and continue to build up actuaries throughout their professional life.
What makes the SOA uniquely equipped to shape and develop actuaries around the world is its well established and respected position within the industry; its global presence, with over 24,000 members in 78 countries; approximately 36,000 candidates in 141 countries and an innovative approach to building strategic alliances to advance actuarial knowledge and improve decision-making to benefit any society.
Knowing that the journey of an actuary is a very particular experience, the SOA has invested extensive resources to offer state-of-the-art education and professional development opportunities to its members and candidates.
One of the reasons the SOA’s credentials are recognized and respected globally is the rigorous and thorough education and exam process that students undertake. A team of nearly 40 dedicated full-time education SOA professional staff in the U.S., Canada and Asia work with more than 1,100 volunteers serving on various exam committees to ensure that there are procedures in place to maintain the integrity and rigor of the exam process.
The SOA offers education pathways encompassing the full range of practice areas. The curriculum and content of the exams e-Learning modules are based on the most up-to-date, relevant developments in the industry and are devised by exam committees comprised of actuaries with current, practical experience.
Networking and Learning
As candidates take exams and explore the actuarial profession they are invited to attend a variety of events organized by the SOA, designed to provide candidates with the chance to learn about different tracks within the actuarial profession; talk to practicing actuaries and network for future internships and jobs. Social media and the new SOA Explorer Map also made networking possible anywhere anytime.
The SOA also partners and sponsors organizations that provide assistance and guidance to future actuaries. The SOA has been a long time sponsor of the Actuarial Student National Association (ASNA) Convention in Canada, with a dedicated contribution to its annual case competition, an intellectually stimulating experience for university students to resolve real-world challenges.
The hours of study and time spent going through the exams are rewarded once the exams have been passed by becoming part of an elite group holding the most widely valued actuarial credentials in the world. SOA members have a vast network of professionals around the world with many members-only social and professional development resources.
SOA members also have many opportunities to volunteer in a variety of capacities within the organization; being members of the board, speaking at events, grading exams and writing questions or mentoring new candidates. Volunteering offers members many opportunities to develop professional skills that they can carry back to their daily work. Being engaged in the profession and its developments also enable volunteers to actively impact important decisions regarding the direction and future of the actuarial profession.
During the 2013 SOA Annual Meeting, the SOA President Mark Freedman summarized the personal and professional impact that being part of a professional organization can have on any individual. “When you walk into an event like this, you’re surrounded by people you know who have a unique and common experience. You have an instant connection just by being an SOA member,” Freedman said.
Marta Jiménez-Lutter is a content specialist at the Society of Actuaries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article was first published on the 2015 Newsletter 1 of the Actuarial Student National Association.