View Full Version : a long, long time
10-19-2001, 09:31 AM
I was talking to a non-actuarial insurance professional in Europe, who was shocked when I told him about the length of travel time towards FSA. That will not change my plans of achieving fellowship, but I thought that this may be discouraging to new generations.
My hypothetical question to FSA's is: if you could go back in time, would you do it all over again?
10-19-2001, 09:48 AM
I think the answer to that question depends on how long an individual's travel time is. It seems to vary a great deal from person to person.
Just out of curiosity, how long did you tell him the travel time to FSA is??
10-19-2001, 09:51 AM
I told him that typically takes 7-10 years, although a few people do it in five.
10-19-2001, 09:54 AM
nine years was too long for the level truly available to my personality since I have no interest in the management track ... in retrospect, getting a phd and getting on a tenure track would better suit me
10-19-2001, 10:07 AM
Anonymous I agree with you. With an expected travel time of 7-10 years I don't know how they could recruit future generations of actuaries. Supposedly the new exam system was designed to reduce travel time. Maybe it will.
If I had believed it would take as long as 10 years to achieve fellowship I never would have joined the actuarial profession. I was convinced it could be done in 5 (with sacrifice) and that seemed like a reasonable amount of time to me.
Right now, I'm on track to finish in just under 5 years. Would I do it again? Yes. But if it had taken me 10 years to finish, my answer would definitely be NO.
Dr T Non-Fan
10-19-2001, 12:09 PM
Average Travel Time is not a good stat to use. The exam system has changed.
The SOA would rather have people quit than to keep going. That would lower the travel time, since quitters aren't included in the stat.
Having exams that only the best and brightest will pass will shorten travel time.
Long travel times are a mark of persistence and stubbornness. They were also a result of smaller, bite-sized exams that people could eventually pass. The SOA has taken care of that. So they think.
Dr T Non-Fan
10-25-2001, 01:30 PM
Also, the students in the old program CHOSE to take longer, since the choice was available.
This could be stopped by having only one exam. Prohibitively expensive, and difficult enough that only the best and brightest can pass it. Many of the rest never retake.
10-26-2001, 09:11 AM
Would I do it all over again? Yes.
Could I do it all over again? Probably not.
10-27-2001, 01:29 PM
How do you measure travel time if you started taking exams while in school, but at a slower rate? do you still measure from your first sitting, or do you start with your first post-collegiate sitting?
Dr T Non-Fan
10-29-2001, 12:21 PM
Another reason not to believe that travel time is a useful statistic. Ambiguous start points.
To OY: Another reason -- as actuaries, we should know better than to project one person's expected travel time assuming averages. There's way too much variance at the individual level. Point is, you can't tell how long it will take you. You have to make an educated guess, take the salary, and go for it.
I would hope that future qualified actuaries would know the difference as well. In other words, the SOA is better off if someone decides not to enter the profession based on one's observation of mean travel time.
The marketing strategy should be: "Yes there are exams, to make sure that those who pass them are highly qualified professionals. While studying and taking exams, you are a paid white-collar worker, making, with one exam, an average of $______. (Not as much variance here.) Compare that to the possible future lawyer or doctor still struggling to pass that exam or indenturing themselves. And compare that to the possible future accountant, who can get a job in the accounting field while attempting the CPA exams."
10-29-2001, 10:34 PM
If you think it is theoretically beter if long-travel timers don't enter the profession, than what do you think this would do if the SOA/CAS really is limiting entry to 30-40% (on each exam)? This would just make things even more difficult. You should want more people to attempt exams. Unless of course there is no truth to the "entry barrier", but that is another debate...
Dr T Non-Fan
10-30-2001, 12:39 PM
For those who believe that travel time is the marketing tool for luring people into the profession, they should try to discourage the slightly lower than highly qualified from entering. These obstinate, stubborn, self-centered exam takers are ruining the travel time. anyone less qualified than those who would eventually squeak in should be encouraged, since they won't affect the travel time statistic. (They won't ever make it, so they're not counted.)
I do not believe travel time is a useful marketing tool. (If I've given this impression, please slap me.) High salaries would be more useful, along with a stiffer policy among companies to cut off the less qualified sooner.
The actuarial profession's competition is not doctors, so we shouldn't compare ourselves with the grueling travel time of them. Those people knew early on what they wanted to be. (Yeah, I think I did somewhere above. Scratch that.)
If we all looked back to see what we wanted to be long time ago, I would guess that 80% of ASA and FSA had no idea that the actuarial profession would be where they'd end up. The (mostly) unwanted genius. That's our market.
To follow up on silvers question, how do I (or the SOA) measure my travel time? I sat in Nov. 1990 (passing 100,110,130). Then I did not take another exam until Nov. 1998. Since then, I've sat for exams every 6 months. I usually say that I have X exams in Y sittings (ignoring May 1991 through May 1998). Sometimes I'll tell a recruiter that I started in this profession in Nov. 1998 and let them draw their own conclusions. (Who says that you have to be completely honest with a recruiter, anyway?) How does the SOA measure my travel time?
<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: slam on 2001-10-30 12:58 ]</font>
Dr T Non-Fan
10-30-2001, 01:19 PM
slam, the SOA doesn't, until you become an FSA. Then it might have a problem.
I have a very similar situation, but a wee bit longer. (Add 8 years.)
Travel time is a misleading marketing tool.
To make it less misleading:
"The average time to FSA is about 6 years (made up). However, 75% (made up) of those attempting an actuarial career do not become FSAs."
Brings up a new question: is the SOA in violation of its own ethical standards by misusing travel time in its marketing paraphernalia?
10-30-2001, 01:24 PM
Slam: I'm sure the SOA would count the intervening years as part of the travel time. The CAS used to have (does have?) a provision under which credit for passing exams expired after 10 yrs. Under that rule you would have to go back and take course #1 after previously having credit for it. I believe the CAS expiration of credit was deleted in the transition.
Dr T Non-Fan
10-30-2001, 05:26 PM
Oh, to answer your question: I agree with Macroman. You will be classified as one of the travel-time ruiners. Thanks a LOT!
10-30-2001, 09:28 PM
Since there's an exam discount for students, they may measure the time from your first sitting at the normal fee. This would probably be a better statistic to compare with other professions since most don't allow you to take their exams until you finish school (ie CFA). It would also be interesting to find out the travel times for ASA's as not everyone goes on to do their fellowship (although under the new system that'll probably change).
11-01-2001, 09:47 PM
Anyone know the average age of those acheiving their FSA?
Dr T Non-Fan
11-02-2001, 01:50 PM
I think the variance is too large to warrant providing this statistic, since it may be used inappropriately.
So, here's a gun (my guess). Don't shoot it at anything you don't WANT to shoot at:
The curve is probably pretty spiky on the left starting at 28 with a mode at 30, with a larger tail on the right, dropping around the 40 mark.
Plus or minus three years.
Important note: do not consider yourself the average potential FSA.
Here's another question: What's an FSA worth, in terms of years of experience relative to an ASA or non-ASA? The DW Simpson survey might have all these numbers.
In other words, an FSA at 30 is worth (in terms of salary and respect) a non-ASA at 40, or about 10 years of experience. Something to think about when deciding to start taking exams.
11-02-2001, 02:52 PM
To be honest, no I would not do it over again. I've been at this since 1994, and every week for the past few years I've wished that I had gone to business school instead. Starting pay packages for graduates from the top MBA programs are at least 33% more than I make now as a near-FSA. And an MBA only takes two years.
Beyond the monetary differential, I find working in the insurance industry to be a frustrating experience with its myriad state regulations and ancient "that's the way it's always been done" business practices.
And don't even get me started on the SOA and its proven inability to promote our profession and to develop a forward-thinking educational system. They should have put up their "Big Tent" a decade ago. Number 1 career my butt.
11-03-2001, 12:03 AM
On 2001-11-01 21:47, Anonymous wrote:
Anyone know the average age of those acheiving their FSA?
At the FAC I attended, they announced the average or median (I forget) age of the new FSAs. The number was 33; that I rembered because I was 29. :smile: My former boss said that the number at her FAC was also 33.
11-27-2001, 02:19 PM
3 exams. 2 years experience. $30,000 saved. apply to MBA - Master of Science in Math Finance or keep doing exams for other 5-7 years? it seems hard to find reasons to pursue the last option.
11-28-2001, 12:19 AM
if you don't like the work, then don't take the exams. i'm so pissed off at all the whineys (/wine' - eez/ noun; complaining persons) out there; "I'm just not sure"... get over it. bite the bullet and do the work or get the hell out. all this bellyaching is making me sick.
11-30-2001, 09:20 PM
It is very hard to get motivated to pass these exams when they are so unrelated to the actual work that we do (pensions). At least with an MBA you are learning something relevant to a job.
12-01-2001, 11:21 AM
I really understand what is in your mind. To be honest, I have the exact (100%) feelings as yours since 1996. I always asked myself why I am taking those stupid exams again and again. If it is related to money, then being an actuary can only give you a stable career, but not a very big money. So I started to think about changing career or taking an MBA. Since I always had these thinking in my mind, I really did not study at all, even I was sitting in front of the books. However, I could not tell anybody in my office, so I just "took" exam every time, and keep failing every time. In the mean time, I started look for other jobs, but I could not find something I wanted (something related to investment or finance). Also, I did not have enough money to go for a top MBA. But more important was, I needed to support my family. So having all these things since then, I was living in a world that I really did not know what I was doing. I am a kind of person need to know exactly the reason before doing anything, so if I don't really want and don't know what I am doing, then I just can't do it!
But now, I have to change, because my family responsibilties is even heavier than before. Well, this is life! NO CHOICE.
12-01-2001, 11:46 PM
StarfishPatrick - blow it out your ass!
The actuarial exam process is completely idiotic and a far cry from being useful to anyone other than life insurance/retirement actuaries.
Those in managed care/finance/investments would do much better by either getting an MBA or an MA. You make a hell of a lot more money with far fewer headaches.
Just look around this profession - the money is certainly not worth the effort (unless you're a workaholic consultant) and the SoA is a poor excuse for a professional organization. For the amount of time these idiot's have been around you'd think they would have figured out a way of portraying their professionals in a better light and more people would know what an actuary is.
The FSA holds little meaning in managed care and there are plenty of actuaries who would agree with me. If your goal is to be known as the reserve actuary or some actuarial chump cranking out rate filings then you've found the right profession - if your goal is to become a premier health care consultant then you've got an uphill battle.
On a brighter note, everyone thinks you're smart if you have FSA behind your name and you can make a few hundred K in consulting (after about 10 - 15 years in the profession), and oh yes it is such a stable profession (just ask those FSA's who've been laid off in the last six months.
12-02-2001, 02:52 PM
Why is it that people who are so adamant in their stance, and profane, don't have the courage to identify themselves? I feel it reduces any validity of their statements.
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