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  #1  
Old 06-15-2017, 01:06 AM
ubhutto ubhutto is offline
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Question Advice for Accounting / Actuary student

Hello Everyone

I am a recent grad of st john's university. I graduated with my bachelor's in accounting with a minor in mathematics. Apparently their Career Services department is really good and well connected to all the major insurance companies. i ended up getting internship offers / full-time offers from several insurance companies / Big 4. I applied to their MS in Actuarial Science as i believe that a masters has basically become a norm in many industries e.g. accounting, finance etc. and ended up getting a full scholarship. I also had some free time so i took all parts of the CPA, (2 scores are still pending because of the new changes).

Provided my background in accounting, and assuming i pass a couple of exams, would CAS be a better route or L&R. I know it may be a bit too early to even start thinking about specialization but from what i've seen, being an actuary isn't enough, you also have to know your industry. Its better to start understanding and learning about the specific industry i want to go towards now than later.

Thanks in advance for all your help.
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  #2  
Old 06-15-2017, 07:36 AM
nonactuarialactuary nonactuarialactuary is offline
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Either option is decent between the CAS and SOA tracks, it just depends on what interests you more. CAS is property & casualty risks (auto, homeowners, workers compensation, general liability, etc.). SOA is everything else. By L&R, I'm guessing you mean life & retirement? If so, those are both SOA tracks. Also, don't forget about health insurance; that's also on the SOA path. The first few exams are the same between the two societies (or at least they used to be; the two organizations aren't as close anymore). Most people fall into the specialization they started with, but things like rotational programs can help you narrow down your preferences.

A masters in actuarial science definitely isn't the norm in this field. You might need it in other fields, but most people in actuarial roles have a quasi-related bachelors degree and a few exams to start out. An accounting/math major/minor is certainly enough to break into the field if you have exams. If you were paying for it yourself, the masters would definitely be a bad idea. However, with the full scholarship, it's not so terrible aside from the few extra years eating ramen on a student income. If you've got full time job offers with insurance companies and/or Big 4 consultancies, I think that'd be better than spending more time in school. Not sure if those are still on the table for you or not though.

As for knowing the industry, you learn that with on-the-job experience. Very few entry-level people know anything meaningful about the industry, and even when they do, they won't know the company-specific stuff necessary for the day-to-day. The masters program might teach you some of that, but learning something in an academic setting is no substitute for actual experience working in the industry. The preliminary exams are math focused and barely touch insurance concepts until Exam 5 (at least on the CAS side), so again, the best option is to take the full time job rather than go to the masters program. You'll probably get a broader sense of the industry in a consulting role, but you'll get to specialize more in a particular area in an insurance role.
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  #3  
Old 06-15-2017, 11:37 AM
Dr T Non-Fan Dr T Non-Fan is offline
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Moved to Careers.
Let's try reading stuff. Like:

Quote:
Originally Posted by note at the top of General Actuarial Forum
General Actuarial Non-Specific Actuarial Topics - Before posting a thread, please browse over our other sections to see if there is a better fit, such as Careers - Employment, Actuarial Science Universities Forum or any of our other 100+ forums.
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DTNF's Basic Philosophy Regarding Posting: There's no emoticon for what I'm feeling! -- Jeff Albertson (CBG)
DTNF's Trademarked Standard Career Advice: "pass some exams and get back to us."
DTNF's Major advice: "Doesn't matter. Choose major that helps you with goal of Career Advice."
DTNF's Résumé Advice: Have a good and interesting answer to every item on it for the interviews.
DTNF's Law of Job Offers: You not only have to qualify for the position, but you also have to be the best candidate available for the offer.
DTNF's Work Philosophy: I am actuary. Please insert data. -- Actuary Actuarying Rodriguez.
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  #4  
Old 06-15-2017, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nonactuarialactuary View Post
Either option is decent between the CAS and SOA tracks, it just depends on what interests you more. CAS is property & casualty risks (auto, homeowners, workers compensation, general liability, etc.). SOA is everything else. By L&R, I'm guessing you mean life & retirement? If so, those are both SOA tracks. Also, don't forget about health insurance; that's also on the SOA path. The first few exams are the same between the two societies (or at least they used to be; the two organizations aren't as close anymore). Most people fall into the specialization they started with, but things like rotational programs can help you narrow down your preferences.

A masters in actuarial science definitely isn't the norm in this field. You might need it in other fields, but most people in actuarial roles have a quasi-related bachelors degree and a few exams to start out. An accounting/math major/minor is certainly enough to break into the field if you have exams. If you were paying for it yourself, the masters would definitely be a bad idea. However, with the full scholarship, it's not so terrible aside from the few extra years eating ramen on a student income. If you've got full time job offers with insurance companies and/or Big 4 consultancies, I think that'd be better than spending more time in school. Not sure if those are still on the table for you or not though.

As for knowing the industry, you learn that with on-the-job experience. Very few entry-level people know anything meaningful about the industry, and even when they do, they won't know the company-specific stuff necessary for the day-to-day. The masters program might teach you some of that, but learning something in an academic setting is no substitute for actual experience working in the industry. The preliminary exams are math focused and barely touch insurance concepts until Exam 5 (at least on the CAS side), so again, the best option is to take the full time job rather than go to the masters program. You'll probably get a broader sense of the industry in a consulting role, but you'll get to specialize more in a particular area in an insurance role.
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  #5  
Old 06-15-2017, 12:04 PM
Dr T Non-Fan Dr T Non-Fan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ubhutto View Post
Hello Everyone
...

Provided my background in accounting, and assuming i pass a couple of exams,
I think you should pass some exams first, instead of assuming. Check the pass rate. Your minor in math might be helpful, but most people study for the exams, and not merely take them as if they were an IQ test.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubhutto View Post
would CAS be a better route or L&R. I know it may be a bit too early to even start thinking about specialization
Yes, it is.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubhutto View Post
but from what i've seen, being an actuary isn't enough, you also have to know your industry.
Not sure what you've seen, but I don't think this is all that necessary. Know what an actuary does (assists in transferring risks by pricing them) And apply it to the industry in question. Employer will train you on specifics.

I think you should pass some exams first, before thinking about any job.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubhutto View Post
Its better to start understanding and learning about the specific industry i want to go towards now than later.
But you don't know which one you want to go into.
How about learning a little about all types of actuarial careers? Perhaps that would help in your deciding which to pursue?
Your accounting background will not be more helpful for one actuarial field over another. Your major will be more of a curiosity among all the STEM résumés.

And, learning about stuff that will be on actuarial exams?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubhutto View Post

Thanks in advance for all your help.
Why, you're welcome!

And, pass some exams and get back to us.

After you've passed exams, start applying to as many companies as humanly possible. So, you should know something about every field, enough to get by in an interview.

Should probably check this thread out. It is a thread stuck near the top of the list of threads.
http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actu...ad.php?t=46382
It exists because people come here to ask questions about the actuarial field, and it's easier to keep the stock answers in one place.
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DTNF's Basic Philosophy Regarding Posting: There's no emoticon for what I'm feeling! -- Jeff Albertson (CBG)
DTNF's Trademarked Standard Career Advice: "pass some exams and get back to us."
DTNF's Major advice: "Doesn't matter. Choose major that helps you with goal of Career Advice."
DTNF's Résumé Advice: Have a good and interesting answer to every item on it for the interviews.
DTNF's Law of Job Offers: You not only have to qualify for the position, but you also have to be the best candidate available for the offer.
DTNF's Work Philosophy: I am actuary. Please insert data. -- Actuary Actuarying Rodriguez.
Twitches' Advice to Crazy Women: Please just go buy your 30 cats already.
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  #6  
Old 06-15-2017, 02:00 PM
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mathmajor mathmajor is offline
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I didn't read anything but don't do accounting
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  #7  
Old 06-15-2017, 02:20 PM
Aspiring Act Aspiring Act is offline
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Hi, do a search in SOA directory and you will find many credentialed actuaries with CPAs as well. Maybe go talk to them if there are some local.

I did accounting too in college but actually hated it. Accounting is really different than actuarial. Accounting is all about looking at the past to see what has happened already, making sure all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed. Actuarial is about looking into the future and doing projections.
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  #8  
Old 06-19-2017, 01:14 AM
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willel2338 willel2338 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ubhutto View Post
Hello Everyone

I am a recent grad of st john's university. I graduated with my bachelor's in accounting with a minor in mathematics. Apparently their Career Services department is really good and well connected to all the major insurance companies. i ended up getting internship offers / full-time offers from several insurance companies / Big 4. I applied to their MS in Actuarial Science as i believe that a masters has basically become a norm in many industries e.g. accounting, finance etc. and ended up getting a full scholarship. I also had some free time so i took all parts of the CPA, (2 scores are still pending because of the new changes).

Provided my background in accounting, and assuming i pass a couple of exams, would CAS be a better route or L&R. I know it may be a bit too early to even start thinking about specialization but from what i've seen, being an actuary isn't enough, you also have to know your industry. Its better to start understanding and learning about the specific industry i want to go towards now than later.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

I know that most people here would advocate just passing exams and foregoing graduate education. I'll be a contrarian and say that, while there are likely better graduate degrees of which you could avail yourself, getting the master's in actuarial science will help you. Given that you have a scholarship to do it, your opportunity cost of grad school is significantly less:
  1. A graduate degree in a quantitative field--even one as specialized as actuarial science--will still be transferable to many non-actuarial roles should you decide this path isn't for you, and further, it would lead to a higher starting salary in those other jobs as well. You certainly don't need it if you know that you want to be an actuary, though.

  2. Your graduate program will surely come with exam support: You should be able to pass most of the prelims if you are taking courses that directly cover the material... (You can't work in an actuarial role at this moment anyway without passing exams first!)

  3. As an active student, you will get access to on-campus recruiting and all the pull that your school has re: potential internships and connections with actuarial employers as far as landing a permanent actuarial position upon graduation. Work with your career services early.

Or, accept one of the full-time offers / internships that you have already received. Then, pass exams on your own. That seems like a fine route too. If it were me, I would take the scholarship to grad school.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Aspiring Act View Post
Accounting is all about looking at the past to see what has happened already, making sure all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed.
I know that we like to pick on accountancy on this forum, but if you're good at it, it's not a bad field. There are a lot of bookkeepers posing as accountants, I suppose; however, that's a grim assessment of the profession, and, is a fraction of what accounting graduates do. There is room for accountants in M&A deals, as forensic accountants uncovering fraud, as corporate tax preparers and tax planners, in managerial accounting and forward-looking resource allocation, e.g., nearly all CFOs have accounting backgrounds as do *many* CEOs and executive-level managers, and then you've also got some CPAs who work on Wall Street as market analysts, etc...
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  #9  
Old 06-19-2017, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mathmajor View Post
I didn't read anything but don't do accounting
Or actuarial science

Pick a major that will challenge you and give you lots of options
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  #10  
Old 06-19-2017, 11:08 AM
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Maine-iac Maine-iac is offline
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A general accounting background could be useful on either side. If you are interested in somehow working with investments, though, I go with the SOA side of the house. It's not like investments aren't important to P&C companies, but they are much longer term and more investment supported on the life side. Much bigger deal in life and pension work than in in health or P&C.

If you aren't especially enthralled with the asset side of things, either way would be fine.
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