Ever heard of actuarial science? If you are a maths person and you haven’t heard about it, this is something for you to read. Even if you know what it is all about, here is a way to find inspiration to go long in this field.
Actuarial science involves quantitative analysis and management of risks and contingencies. As an actuarial science major, you learn about risk management, risk analysis, quantitative financial analysis, data analysis, and predictive modeling. The field of actuarial science is slowly gaining popularity and recognition in India.
We interacted with Mr. Nikhil Gupta who is presently working in RSA Insurance. With a 300 year heritage, RSA is one of the world’s leading multinational insurance groups. It works to make a difference by protecting people and businesses against risks.
Actuarial Science is not that common career option till now. What led you to take up this career?
Nikhil speaks, “My father knew about this profession during his school days but he chose Chartered Accountants (CA) over Actuarial Science. I went to pursue engineering from Jaypee Institute of Information Technology but I wanted to go for Actuarial Science too. So during my engineering only, I thought of giving it a try. I started giving its exams. There are around 15 exams overall. By the time I finished my engineering, I had passed quite a number of papers. I got my first actuarial job in XL Catlin Insurance.“
How was working experience in XL and Torus Insurance?
“At XL, it was my first job, my starting platform. I was there for just 1 year 2 months as Actuarial Analyst. I also worked in Torus Insurance for 3 years as Senior Actuarial Analyst. Both these jobs had a lot of technical work. It was a good experience overall”, he says. Nikhil has pursued Actuarial Science from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFA), UK and Institute of Actuaries of India (IAI).
You also went to London for your M.Sc. degree. How was the experience there?
Nikhil says, “Yes, in between my working experience in XL and Torus, I pursued M.Sc. in Actuarial Management from the Cass Business School, City University, London. I completed the course with distinction in 2009. Studying overseas is definitely a very different experience; from living in a different country and getting involved in many activities to speaking to different people of different countries and cultures. Those were the best days of my life while I was studying. I got to talk to people from Indonesia, China, UK. In terms of the education pattern, there seems to be more flexibility about choosing your subjects. There were so many career networking sessions organised, with different companies coming over to interact with students and sharing their experiences and work profiles at their organisations.”
You got scholarship for studying abroad? How did you get to know about it?
“I was one of the first recipients of the Sareen Foundation Scholarship, founded by Vipin Sareen. This scholarship is basically a help for Indian students to study abroad. It was a really nice gesture by him. Through this scholarship, my colleges fees was more or less paid off. This made my decision of going overseas much more fruitful. When I met Sareen sir, the message I got from him was to give such a scholarship to some other worthy Indian student wanting to study abroad. So this is one my goals. I got to know about the Sareen scholarship from the Cass website (on the ‘Funding your study’ page)” , Nikhil shares about his Cass experience.
How did you feel when you were awarded with Meena Sidhwani Academic Excellence Award?
Nikhil tells, “Definitely it was a great feeling. It is an academic excellence award for those who do very well in actuarial career. I was awarded with it in an annual event that happens in Mumbai for actuaries. I am very honored to be a part of this prestigious career.”
What are the other things you invest your free time in and how would you describe your ideal Sunday?
“I run half marathons as a hobby. I have done 13 such marathons till now. I love reading books. I also like playing badminton. For an ideal Sunday, I prefer spending more time with my two little daughters. I like reading and talking to people about investing, long-term polices and financial topics.”
To get to a position like yours, one has to pass through 15 exams. That is a really long struggle, so how was your journey?
Nikhil speaks, “It really required a lot of hard work while I was doing my engineering. I had to miss my classes a few times and college fests that used to happen once in a year to study for actuarial exams as they often coincided. I generally never stayed in college during my free time. There were no common subjects so it required a bit of effort time-to-time because there was always consistent pressure in the back of my mind that exams are approaching. Still I don’t have any regrets for not attending classes or fests because it has now paid off really well.”
You also went for National Defence Academy (NDA) exam. What was the story behind that?
Nikhil explains laughingly, “That was a bit different story actually. It was not out of interest or any career options rather it was just a challenge. My dad, at his time, also gave this exam and ended up getting All India Rank of 33. I just took it as a challenge and got All India rank of 29. So that was the end of story. But certainly I take pride in saying that I’ve officer like qualities required to lead in the defense forces.”
What you consider as your biggest achievement or the happiest moment of your life?
“It was for sure in 2012. I would rather say it was my biggest relief when I got to know I had finally qualified as an actuary. I finally passed all the exams. I was in London at that time and it was a very good feeling that from now, there would be no more exams”, tells Nikhil.
Special credits to someone?
“To my dad of course. It has all been because of him only. Otherwise I would have been doing some coding job in Bangalore maybe. It was my dad only who brought this concept of actuarial science into my life and no one can take away mother’s credit in any success” ,speaks Nikhil.
Any future plans now?
“This is a question in my head too – What next? Prior to working in RSA Insurance, I worked as Appointed Actuary in The Oriental Insurance Company Ltd.which was the highest level role an actuary can take while working in actuarial capacity in India. In other professions, people usually reach such a stage by the age of 50. Reaching to such a stage with 30 more years to go does ignite the question – ‘What next?’. So basically the plan is to get into a wider role, to work in other areas that are not explored much yet”, shares Mr. Nikhil.
What do you think is the best thing about your work?
Nikhil tells, “The best thing is that you don’t have to sell anything like any insurance policy that people actually think actuarial science is all about. Selling is actually more stressing task in my opinion. My work is very balanced; you don’t have to stay for long hours in the office. You have the liberty to plan your work and above all it is one of the highest paid professions.”
So finally any message for the students..
“Reading this article, if someone gets inspired to go for Actuarial Science, it would be really great. Other than that whatever you do, your hard work will definitely pay off. Don’t get disheartened by failures rather learn from them. I think now a days there are a lot more options, so explore your hobbies and skills. Lastly whatever you decide to do, be committed to it”, concludes Nikhil.
Get in touch with Nikhil at:
LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fornikhil/?ppe=1