cera-1The CAS welcomed its inaugural class of candidates who earned the CERA (Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst) credential in the fall of 2012. The purpose of the CERA designation is to promote actuaries in the field of ERM. The credential identifies actuaries who meet stringent education requirements in ERM and are governed by a strong code of professional conduct.

Recently, I emailed a few questions to the 2012 CERA inaugural class, and asked them to share details of the process they went through to earn their CERA credential. The individuals that responded include:

Sandy Wu FCAS, CERA is a Vice President & Actuary for Allied World Assurance Company.  Sandy is also a member of the Examination Committee and Vice President of the Casualty Actuaries of Bermuda (CABER) Regional Affiliate.

Bryan Ware FCAS, CERA is a Senior Vice President & Chief Actuary for Employers Insurance Group. Bryan has served the CAS as a member of the Committee on Reserves, Committee on Reinsurance Research, and the Examination Committee.

Avraham Adler FCAS, CERA is a Vice President for Guy Carpenter & Co. LLC. Avraham is a member of many CAS committees including the Variance Editorial Board as an Editor.

Question: Why did you decide to pursue the CERA certification? What were the most valuable aspects of the CERA credential to you?

Sandy: I decided to pursue the CERA because I work in capital modeling. I thought the material would help me better understand capital modeling and other risk management issues we face and assist me with my day-to-day job responsibilities.

Bryan: In order to learn more about the topic. I wanted to sharpen skills in this area.

Avraham: I am very interested in Enterprise Risk Management and am considering heading my career in that direction, and thus wanted to demonstrate competence, if not excellence, in the area. In my daily work I have reason to use elements of risk management, even though I am not in an official “risk management” position, and felt (correctly) that pursuing the CERA would help me in my day-to-day work.

Question: What resources did you use to help you prepare for the CERA exam?

Sandy: I used the textbooks and papers that were part of the core reading. I also ordered the ActEd course notes and Q&A bank to supplement the core materials.

Bryan: I mainly used the links that were within the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries website.

Avraham: I used the texts on the syllabus (Sweeting and Lam), the ActEd course notes, and series X exams.

Question: What was it like to sit for the exam?

Sandy: I think the hardest part about sitting for the exam was getting used to the format of the exam. I had never sat for an exam through the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries so I wasn’t used to the format of their questions. The Enterprise Risk Management and Modeling Seminar did provide some preparation for the exam format, which was very useful for passing the exam.

Bryan: Difficult, as much is focused on life and pension business. However, this was my first exam in 19 years, so studying is a little different now that I’m 19 years older.

Avraham: There is no getting around that actuarial exams are difficult from the large amount of covered material and time constraints. However, the feeling of accomplishment upon successfully passing the exam is wonderful!

Question: How was your experience with the Enterprise Risk Management and Modeling Seminar for CERA Qualifications?

Sandy: I liked the format of the seminar because they really encouraged participation and discussion. It was a mixture of lectures and participants working in teams on different case studies throughout the seminar. One of the most valuable parts of the seminar was when they had a UK-qualified actuary come in to review the format of the exam and walk through a few sample problems. This really gave me a better understanding of how to answer the exam questions, which was invaluable when sitting for the exam.

Bryan: I had a great time meeting new people.

Avraham: I enjoyed it thoroughly. While it wasn’t an exam preparation seminar, it was, more importantly, an excellent framework in which to discuss ERM-related issues with others in the profession, and to get hands-on training in modeling, discussion, and decision-making.

Question: How long did the process take?

Sandy: I think the whole process took about 6 months from when I first decided to pursue the CERA certification. I decided to pursue the CERA certification in January, attended the Enterprise Risk Management and Modeling Seminar in March, sat for the ST9 exam in April and then found out the results in July.

Bryan: The entire process of earning my CERA certification took a little over 5 months. I studied over 400 hours in a 5 month period.

Avraham: I ordered the Acted material in mid-December 2011, received it about a week later, and took the exam on April 23, 2012. So I figure it took about four months.

Stay tuned for our next blog post where you can learn more about what Sandy, Bryan, and Avraham would have done differently while completing their CERA certification, what skills they have learned from the CERA certification process, and what the CERA credential means for their futures.

Are you interested in earning the CERA credential through the CAS? Find out how by reviewing the CERA page on the CAS Web Site. And take note: registration for the Enterprise Risk Management and Modeling Seminar for CERA Qualification, scheduled for March 18-20 in Chicago is now open. And the next administration of Exam ST9, Enterprise Risk Management Specialist Technical, will be held on 23 April 2013. There is a special registration process for those taking Exam ST9 to fulfill the CAS CERA requirements. The registration deadline is 7 February 2013.

As always, please feel free to comment and tell us your thoughts on the CAS CERA certification process.



About Bob Searson

Bob Searson is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Casualty Actuarial Society.