In our last CAS Roundtable blog post, Q&A With CAS CERAs, a few CAS members shared their experiences with achieving their CERA credentials, such as preparing for the exam and attending the required seminar. In part 2 of the CAS Roundtable blog post, Sandy Wu, Bryan Ware, and Avraham Adler are joined by a new participant, Vikas Shah FCAS, CERA to discuss the key takeaways from the CERA credentialing process.
What does earning the CERA certification mean for your future as an actuary?
Sandy: Because I work in capital modeling, I was excited for a certification that could set risk management professionals apart. I think the certification will help with building credibility with both internal and external parties I work with.
Bryan: I’m not sure. I’m Chief Actuary of a company now, doing risk management functions in addition to other tasks. I suspect I’ll get more involved in this as the company grows and regulations mature on this topic.
Avraham: I believe it demonstrates a facility and training in ERM, and will hopefully open up more opportunities in risk management.
Vikas: I have much more credibility in regards to my abilities to contribute in an ERM role. The number of possibilities for me has expanded.
What new skills did you learn as part of the CERA certification process, and how have you applied those skills on the job?
Sandy: The CERA certification process helped me understand capital modeling concepts that I use on the job. For example, it gave me a better understanding of the different types of copulas that can be used for correlating risks and the properties of each type of copula.
Bryan: Honestly, I think the main skill was to relearn study techniques and absorb the information. It was a great learning experience.
Avraham: Probably the most important skill I learned, or enhanced, was the ability to view problems from more than one perspective—from “outside the silo” as it were. Decisions on risk management, be it a decision to ignore, hedge, transfer, or outright remove, do not only affect the business unit in which the risk resides, but the entire enterprise. For example, is the company as a whole better off with one kind of reinsurance structure, even though a particular business unit may be better off with another? The course also forced me to develop more technical skills, especially in the area of copulæ.
Vikas: I really strengthened a lot of skills as opposed to learning many new skills. I did significantly enhance my understanding of copulas.
If you could go back and improve upon any of the steps you took to receive your CERA certification, what would they be?
Sandy: I say this with every actuarial exam I have ever taken but I would have started studying for the CERA exam earlier. There is a lot of material to get through and the more time you have to practice answering questions and get used to the format, the better prepared you will be for the exam. Because this is a fairly new certification, my company did not have a study program and I wasn’t able to take study time like I would have for other actuarial exams. You never know what your work load will be like closer to the exam date, so it’s a good idea to start studying earlier.
Bryan: Unfortunately, I was playing catch-up on some topics, because a lot of the background material was not a part of the past syllabus for the CAS fellowship exams.
Avraham: Thankfully I passed on my first try, but if I could go back, I would have wanted to start studying earlier. During the process of becoming a fellow, I preferred to finish the syllabus about a month before the exam, leaving that last month for “whole-syllabus/full exam” testing. This time, I realized that I was going to finish the syllabus only about a week before the exam. That made the last month or so very stressful.
Vikas: I would like to review the materials from the process again after I have more hands on experience.
The CAS Roundtable blog thanks Sandy, Byran, Avraham, and Vikas for their participation in sharing their experiences with earning their CERA credential. If you are interested in learning more about earning the CERA through the CAS, please visit the Casualty Actuarial Society website
Did this post inspire you to work towards your CERA credential? Please leave a comment and let us know; we welcome your feedback!