Actuarial careers in banking: Ritika Agarwal
Student member Ritika Agarwal tells us what made her want to become an actuary and what appeals to her about a career in banking.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background
I’m a student member at the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, UK. I live in Kolkata, India and graduated from the J.D. Birla Institute, which is affiliated to Jadavpur University, in 2017 with a B. Coms Honours. (This is business-oriented course that focuses on business, taxation, accounting etc.) I’m currently an intern at Pramartha. In my spare time I love watching and playing sport, especially table tennis and skating.
I’m also an active volunteer for Bhumi NGO. This is one of India’s largest youth volunteer non-profit organisations. Volunteers educate and mentor children from orphanages and poor villages across the country to help give them a better future; this benefits India as well as the children.
What made you want to be an actuary?
When I was at school I really enjoyed calculus. I’ve always liked problem solving – I love Sudoku! I enjoy maths and being able to relate it to real-life scenarios. What I like about being an actuary is that as well as numerical skills, you also need to be able to communicate ideas effectively without using technical jargon, and you need judgement skills as well, for example when interpreting outputs. Another thing I really like about the actuarial career is that actuaries are specialists in different areas, which means they can enter quite a number of industries – banking, insurance and pension, to name just a few.
Would you consider banking as a career route?
Yes, I’m definitely considering it. I think banking forms the backbone of any economy. As such, it is vast and diverse, full of opportunities, provided we see and grab them. There are also high-profile areas, such as credit risk and consultancy, that grab my attention. There are opportunities for interdepartmental transfers too. I think banking could give me some great insights, as well as being an excellent learning environment.
Banking is a dynamic industry, so I think if I have this opportunity why not grab it and see where it leads me.
Which exam papers do you think are helpful for entering the banking industry?
I personally think that CM2 Financial Engineering and Loss Reserving paper is relevant as it’s to do with the financial calculations part. Many of the concepts in this paper cover asset valuations and investment risk, which are a big feature in the banking industry. The CM1 paper also covers some of the concepts related to loan schedules but CM2 covers more concepts that are useful for the banking industry, and in greater detail. The revised curriculum also tests our skills based on Excel, which is an add on.
What do you think are some of the challenges you might face going into banking?
I’m not very familiar with banking terminology, so that could be difficult at the interview. But my mind was put at rest after I was mentored by some industry experts who advised me that facing an interview would not be tough, provided I was well versed with the terminology that’s frequently used and the regulatory requirements. Even if I was going for a traditional role in insurance, preparation would still be needed.
Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
One of the things that attracts me to actuarial science is the opportunity to wear different hats. As an actuarial analyst, I would be exposed to various projects that would provide different learning experiences.
In the next ten years, as well as developing my analytical skills, I also hope to use my writing and programming skills to develop my career path. But what excites me most is to learn about the industry from experienced people in the field.
You can find out about more about career opportunities in banking, as well as a range of support and resources for starting out in a career in banking, on our Banking Lifelong Learning web page.