Tommy Chan, Senior Actuarial Associate, Prudential Hong Kong Limited
Q : What was it like when you were an intern at Prudential while you were still studying?
A : During my six-month internship, I was assigned to the Par Fund Team which was responsible for calculating the annual dividend. I was then just a third year student in the university but I got to see how an insurance company predicted the future with a model. It was really amazing!
It so happened, at that time, the company decided to revise dividend level and so we had to build a new model and a new system which required software upgrade as well. I spent a lot of time to understand the concept behind and model coding. I then tried to explain the results from the model to my colleagues and my supervisors. It was a rare experience.
Q : You were hired as an actuary after graduation. What is your job now?
A : I belong to the group reporting team in the company and am mainly responsible for the report of the Hong Kong region. I have to calculate the cash flow and profit that can be generated from new business and policies in-force.
The actuarial department can actually be divided into five teams. The Participating Product and Investment Management Team is responsible for calculating policy dividends and studying investment strategies such as investment weighting in bonds and stocks; The Product Pricing Team is responsible for setting prices for new products and provides sales training and supports; The Reporting Team reports the latest financial and capital positions of the company; The Project Team supports projects such as calculation of models and preparation of implementation of new regulations; The Performance Management Team monitors team performance indicators to analyze the business and make suggestions on improvements.
Q : What is the difference between study and work?
A : Being a rookie in the company was the hardest time because, all of a sudden, I realized textbook knowledge was kind of“useless”. The information technology system in the company can already process big data but the most challenging is how to analyze and explain the results. When it comes to work, soft skills are far important. For us, calculation is a very simple thing. The most difficult is how to explain the figures.
Q : What are your advices to university students who want to get into the business?
A : First of all, you have to be open towards everything you do. If you do something this way this time, it does not mean that you have to do it the same way next time. You have to think if there's a way to make it so that you can improve yourself every time. You have to keep learning new knowledge. I belong to the financial report team, for example, but I also have to learn from the model team how to switch model codes.
Secondly, you have to be creative. One problem can actually be solved in different ways, and the same result can also be explained in different ways. We have to build different new tools to enhance our efficiency and use the time we saved to solve even more complicated problems. Whenever you have a new way, however, you must test it carefully because accuracy is extremely important in actuarial. Just a minor mistake can cause huge financial impact to the company.
We also have to train our logical thinking and analytical power well. It is easy to get a result from a model but it is very difficult to ensure that the result is correct because even with a wrong input, the model can still calculate. We can, however, use past results or sensitivity test to check if the results are correct.
Education Background: Bachelor’s Degree in Insurance, Financial and Actuarial Analysis, CUHK, 2013
Working Experience: Summer and part-time intern in Prudential Hong Kong