Actuary Exams

Has anyone here taken any of these? The FM exam through SOA looks to have overlap to the CFA exams, just more curious about these exams and any overlap with regards to studying or careers between the two. I have heard that they are very very difficult

actuarial is more difficult. I would not recommend it unless you have a math background and have an insurance interest. second, eigth, and VEEs overlap but the actuarial is a mile deeper. chief actuary in my company says - cfa is easier but more practical.

i took the first SOA exam about 4 years ago. the material is much more difficult than the CFA, more stats/math intensive. but you also dont have as much to cover as you do for a cfa exam. but this was before they changed the whole SOA system, and now there are so many exams. i have no clue if its now harder or easier than it was then.

I know an FSA/CFA who recently finished both programs. The FSA is much more difficult, and there is not that much overlap.

I am an FSA who is working on the CFA exams (just passed level 2). There is really not a whole lot of overlap between the two sets of exams. The quant covered on the CFA exams is really a subset of what you need to know for the preliminary actuarial exams. There is some fixed income and derivative material on the actuarial exams (at least under the old system), but that appeared in the later exams, not the preliminary exams. If you are planning on writing the actuarial exams, it helps if you have a math/stats background, although I know a few people who have been successful without one. The material in the preliminary exams (particularly exams C, MLC and MFE) is very technical and specific to actuarial science. If you haven’t seen it before, it will take some time to master. Also, keep in mind that it takes a LONG time to get through all of the actuarial exams. I would say that unless you are planning on using the actuarial designation directly (eg working in insurance, pensions), then focus on the CFA. Most of the time, people have no idea what an actuary is anyway :slight_smile:

I am an actuary and just passed L3 (read I am rich if any women are reading this). Anyway, actuarial exams are much tougher - took me 7 years to finish. CFA exams are easier and more relevant. In fact I attribute some of my success in CFA exams to taking the much tougher actuarial exams. It was like mental conditioning.

not much overlap IMO, I haven’t sat any FSA exam though.

A friend of mine just passed her L3. She went 3/3 and passed each level with flying colors. English also isn’t her native language. Actuarial exams, on the other hand, she’s had a tougher time with. She’s passed a few, and also failed. Actuarial exams are tougher.

Actuarial = much harder and much less interesting (to me, anyway). Just changed from actuarial (retirement consulting) to investment management and am much happier. Passed the first 2 exams and decided I’d had enough. That being said, it’s a great career for the right person. If you want to get exclusively into investment management, any of the actuarial credentials are a waste of time. Most people outside the actuarial profession don’t even know what an FSA/FCAS is, so the value of having both FSA and CFA is nil unless you work in an actuarial capacity. Some folks on the retirement side who have FSA/CFA do quite well (recently the large banks have been hiring actuaries right and left - JPM, etc.)

I am curious. I have always heard it is harder to get the FSA. Is this function of the material, the exams themselves, the grading curve, the length / # of exams. It seems to me, that it is more a function of how long it takes to get through the program. Are the actual exams more difficult (if so, is this because the probelm sets are harder, or because the pass rates are low?). I any event, I am sure the process is brutal.

Basically the exams are an absolute grind, the material is much more difficult and I’m told you rarely arrive at a final answer, you’re basically writing for part marks. If you think there’s uncertainty as to whether you’ve passed or failed any level of the cfa, on a SOA exam I’ve had friends walk out positive they failed, having not come to a single given final answer absolutely “BSed” other questions, and come out with a 9 or 10 (you need a 6 to pass, actuaries correct me if I’m wrong). My close friends going through the process typically book 400 hours per exam… ON A STOPWATCH. If you interrupt them while studying, they’ll stop the watch for the duration of a 52 second conversation. Depending on where you work or if you’re still in Uni, the detail of the study plan is down to the minute. Granted if you are at a large insurance company; you’re looking at some considerable coin relative to a fresh CFA student; $3000-5000 raise per exam with up to 3 and a half weeks of paid study days per exam. Try asking you’re boss for that as a CFA “student.”

Needhelp, Do you have any actuarial notes in pdf? Please send me - Much appreciated!

olzhik, I last took an exam in 2004. So I dont have any notes. SOrry.

guys at my firm take 120 hours plus get a week or two off. exam is much more difficult but amount of time spent out of work studying is about the same so i think the actual pressure is probably the same. Between the VEEs, Part 8, and Part 2 you learn just about everything you learn in the CFA’s. Corp Finance, Time Series, and Econ VEE is exactly the same as the CFA stuff - that is why you get credit for the VEEs is you pass CFA 2. bonuses are much more than 3-5k. 5% for 1-6 and 8th, 10% for 7, 15% for fellow. That does not include yearly increase in salary. You will be making a minimum of 150k base 7 years out of school - if you live in NYC. I attached expected salaries and NYC is usually in the 90th percentile.

Agreed, I should have clarified which market I was referring to.

the study time you get is misleading because your company does not ease up the work load on you. this means that in order for you to take that week off to study you have to make up for it, which eats into your normal study time. supervisors tend to load you up with projects close to study periods and exams. actuarial exams are hands down tougher than CFA exams.

needhelp Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > the study time you get is misleading because your > company does not ease up the work load on you. > this means that in order for you to take that week > off to study you have to make up for it, which > eats into your normal study time. supervisors tend > to load you up with projects close to study > periods and exams. > > actuarial exams are hands down tougher than CFA > exams. I agree with this. At my old firm (Aon, might as well go ahead and say it since I don’t work there anymore) many times I would find myself staying till 8 or 9 to get something done just because I took study time during the day. I asked what the point of study time was if you have to stay late to “make up for it” but nobody had a good answer… My manager would also give me an attitude when I had to take time off for tests because of client deadlines that fell around that timeframe. To be fair to Aon, that seems to have been a localized issue in my office - actuarial students in other offices had better experiences. Also to be clear it’s very rare for people to take entire weeks off - most places make you spread it out over the course of a couple months: 2 half days a week or something like that. Study time also varies by exam length. Still not bad though…wish I could get a deal like that for my CFA studies. On an unrelated note, Aon also stopped providing milk for coffee as a cost cutting measure last year…pretty sad.

Can someone with a non actuary background take those tests and pass those tests and change careers? I heard being an actuary was very boring? Is this true?

i have the utmost respect for someone who is a FSA CFA. its about the maximum pain any human can endure in pursuit of a living.

Nike, being an actuary is very interesting. You can only get thru the exams if you really enjoy it. The easiest route is to do a BS or MS in Act Sci. They also prepare you for the professional exams. rohufish, your statement is somewhat correct but if someone enjoys math, stats, and investments, its not as painful. You actually get paid to study and pass exams. I honestly believe that passing exams is a skill. Initially I hated taking exams but after a while I got the hang of how to pass. After that exams were like an interesting puzzle. This helped me tremedously when I started taking the CFA exams. L2 and L3 were like interesting puzzles to me and I never broke down. I did break down several times studying for actuarial exams.