One of the main challenges faced by the financial sector is quantitative assessment of future risk.
Financial risk can arise due to unpredictable nature of factors such as interest rate and default rate.
An insurance company, on the other hand, is exposed to a multitude of additional risks such as mortality, longevity, and natural hazards. An actuary is a highly trained business professional who is uniquely qualified to quantitatively assess these risks and make decisions on product pricing and reserving. Actuaries provide assessments of financial systems, with a focus on returns, views on future economic conditions, and chances of realization.
Globally recognized and a highly sought-after profession, actuaries use skills and expertise developed through an arduous professional qualification process. Although a relatively unheard-of profession in Sri Lanka, actuaries are an integral part of an insurance business. However, due to the time and effort required to be a fully qualified actuary, the profession has experienced slow growth in Sri Lanka. To be a qualified actuary, one is required to complete around 15 exams of a recognized professional body, such as the Society of Actuaries of US and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries of UK, and have worked under qualified actuaries to gain necessary experience.
Additionally, they are expected to meet professionalism standards and continuous professional development criteria set by these organizations.
There are currently less than 10 fully qualified actuaries practicing in Sri Lanka. At the same time, the demand for actuarial expertise has grown exponentially due to changing regulatory requirements, as well as the dynamic and competitive nature of the financial services industry.
Insurance companies in particular, stand to benefit immensely by integrating the actuarial function as part of their core operations and involving actuarial expertise in strategic decisions. This requires diverse global experience coupled with an understanding of local market dynamics.
Taking these factors in to consideration, Dr. Milanthi Sarukkali who has over 10 years of experience as a life actuary and is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, USA, with a Ph.D. in actuarial science from University of Connecticut, founded Spark Actuarial and Risk Consultants in 2015. It is the largest actuarial consulting firm in Sri Lanka and is a timely answer to the growing demand from the local financial services industry.
Led by Dr. Milanthi Sarukkali, Spark prides itself on a team of fully qualified actuaries working in the life, health and general insurance sectors. Spark’s senior team includes four fellows from the Society of Actuaries, Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society. Maureen Tresnak who leads the healthcare vertical of Spark, has over 20 years of experience in the US, many of which have been supporting Medicare, a government sponsored insurance programme for the elderly. Steven Glicksman, a veteran in the property and casualty space, leads the general insurance vertical, and is passionate about providing strategic input to clients on product design and pricing. He is particularly skilled in working with emerging markets, specialized risks and incomplete data. Dr. Shayanthan Pathmanathan, who supports the life insurance vertical, has extensive experience in the life insurance sector particularly in asset-liability management (ALM) and Solvency II. He is a fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, and holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Oxford.
Dr. Milanthi Sarukkali notes, “Our team in Sri Lanka has been successfully providing off-shore support to large global insurers in the U.S. and Asia for almost two years. Spark adheres to global professionalism, standards, processes and quality controls to ensure that the services we provide are on par with international requirements.
Our aim is to also develop the actuarial profession in Sri Lanka through mentoring, providing global exposure and guidance, and support for obtaining actuarial science designations.”