Actuaries Around the World: Turkey

This month, we have the pleasure of interviewing of Taylan Matkap. Born in 1978 in Antakya, Taylan graduated from Ankara University, Department of Statistics and completed his master’s degree in the Department of Actuarial Sciences and Finance at Boston University. He is currently pursuing his doctorate studies at Ä°stanbul University, Department of Labor Economics and Industrial Relations. Taylan serves as the Secretary General of the Actuarial Society of Turkey, is the Society’s representative on the International Actuarial Association and is a volunteer on the Ruin Theory Dividends working party (IFoA). In addition, Taylan has served as a member on the Committee on Ratemaking of the Casualty Actuarial Society (2006-2007).

ACTEX Learning (AL): How many practicing actuaries do you have?

Taylan Matkap (TM): There are 122 registered and 147 trainee and assistant actuaries in Turkey.

AL: What is the word for actuary in your local language?

TM: Actuary is written as Aktüer in Turkish

AL: When was actuarial science first introduced?

TM: Actuarial science was first introduced in 1951 with the foundation of The Actuarial Society in Turkey.

AL: What is your favorite part about being an actuary?

TM: Since there are very few actuaries in Turkey, there are strong career opportunities. Also, estimating the future, the realization of your estimates and creating new models for your company makes me happy. While deciding on which subject to pursue in university, the main criterion I looked for was the ability for me to successfully perform and enjoy my work.

AL: Can you share an interesting anecdote from your career?

TM: A lot of people in our country still do not know what an actuary is. In 2007, there was a seminar about the best jobs in the world and people mixed it up with “actor”. They asked me all about the movies.

AL: What are some of the highlights of the history of the actuarial profession?

TM: Although the actuarial society was founded in 1951 in Turkey, the actuarial profession became well known and popular in the 2000s. The value of the actuarial sciences and actuaries are increasing day by day. Most of our colleagues are young, open-minded and open to improvement. Since 2008, all the financial statement tables of insurance companies are signed off by a registered actuary.

AL: What are some of the main challenges and projects for your association over the next 5-10 years?

TM: One of the main projects is to obtain full responsibility for actuarial exams in Turkey. In addition, our association is aiming to be a full member of the IAA. Finally, we want to host a large Congress of Actuaries in Ä°stanbul.

AL: What developments on the horizon could affect future opportunities in your country?

TM: The insurance sector has just started to play a critical role in the financial and economic development in our country. Becoming a member of the EU could speed up everything.

AL: What have you seen from inside your company? Where do you think the changes to actuarial work in your country will happen in the next five years?

TM: Currently almost 80% of the insurance companies are part of international groups. So, actuarial work is done under local regulations and international group standards. Our regulatory board is aiming to be in line with European Union / EIOPA – Solvency II standards. So, for the next five years, actuarial work will proceed according to that development.

AL: Who are the main employers of actuaries?

TM: Insurance companies and consulting firms.

AL: What qualifications do you find most important for upcoming actuaries?

TM: Training or education in actuarial sciences with analytical thinking and programming skills.

AL: Do the schools in your country have actuarial majors, minors, concentrations or do students study on their own or overseas?

TM: Since there are very few schools for actuarial education in our country, schools are not organized enough for studying overseas, but a significant part of the current registered actuaries have MSc degree from other countries. Also some small part of the students are very interested to receive training and work opportunities in other countries.

AL: What is the credentialing procedure like for an actuary in your country?

TM: In total, there are 13 examinations with 3 levels, where those examinations are organized by the Regulatory Board (Treasury), Universities and Actuarial Association. The first level has 4 exams where your basic statistics, mathematics, financial mathematics and regulation knowledge is tested. When you have the first level, you get the trainee actuary degree. The second level also has 4 exams, where your actuarial knowledge in life and non-life insurance mathematics, actuarial risk theory and financial theory and accounting standards knowledge is tested. After obtaining the second level, you receive the assistant actuary degree. The third and last level has 5 exams where your detailed knowledge of life, non-life, health, pension business and financial investment knowledge is tested. If you have third level, which means that you have 13 exams in total, and if you have at least 3 years of working experience as an actuary, you will obtain the title of registered actuary.

AL: Do employers support the cost and time of exam preparation?

TM: Most of the companies support the cost of the exams. But time given for exam preparation is not common in the market.

AL: Are there any noteworthy non-traditional actuarial positions?

TM: Not yet.

AL: What is the reputation of actuaries in your country?

TM: As mentioned before, actuarial science and the actuarial profession was first introduced in 1951 with the foundation of the Actuarial Society in Turkey. It became more well-known and popular in the 2000s. Since 2008, all the financial statement tables of insurance companies are signed off by a registered actuary. This obligation caused companies to focus on actuaries; however, as a profession, it is not as popular as being a lawyer, doctor or other traditional professions in Turkey. This is a challenge for us, but the new business cycle, new risks and the importance of technical profit will increase the popularity and the reputation of actuaries. The attitude of the insurance companies has started to change visibly with respect to the last decade.

AL: Is there anything else you would like to share?

TM: The Actuarial Society of Turkey is ready to become a Full Member of the IAA.

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