Recruitment teams are now going beyond engineering colleges, IITs and IIMs. Mathematics and statistics graduates are now the most sought-after by companies specialising in niche segments like actuarial process outsourcing (APOs). “There is going to be a 100% actuarial employee ramp-up this year in Patni BPO,” says Mr Sanjiv Kapur, senior vice-president & head BPO, Patni. Acute talent shortage and the high costs involved are driving many insurance giants in the US and UK to outsource their actuarial work to India. Actuaries are professionals who calculate insurance risks and premiums and assess the financial impact of a future event.
“We have about 150-200 actuarial staff who work as analysts and data scrubbers and they do a considerable amount of spade work,” explains Mr Mohit Thukrani, senior vice president and business leader, Genpact, a player in the actuarial space. “Around 60 of the actuarial staff are students, who we recruit and train under our Actuarial Development Programme,” he says. “They are encouraged to pursue their actuarial studies and work at the same time. There are ‘fellow actuarials’ to give them the necessary guidance,” he explains. And there are carrots aplenty to keep them going. “We give them a raise in salary each time they clear one of the actuarial papers. This is apart from the regular bonuses and salary,” he says.
In the case of EXL Service, which also offers APO services, “staffs are offered annual increments to the tune of 25-30% annually,” says Mr Rohit Kapoor, president and COO of EXL Service. At Patni BPO, “the remuneration that the actuarial student/staff earn is about two-three-times higher than the regular BPO jobs in India,” says Sanjiv. At the same time, it is considerably lower compared to their US/UK counterparts, which makes outsourcing a lucrative proposition. “About 50% of the actuarial staff at Patni BPO are engaged in less-complex work, handled mainly by students. Then there are students who have cleared 5-8 papers of the actuarial course who attend to the mid-complex level jobs,” explains Mr Sanjiv.
“The actual number of qualified actuarials may be just one or two. They attend to the highend jobs and they constitute just 5% of the APO staff,” he says. This seems to be the same matrix in other APOs as well. “About 75% of EXL Service’s actuarial staff are students,” says Rohit. At the same time, “about 60-65% of the Genpact actuarial staff are students,” says Mr Thukrani. Patni BPO, which boasts of an effective training engine, helps students clear their mandatory 14 papers, within the minimum time. “The advantage that India has is that we are able to offer the same services to global clients with lesser qualified resources and at minimal costs,” says Sanjiv.
“It requires a minimum of five years for a very bright student to clear the actuarial course,” explains Mr Thukrani. “Because the course is so skill-intensive, poaching risks are also very high,” he says.