Actuarial Finance

Starting from the academic year 2018-2019 Birzeit University will introduce a new Bachelor degree program in Actuarial Finance. An interdisciplinary program that uses mathematical and statistical models to assess and manage risk in insurance and pension industries in order to solve emerging financial and social problems. Actuaries design life insurance, annuities and endowment policies by analyzing mortality and developing life tables. They also develop health care modules that account for several life contingencies. Pension actuaries assess whether pension schemes fit the employer and worker future needs, value employer’s liability, and determine the amounts to be paid to retirees. Capitalizing on their knowledge in evaluating risks, actuaries address financial matters and recommend investment strategies on a sound financial basis.

The Bachelor of Actuarial Finance program at Birzeit University seeks to provide high quality actuarial education, which addresses financial and social uncertainties relevant to individuals, corporations and society, in addition to graduating actuaries who can compete at both the local and the international levels.

The bachelor of Actuarial Finance program aims to:

  1. Provide students with Finance, Economics, Statistics, and Mathematics knowledge necessary for the Actuarial Science.
  2. Equip graduates with analytical and professional skills to solve emergent financial and social problems.
  3. Reinforce ethical values, commitment, as well as personal and academic integrity.
  4. Produce globally recognized actuaries who contribute to the development of actuarial science and practice.

A.Knowledge and Understanding

On successful completion of the program a graduate will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of finance related to risk and return, portfolio and corporate theories.
  • Explain the theory of interest and its application to the pricing of derivative products.
  • Recognize the economic reasoning relevant to actuarial problems.
  • Understand statistical and mathematical methods to account for uncertainties in economics, finance, insurance, investment and pension.

B.Intellectual and Cognitive skills

On successful completion of the program a graduate will be able to:

  • Synthesize relevant data from multiple sources to address actuarial issues.
  • Identify and select appropriate tools and techniques based on mathematics and statistics to manage risk in insurance, investment and pension.
  • Apply quantitative approaches to a problem in order to find effective solutions.
  • Assess tools and techniques needed to solve actuarial problems and acknowledge their limitations.

C.Subject-Specific and Practical Skills

On successful completion of the program a graduate will be able to:

  • Build financial models to accommodate big data.
  • Simulate life contingency models.
  • Use computer algorithm to solve actuarial problems.
  • Identify assumptions and document computations to verify recommendations.

D.General and Transferable Skills

On successful completion of the program a graduate will be able to:

  • Prepare written reports, present and defend results to relevant audience.
  • Develop interpersonal and teamwork skills and enhance ability to respond to change.
  • Pass the professional exams organized by international actuarial institutions.
  • Adhere to highest standards of ethical and professional behavior.
  1. Actuarial insurance broker: Actuaries are able to develop life insurance products and pricing strategies based on risk assessment.
  2. Investment analyst: Actuaries are trained to analyze financial performance, evaluate risk prospects, and identify potential investments.
  3. Data/Business analyst: Actuaries analyze data to help business make better decisions in relation to financial, marketing and operational strategies.
  4. Fund administrator / manager: Actuaries are able to manage investment portfolios.
  5. Liability manager: Actuaries are able to establish strategies to manage obligations in financial institutions.
  6. Consultant: Actuaries provide advice on financial decisions and valuation. Actuaries also design insurance funds, retirement plans and future financial planning strategies.
  7. Financial manager: Actuaries has strong theoretical background and solid analytical skills needed for high profile positions.

Conditions for acceptance in major:

  1. General Secondary Examination certificate -, scientific stream or equivalent.

 

Advisory plan

Student must successfully complete 134 credit hours distributed as follows

Requirements

Credit Hours

University Requirements

21-22

Faculty of Business and Economics Requirements

25

Major Requirements

81

Elective Courses

7-6

Total

134

 

Major in Actuarial Finance

Major requirements (81 credit hours)

a. Compulsory courses: 72 credit hours which include the following courses:

Course No.

Course Title

Prerequisite(s)

ACCT230

Financial Accounting 2

ACCT130

ACFI331

Interest Theory

MATH2311

ACFI430

Practical Training in Actuarial Science

Department’s Chair approval

ACFI431

Life Contingencies 1

ACTS331 and STAT3321

ACFI434

Risk Theory

STAT3321

ACFI435

Survival Models

STAT3331

ACFI439

Seminar in Actuarial Science

Department’s Chair approval

ECON3311

Intermediate Microeconomics 1

ECON132, MATH1411

ECON3321

Intermediate Macroeconomics 1

ECON132, MATH1411

ECON432

Introduction to Econometrics

STAT2361

FINN2300

Principles of Financial Management

FINN1300 and ACCT230

FINN233

Principles of Insurance

FINN2300

FINN3300

Corporate Finance

FINN2300

FINN331

Corporate Financial Analysis

FINN3300

FINN431

Investment Management

FINN3300

FINN434

Financial Derivatives and Future Markets

FINN3300

MATH2311

Calculus 3

MATH1321

MATH234

  • to Linear Algebra

MATH1321

STAT3311

  • 2

STAT2311

STAT3321

  • Theory

STAT3311 and MATH

STAT3331

Statistical Inference

STAT3321 and MATH234

STAT3341

  • Analysis

STAT3321 and MATH234

STAT435

Time Series Analysis

STAT3321 and MATH234

STAT436

Stochastic Processes

STAT3321 and MATH234

 

B. Elective courses: select any 6 credit hours from the following level 300 and above:

 

Finance courses

FINN

Economics courses

ECON

Mathematics courses

MATH

Statistics courses

STAT

Actuarial finance courses

ACFI

 

Course Description for Actuarial Finance (ACFI)

ACFI331           Interest Theory

Application of financial mathematics to problems involving valuation of financial transactions; equivalent measures of interest; rate of return on a fund; discounting or accumulating a sequence of payments with interest; determining yield rates; length of investment; amounts of investment contributions or amounts of investment returns for various types of financial transactions; loans and bonds; introduction to the mathematics of modern financial analysis; calculations involving yield curves, spot rates, forward rates, duration, convexity, and immunization.

Prerequisite: MATH2311

ACFI430           Practical Training in Actuarial Science

Undertake at least 200 hours of practical training that aims to offer students the opportunity to gain experience related to their future careers as actuaries and develop their communication skills, time management, and teamwork. The training is academically supervised by an instructor and formally arranged with one of the financial institutions. Assessment tasks include: a written report and feedback from the supervisor. Students undertake the training for at least two days a week during the regular semester or on full-time basis during the summer semester.

Prerequisite: Department Approval

ACFI431           Life Contingencies 1

Theory and applications of contingency mathematics in the areas of life and health insurance, annuities, and pensions; probabilistic models.

Prerequisite: ACFI331, STAT3321

ACFI432           Life Contingencies 2

Life insurance reserve for models based on a single life; introduction to multiple life models for pensions and life insurance and to multiple decrement models.

Prerequisite: ACFI431

ACFI433           Credibility Theory

The fundamental concepts of Bayesian statistics including estimation, prediction, hypothesis testing, and decision theory; time series analysis, including estimation and prediction based on ARIMA models; credibility theory including limited fluctuation, credibility theory and the Buhlmann-Straub model; several run-off techniques for estimating an outstanding claims reserve; and Monte Carlo techniques including the inverse transformation method, the polar method, and Monte Carlo integration.

Prerequisite: STAT3321

ACFI434           Risk theory

Modeling loss distributions; skewed parametric distribution families; method of moments; method of percentiles and maximum likelihood estimation; Pearson goodness-of-fit testing for distribution assessment; truncated and censored data including applications to reinsurance and policy excess schemes; random sums; convolutions and compound distributions particularly for modeling aggregate claim distributions; normal and gamma approximations to compound distributions; compound Poisson process theory including applications to insurance portfolio surplus processes; ultimate and finite-time ruin probabilities; adjustment coefficients and optimal reinsurance contracts.

Prerequisite: STAT3321

ACFI435           Survival Models

Parametric and tabular survival models; estimation based on observations that might not be complete; concomitant variables; use of population data; applications to groups with impaired lives.

Prerequisite: STAT3331

ACFI439           Seminar in Actuarial Science

Writing a research about issues in Actuarial Science, reading and criticising the literature related to the chosen topic, collecting and analysing data, presenting and discussing the research results, understanding the meaning and consequences of plagiarism.

Prerequisite: Department Approval

 

Course Description for Finance and Banking (FINN)

FINN1300        Principles of Financial Management 1

Importance of financial management, goals of financial management, financial analysis using financial ratios, time value of money, cash planning, profit planning, working capital and current assets management, short-term and long-term financing.

 

FINN2300        Principles of Financial Management 2

Corporate financial management and its complications, risk and return tradeoff, assets valuation, stocks and bonds capital structure, cost of capital, operating and capital Leasing.

Prerequisites: FINN1300, ACCT230

 

FINN232          Real Estate Financing

Financial principles related to real estate, financing direct property ownership versus income producing property, financing real estate development , secondary mortgage markets, taxes and real estate financing.

Prerequisite: FINN2300

 

FINN233          Principles of Insurance

Identifying and managing risks, insurance companies, insurance operations and occupations, types of insurance, insurance contracts and policies, property and liability insurance, automobile insurance, fire insurance, life insurance, health and disability insurance, commercial property insurance, reinsurance and financial statement analysis for insurance companies.

Prerequisite: FINN2300

 

FINN234          Financial and Banking Legislations

Local financial and banking laws and policies, commercial papers: checks and promissory notes, insurance legislations, securities law, central bank laws, banking law, public debt law, foreign currency control act, money changer licensing and supervision law, law on the encouragement of investment and other financial and banking laws.

Prerequisite: FINN2300

 

FINN3300        Corporate Finance

Maximizing the Value of the firm through Investment, Financing, and Dividend decisions, risk and return tradeoff, assets valuation, investment opportunities, capital budgeting process, capital structure, cost of capital, dividend policy.

Prerequisite: FINN2300

 

FINN3301        Islamic Financial Management

The Islamic economic system, ownership and property management in Islam, public budget, Islamic institutions, investments and savings in Islam.

Prerequisite: FINN3300

 

FINN3302        Financial Modeling

Simple and multiple linear regression models, regression models diagnostics, time series models, volatility models, discrete choice models, and panel data models.

Prerequisite: MATH2351, STAT2361, FINN3300

 

FINN331          Corporate Financial Analysis

Interpreting  and analyzing corporate financial statements to make investment, credit and management decisions, analytical tools used to assess and forecast a firm’s financial performance, financial analysis and interested parties.

Prerequisite: FINN2300

 

FINN333          Management of Commercial Banks

The role of Commercial banks in the economy, organizational structure of commercial banks,  commercial banks’ balance sheet and income statement, assets, liabilities and working capital management, deposits and loans , pricing and developing commercial banks’ services, mergers of commercial banks.

Prerequisite: FINN2300

 

FINN335          Marketing of Financial and Banking Services

Identifying the difference between marketing a product and marketing a service, the history of marketing of banking services and marketing strategies, market research, product/service strategies, pricing strategies, distribution channels strategies, promotion strategies, case studies.

Prerequisites: FINN2300,MKET130.

 

FINN336          Credit Analysis

The definition of credit analysis, cash flow analysis, financial ratios, evaluation of management and the industry, credit terms and conditions, case studies.

Prerequisite: FINN333

 

FINN337          Management of Short-term Financing

The role of  working capital, inventory management, account receivables and account payables management, liquidity analysis, cash management, cash projections and money market, short term investments, strategic financial management, and international cash flow management.

Prerequisite: FINN3300

 

FINN338          Personal Financing

The importance of personal financing, personal financial planning, spending and investing decisions, personal savings.

Prerequisite:FINN2300

 

FINN3392        Financial Markets and Institutions

Types of financial institutions, the financial intermediation process, money markets, capital markets, financial securities traded in various markets, organized stock and over the counter markets, capital market indices, the influential role of both government and private sector on financial markets, the determinants and the structures of interest rates, valuation of different financial instruments; bonds, equity securities and financial derivatives.

Prerequisite: FINN2300

 

FINN430          Financial Strategy

Economic and legal factors affecting financial planning such as monopoly policies and anti-monopoly policies, organizational and behavioral factors affecting decision making, the role of information systems and accounting policies, the risky decisions and its effect on investment valuation, case studies.

 Prerequisite:FINN3392

 

 FINN4302       Behavioral Finance

The scope of behavioral finance, financial decision-making, rational vs irrational decisions, psychological biases and their impact on financial decisions, perception of risk, and risk mitigation.

Prerequisite: STAT2361, FINN3300

 

FINN431          Investment Management

Presenting financial markets and instruments, trading in equity and debt securities, portfolio management, introducing investment theories, fundamental concepts of expected return, risk, risk aversion and diversification, techniques for evaluating investments.

Prerequisites: FINN3300

 

FINN432          International Financial Management

International Monetary System, international financial markets, international financial trade, international lending  and country risk analysis, international banking, financial management of  international firms, cash management of multinational firms.

 Prerequisites: FINN3392

 

FINN434          Derivatives and Future Markets

Option and derivative markets , history and structure of option and derivative markets, usage of future and option contracts in speculation and hedging by local and multinational companies ,analyzing the  factors that affect the prices of future and option contracts.

 Prerequisites: FINN3300

 

FINN4340        Mergers and Acquisitions

Corporate policies and strategies regarding mergers and acquisitions, valuation, structuring, financing and negotiating merger and acquisition transactions, evaluating and pricing acquisitions, post-merger restructuring and divestitures.

Prerequisite: FINN3300

 

FINN436          Portfolio Management

Analyzing different investment risks risk and return, objectives and barriers to investment, investment portfolio policies, asset allocation control and valuation of portfolios, essential management and technical skills needed for portfolio managers.

 Prerequisite: FINN431

 

FINN437          Special Topics in Finance, Banking and Insurance

Studying of special topics in finance and banking, chosen based on the faculty’s interests and the students’ needs.

 Prerequisites: FINN3392

 

FINN438          Seminar in Finance and Banking

Writing in-depth  a research about  concepts and practices in financial management, reviewing a sufficient number of studies related to the chosen topic, reading and analyzing published researches in accredited journals, discussing  the meaning and consequences of plagiarism, presenting and discussing the research results with classmates and the instructor, modifying the research according to given notes.

Prerequisites: ECON235, finished 90 hours, Department Approval

                       

FINN4391        Practical Training in Finance and Banking

Practical training of 200 actual hours in one of the Palestinian companies or organizations, under academic supervision, in the field of Finance and Banking. This course provides an opportunity for students to gain practical experience and analytical skills, which are directly related to the field of specialization, as well as to enhance their personal capabilities and develop their communication skills, time management, leadership and teamwork enabling their smooth transition to the labor market.

The students must join the training for at least two days a week during the regular semester and on full time basis during the summer semester.

Prerequisite: finished 80 hours