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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Careers

  • Steven Mendel, Charotte Halkett & Abu Addac Routes to the topIn the third instalment of our Routes to the Top series, more senior executives speak with Bradley Shearer about the paths their careers have taken, and offer advice on how to progress in our own professional lives. 06 September 2018
  • IFRS ©iStock IFRS 17: sharing the loadTrevor Howes discusses why International Financial Reporting Standard 17 is a joint actuarial and accounting responsibility from start to finish. 06 September 2018
  • iStock-875363878 Get comfortable with sellingIn a competitive industry, actuaries need to know how to sell themselves. John Scarrott advises reframing your anxieties around the issue. 06 September 2018
  • 1200px-Bank_of_England.svg A career at the Bank of EnglandRuth Hendon and Vanessa Leung provide insight into opportunities for actuaries within the Bank of England, and what it is like to work in the 300-year-old institution. 06 September 2018
  • Louise-Pryor Louise Pryor: an evolving professionLouise Pryor speaks with Stephen Hyams about climate risk, models and the future direction of the actuarial role. 06 September 2018
  • ©iStock A profession fit for the futureCharles Cowling describes how the actuarial profession is moving forward, with recent initiatives at the IFoA helping to ensure it maintains its relevance and sustainability. 06 September 2018
  • ©iStock Drop the pressure for employeesJames Bennett looks at stress in actuarial work, and suggests ways that managers can nurture a low-stress environment among employees. 09 August 2018
  • August Headshots Routes to the topIn this second instalment of our 'routes to the top' series, Bradley Shearer speaks to more senior executives about their career paths, giving further practical professional advice to us all. 09 August 2018
  • Jules-Constantinou_DSF8975-©Peter-Searle.jpg Jules Constantinou - A true pioneerThe new IFoA president Jules Constantinou discusses the opportunities, threats and potential areas of development for the actuarial profession with Francisco Sebastian 12 July 2018
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What does an actuary do?

Actuaries apply financial and statistical theories to solve real business problems. In effect, they use their skills in maths and statistics to create theoretical models of the world around them.

A typical business problem might involve analysing future financial events, especially when the amount or timing of a payment is uncertain. But it could also involve understanding something like the weather: assessing when and where devastating storms may hit can help predict risks, and their associated costs, for investments or insurance. So a lot of the work an actuary does might be thought of as risk management.

The skills you need
Understanding how businesses operate, and how legislation may affect them, is vital. But what really sets actuaries apart is their natural mathematical, economic and statistical awareness, and their ability to apply this to real situations in the financial world. The ability to communicate these difficult topics to non-specialists is also very important.

Main industry sectors
Actuaries' skills are in great demand throughout the financial sector, particularly in investment, insurance and pensions. Actuaries are also increasingly employed in risk management for large companies. However, actuarial consultancies are probably the biggest employers of actuaries in the UK.

Consultancies - offering advice on issues such as acquisitions, mergers and financing capital projects, and also on occupational pension schemes. 

Investment - involved in research and on the pricing and management of investments, particularly in mitigating risk, and often using their understanding of insurance or pension liabilities to manage the corresponding assets.

Insurance - providing a service to companies that need a huge range of numerical information investigated, analysed and explained; for example to create and price polices, or to ensure they have the money to cover claims.

Pensions - designing and advising on company pension schemes, especially placing a value on accumulated pension commitments.