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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Vital Statistics

As student editor, I can actually deem entering daft questions about actuaries into Google as research (my latest foray led me to http://jokes.praxisiimath.com/ where, amazingly, there are 184 actuarial jokes — and counting. My personal favourite is number 4).

But sometimes interesting stuff can be found much closer to home, such as on the Profession’s website. The 2009/2010 Joint Councils’ Annual Report is one such example. (1)

Lately, I have been interested in how the profile of actuaries, and in particular students, has changed over time. The Annual Report details the current position. There are 9,948 students as of 1 March 2010. The age distribution is interesting: 39 students are aged between 56 and 60; 156 are younger than 21 (presumably pretty precocious students). How long before this latter group is joined by Zohaib and Wajih Ahmed, Actuaries of the Future in June 2009?

Students from outside the UK outnumber the UK contingent now. Fellows are still mostly based in the UK — 7,188 out of 10,036 (72%), which hasn’t changed much since 2002 (2). But the current crop of overseas students will soon bring that percentage down. Let’s see some more submissions for this page from overseas students, please! Women are increasing their numbers in the actuarial ranks. In 2003, there were around 3,000 females belonging to the Institute, and around 10,100 males (3).

This represented a female percentage of around 23%. In true actuarial style, I adopt the assumption that this population is distributed identically to the Faculty in that year (admittedly, a questionable assumption). This year’s combined Institute and Faculty percentage is 28%, so these snapshots show an increase. At the student level, 36% of students are female — so we can expect the female presence among fellows to increase.

This is all good news. And if these numbers don’t seem quite actuarial enough for you, you can always look over the FRS17 numbers for the pension scheme: far more interesting than the accounts, of course...


1. www.actuaries.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/168910/AP_JC_AnnualReport_2009-2010_rpt.pdf

2. From Laurie Dennett’s Mind Over Data: An Actuarial History (2004), page 200

3. ibid,p197


Keys to success

The Microsoft Excel spreadsheet application is probably the most widely-used software among actuaries (and probably even more so among us students). Use of its shortcut keys increases your efficiency and contributes to the success of your work. Test your knowledge of Excel’s shortcut keys below to see how well you rate!

Which Excel shortcut keys perform the following functions?
1. Undo last command or action.
2. Repeat last command or action.
3. Calculate all worksheets in all open workbooks.
4. Close Excel.
5. Apply or remove bold formatting.
6. Display ‘find and replace’ dialogue box.
7. Toggle between displaying cell values and formulas.
8. Display ‘format cells’ dialogue box.
9. Navigate to next worksheet.
10. Create new worksheet.
11. Open VBA editor.
12. Close active workbook.
13. Perform right-click on mouse.
14. Calculate all worksheets in all open workbooks, regardless of whether they have changed since the last calculation.
15. Re-check dependent formulas and then calculate all cells in all open workbooks, including cells not marked as needing to be calculated.




1. CTRL + Z
2. CTRL + Y
3. F9
4. ALT + F4
5. CTRL + B
6. CTRL + H
7. CTRL + `
8. CTRL + 1
10. SHIFT + F11
11. ALT + F11
12. CTRL + F4
13. SHIFT + F10
14. CTRL + ALT + F9
15. CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + F9


Justin Chan is an actuarial assistant for Hannover Life Re (UK)