[Skip to content]

Sign up for our daily newsletter
The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Love, actuarially

It has often struck me that the actuarial profession is a rather incestuous one, in that you often find actuaries dating or married to fellow actuaries. This leads me to wonder — how much actuarial theory carries over into the world of romance?

Imagine this… Your eyes meet over the golden edge of the formulae and tables book and you bond over the complexities of an annuity function. You both take a leaf out of the actuarial control cycle and, after specifying your purpose (to see if you find each other mutually acceptable), you develop a solution (let’s go on a date to find out). You then monitor the experience (over several dates), and over time, you fine-tune your solutions (she likes surprises, he hates coffee).

After taking into account the lifestyle and business environment (families and friends, work colleagues), you consider the advantages and disadvantages of your relationship, including all risks. Upon thorough analysis, projecting all outcomes, you find that the present value of emotional cash flows is, in fact, hugely positive, thereby prompting you to contemplate your preference for a single or joint life existence. Sound familiar? I’ve been told that approximately 10% of the entire UK Life practice at Deloitte & Touche have actuarial partners. Therefore, I’ll leave it to Ross Fleming, a manager at Deloitte in Glasgow, to tell all (before my writing gets any more nauseating)…
Jean Eu

Are two actuaries better than one?
A patient was at her doctor’s office after undergoing a complete physical examination. The doctor said, “I have some very grave news for you. You only have six months to live.” The patient asked, “Oh doctor, what should I do?” The doctor replied, “Marry an actuary.” “Will that make me live longer?” asked the patient. “No,” said the doctor, “but it will seem longer.”

Having recently married a fellow member of the actuarial profession, I am now no longer faced with the question of “so what is an actuary?”. Instead, I now find myself having to explain why two actuaries are better than one. It is commonly stated that you are most likely to meet your ideal partner when you settle into your career. I can see the logic in this argument, given that you are often surrounded by people with common interests and a like-minded approach to life. However, given that I know of at least 10 actuarial couples, I felt I owed it to the critics to see if these actuarial pairings are more down to the lack of social life that comes with sitting exams and, therefore, the lack of alternative options — or does an actuarial relationship have something else to offer?

After carrying out general research and prying into some colleagues’ personal lives, I found that the common ‘additional extras’ you find with an actuarial partner are: the benefit of a sympathetic study companion/mentor, free advice when you want to bounce around some work ideas, someone who appreciates why you work longer hours as a ‘year-end’ approaches and who knows what you are talking about when you mention longevity (even if life and pensions actuaries have different views on the subject).

There may also be less appealing consequences — it can be harder to switch off from work when you leave the office if you ask “How was your day?”, since you actually understand your partner’s response. Also, if a competitive nature exists between you and your partner, there is the added pressure of who manages to qualify first. For example, if my wife passes the ‘communications’ exam before me... well the less said about that the better!

Based on my not so extensive research, the conclusion I have reached is that all successful relationships are a blessing but when you find one that comes with ‘additional extras’ to make life that little bit easier, it really can’t be a bad thing. So, for all those people who dwell that bit longer at the coffee machine for that special someone to walk by, take the chance and ask them out — by all accounts, two actuaries are better than one.

Ross Fleming

We are still intending to put together an ultimate guide to studying – written for students by students, for publication in a future issue. So please keep your top tips coming to jenandjean@ the-actuary.org.uk