[Skip to content]

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

The future's bright… because it's abroad

Desperately seeking sunshine or distant shores? Maybe it’s time to dust off your passport and sample life as a global actuary, writes Jessica Elkin


Palm Tree

Actuaries are nothing if not hedonists, I’m sure. We live for the moment, footloose and fancy-free. However, as bright young things with bright long futures, we will undoubtedly at some point adjust our focus beyond the here and now, and think about what lies beyond the end of an examination script and the point of an examiner’s red pen.

One of the upsides of working with numbers is that they are essentially the same in every country – ‘two plus two equals five’, et cetera – and actuarial work is available globally, as you may notice reading through this international issue. So why not consider working away from the motherland?

Global actuarial citizen

I met qualified actuary Melanie at a careers fair in Dorset, but her cheerful Aussie tones suggested she was not a local. Turns out, she is not only Australian but a wanderer of the world; a denizen of international climes. After leaving Oz, she worked in Hong Kong and the US before settling in sunny England. She gave me plenty of food for thought on worldwide actuarial mobility.

A common query from foreign actuarial students or qualified actuaries is whether they will be able to bring their qualifications and/or exemptions to the UK and work as actuaries over here. Melanie did not need to take new exams to be able to practise in these different countries; she qualified with the Australian Institute and was able to transfer the credits to the UK. This was some time ago, but it seems the principle still stands.

These days, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) has ‘mutual recognition agreements’ with actuarial societies in South Africa, Japan, Australia, Canada, India and the US, essentially meaning ‘come on in and enjoy the party, so long as these bodies say you’re a good’un’. Likewise, Brits can transfer their achievements abroad under the same agreements. To find out more, simply look on the IFoA’s website – there is a paper for each actuarial association. They’re not obviously located, but there is a search box on the home page which can be put to good use. Otherwise, ‘How to register as a student’ is a good start.

What about beginners?

If someone from more exotic climes wishes to study in the UK, that is a possibility too. The tricky part is obtaining a visa, which will need to be applied for by a UK employer, so you’d need to get a company interested in hiring you in advance. Fortuitously, however, the IFoA has appointed education advisers overseas, whose role is to advise students and potential students on matters related to the profession (particularly with regard to education, tuition and examination activities). The IFoA also offers a reduced rate for education services to help out students working or studying in certain countries.

It’s a long list but, again, is available on the IFoA’s website.

Helpfully, there are also various newsletters published online so that you get a feel for the work being done to help build the membership community. These are sent to members in different parts of the world to ensure that everyone can keep up to date with the activities of their favourite profession. Aspiring actuaries from these parts of the world are encouraged to write to the international newsletters team with any ideas or suggestions.

Gangster’s paradise

Of course, you may not always need to transfer to a new qualification. A UK Fellow of the IFoA is a prestigious position and may take you to foreign lands without having to jump through hoops. If you would like to try your hand as an ex-pat, visit www.theactuaryjobs.com for actuary jobs both in the UK and overseas. It’s the ideal place to start, surely!

Me? I quite fancy the Caribbean – possibly owing to a vision of lounging in a hammock with a cocktail in one hand and a calculator in the other. And palm trees, of course. Don’t forget the palm trees