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

  • a programme of support A programme of supportThe Actuarial Mentoring Programme aims to encourage the retainment and progression of women within the profession by supporting female actuaries, as well as men who work with them 10 October 2019
  •  © Shutterstock A woman's workIt's been 100 years since the IFoA's forerunners voted to admit women to their ranks; we examine the process that led to that important decision 10 October 2019
  • Ikon Images Getting on boardSeamus Creedon explains the important role played by non-executive directors and the opportunities this creates for actuaries 08 August 2019
  • iStock Off the beaten trackThe actuarial skillset is incredibly versatile, says Bruno Bodega here's how you can leverage it to further your career trajectory 11 July 2019
  • Crest In good companyNick Salter, current Master of the Worshipful Company of Actuaries, explains what the WCA does- and why it's worth joining 11 July 2019
  • p14-16_Sir_John_Curtice_05-v1 Interview: Sir John CurticeSir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, talks with Stephen Hyams and Francisco Sebastian about surveys, election polling, Brexit and electoral reform 09 May 2019
  • Sterling money symbol IFoA Life Research Committee: Life less ordinaryRichard Schneider describes the IFoA Life Research Committee's activities, instigating member-led research and giving members a voice in the wider financial world 11 April 2019
  • p11_robot_head-IKON_00019913 Taking the lead in data scienceJohn Taylor, president-elect of the IFoA, reflects on the growth of big data and why actuaries should be at the heart of it 11 April 2019
  • Student The computer will see you nowGeorge Burton asks whether the hype around AI in healthcare is merited and if so, how could it affect the role of future actuaries? 07 March 2019
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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.