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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries


  • © Alamy The Italian jobSilvia Dell'Acqua, head of actuarial reserving at Eurovita SpA and lecturer in actuarial mathematics at Politecnico di Milano, talks to Dan Georgescu about the profession in Italy 02 May 2020
  • winning Winning with wordsJulian Maynard-Smith shares his simple tips for clear, concise writing 03 April 2020
  • © iStock CPD a new approachNeil Buckley, chair of the IFoA Regulation Board, tells us about the bold proposals for a new IFoA Continuing Professional Development Scheme 04 March 2020
  • Stephen Mann Stephen Mann: taking the reinsThe IFoA's new chief executive Stephen Mann sets out his vision for the organisation 04 March 2020
  • Craig Turnbull Interview: Craig TurnbullDan Georgescu talks to Craig Turnbull about his career so far, including lessons for the future that can be drawn from the study of actuarial history 06 February 2020
  • connect the dots FinSTIC: Connect the dotsThe Financial Systems Thinking Innovation Centre, or FinSTIC, launches this month. But what is systems thinking, and how can it help actuaries? Ashok Gupta explains 05 February 2020
  • image After the break: managing a career hiatusHow to manage a career hiatus and take advantage of the benefits it may bring for your future 05 February 2020
  • 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
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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.