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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries


  • Cover-Hour-Glass_02 Diffusing the demographic time bombDr Chris Ball looks at how an ageing population can be supported to work longer to encourage the benefits of extending employment lives Thursday, November 3, 2016
  • p24-Systems-Thinking--Tree-headshaped-jigsaw-root-illustration--Istock--505649964 Systems thinking at Staple InnNico Aspinall introduces 'systems thinking' and explains why it is important to increase its use in actuarial work Thursday, November 3, 2016
  • p14-16-In-conversation-Watercolour-abstract Driving diversityHelen Crofts and Chika Aghadiuno, the outgoing and incoming chairs of the IFoA's Diversity Advisory Group (DAG) talk to Richard Purcell and Memoria Lewis about how they hope to drive greater diversity in the profession, and discuss some of the challenges and achievements to date Thursday, October 6, 2016
  • Women on board Mutual and cooperative insurance boards lead on gender diversityThe percentage of women on the board of directors of mutual and cooperative insurers rose to 20.6% in 2015, compared to an insurance industry average of just 17.8%, according to the latest research published by the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation. Friday, September 23, 2016
  • A vacancy sign © Shutterstock Demand for actuaries sees biggest growth in insurance sectorThe number of jobs for actuaries has experienced the biggest increase in the insurance sector in the past 12 months, according to a report produced by HFG and Vacancysoft. Tuesday, August 23, 2016
  • Pamela Robertson, 500th UK actuary to have CERA © Pamela Robertson UK has 500th Chartered Enterprise Risk ActuaryPamela Robertson has become the 500th person to earn Chartered Enterprise Risk Actuary (CERA) status in the UK. Friday, July 15, 2016
  • London skyliine © Shutterstock Insurers included in Women in Finance CharterAviva, LV= and Lloyd's of London are just some of the 72 organisations who have signed up to the Women in Finance Charter, pledging for gender balance across the financial services. Tuesday, July 12, 2016
  • Winnie Badiah Q&A: Winnie Badiah (Kenya)Thursday, July 7, 2016
  • Edwin Afitile Q&A: Edwin Puso Afitile (Botswana)Thursday, July 7, 2016
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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.