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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries


  • p25_opinion_credit_Elisabeth_Moch Out of the echo chamberChika Aghadiuno on the importance of allowing our views to be challenged 07 March 2019
  • Daisy Coke Guiding starSpeaking to Chika Aghadiuno, Daisy Coke reflects on a life at the vanguard of the Jamaican actuarial profession 07 March 2019
  • A seat at the table @ iStock A seat at the tablePauline Gordon, Monica Ho, Lesley-Ann Morgan, Reena Thakkar and Theny Thiagarajan discuss why so few women work in senior finance roles and how this might be addressed 07 March 2019
  • New standards for professional trustees ¬©Shutterstock New standards published for professional pension trusteesAll professional pension trustees in the UK will be expected to abide by a new set of standards to demonstrate that they have a higher level of expertise than other trustees. 26 February 2019
  • p6-11_cyber_data_HIRES_iStock-637751036 Cyber risk tips and #CodingforGirlsThe IFoA's GI Asia International working party gave a presentation on cyber risk to more than 80 attendees in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Cyber risk is truly global and companies around the world are struggling to quantify the impact of cyber-security breaches. 07 February 2019
  • p6-11_Paul-Sweeting-GAS-presentation-04-12 Wide-ranging discussions at Dubai GAS eventThe IFoA joined more than 50 participants at the most recent meeting of the Gulf Actuarial Society (GAS), held in Dubai at the Dusit Thani Hotel on 4 December 2018. The meeting was sponsored by Milliman and SHMA Consulting. 07 February 2019
  • CPD requirements for senior rolesAre you an IFoA member working in a senior management, non-executive director or trustee role? 07 February 2019
  • Sir Michael Atiyah Obituary: Sir Michael AtiyahSir Michael Atiyah, the mathematician, former President of the Royal Society and Honorary Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, died in January at the age of 89. 07 February 2019
  • Be prepared for CPD monitoringIf selected, you will be asked to provide written evidence of your participation in the CPD activities that you have recorded to meet your minimum requirements. 07 February 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.