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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries


  • Rosaline Chow Koo ©David Mahoney Interview: Rosaline Chow KooRosaline Chow Koo is the founder and CEO of fintech start-up CXA Group, which recently won InsurTech of the Year at the Asia Insurance Industry Awards. Sharad Bajla and Francisco Sebastian spoke with her about her journey. 06 December 2018
  • Letters: film editsThe Secret Actuary's exposé of actuaries in films in the November edition of The Actuary missed a few tricks. 06 December 2018
  • The actuary as data scientistThis one-day event exploring data science for actuaries took place at Staple Inn Hall on 5 November. 06 December 2018
  • Council update: strategising for the futureCouncil's second meeting of the 2018-19 sessional year took place in London on 19 October. 06 December 2018
  • Members survey: have your sayYou should have received an email inviting you to take part in our 2018 Members Survey. 06 December 2018
  • IFoA social care policy briefing seriesDuring the past couple of decades, successive governments have made numerous attempts to reform the UK's social care system, but funding remains under extreme and constant pressure. 06 December 2018
  • IFoA Risk Alert on GMP equalisationThe IFoA has issued a Risk Alert following the recent decision of the English High Court in a case brought by Lloyds Banking Group Pensions Trustees Limited. 06 December 2018
  • Have you paid your subscription fee?If you have not already renewed your IFoA membership for 2018-2019, you can still renew your membership by paying your subscription fee before 31 December. 06 December 2018
  • Jules-Constantinou_DSF9042.jpg President interview: stepping into 
a bright futureIFoA president Jules Constantinou talks to Gareth Groarke about his campaign to boost the visibility of the actuarial profession, 'Stepping out of the shadows', and how he sees it progressing during the next few years. 27 November 2018
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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.