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

  • Sarah Winkless MBE © Peter Searle Sticky floors & glass ceilingsSarah Winckless talks with Stephen Hyams about Project AMP, the newly launched mentoring programme for aspiring female actuaries which helps to support their career paths 08 February 2018
  • Charles Cowling & Marjorie Ngwenya A proposal for the futureCharles Cowling, chair of the Qualification Task and Finish Group, explains the Chartered Actuary proposal, and Marjorie Ngwenya, president of the IFoA, answers your frequently asked questions 08 February 2018
  • Hitting-the-target-iStock-685774920 Communication: how to hit the targetSamir Parikh explains the strategic thinking behind an effective business presentation 07 December 2017
  • Old-wooden-abacus-iStock-645092600 IFRS17: Changing standardsGarry Smith and Richard Purcell investigate what the new accounting standard, IFRS 17, means for the insurance industry 07 December 2017
  • Ann Pettifor Prophet and lossAnn Pettifor, a leading analyst and media commentator on the global financial markets, talks to David Boland about the nature of money and the money in nature 07 December 2017
  • Eu-Jean-640 Presentation skills: A practical realityJean Eu gives advice on how to present well, get your message across and ensure your audience engages with it and remembers you 09 November 2017
  • Two-Businessmen-talking-iStock-691269708 How to disagree constructivelyYou can become skilful in stating your opposition without being disagreeable, says Ally Yates 09 November 2017
  • Lightbulbs-on-Head-iStock-487357805 Challenging the way we thinkAnthony Fitzsimmons and Derek Atkins ask whether there is an opportunity for actuaries to address hard-to-quantify risks 09 November 2017
  • the Big Q How big is the gender pay gap in our profession and how do we eliminate it?How big is the gender pay gap in our profession and how do we eliminate it? 09 November 2017
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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.