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

  • 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 Thursday, December 7, 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 Thursday, December 7, 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 Thursday, November 9, 2017
  • Two-Businessmen-talking-iStock-691269708 How to disagree constructivelyYou can become skilful in stating your opposition without being disagreeable, says Ally Yates Thursday, November 9, 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 Thursday, November 9, 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? Thursday, November 9, 2017
  • Credit: Shutterstock Microinsurance on a macro scaleWhy isn't microinsurance fulfilling its potential? Scott Swanay, April Li, Keith Lau and Tom Johansmeyer look at some of the challenges involved and how they can be overcome Thursday, September 7, 2017
  • Supervised space for innovation testing Supervised space for innovation testingChristopher Woolard lifts the lid on the Financial Conduct Authority's regulatory sandbox, which allows firms to try out their innovative products and services in a live environment Thursday, September 7, 2017
  • Take charge of your destiny Take charge of your own destinyYanum Venkatrathnam, chair of a panel discussion on career ownership at the IFoA Asia Conference, recalls how panelists John Chen, Mark Saunders and KaMan Wong all agreed that taking the initiative pays off Thursday, September 7, 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.