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Actuaries apply financial and statistical theories to solve real business problems. In effect, they use their skills in maths, economics and statistics to create theoretical models of the world around them. They work out the degree of risk on life assurance policies, pensions and employee benefits and investments. Every area of business is subject to risks so an actuarial career offers many options. 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.

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. There are many areas where actuaries work, including;

  • 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 the risk of investments, and often using their understanding of insurance or pension liabilities to manage the corresponding assets.
  • Insurance: providing a service to companies which 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.

Degree subjects required

Actuarial science, mathematics, statistics, economics, operational research - mathematics based degrees, otherwise must have a very good grade at Maths A level. Need to show good communication and interpersonal skills as well as numeracy. Postgraduate qualification in Actuarial Science at Kent, Heriot Watt or City Universities may be helpful for those who have not studied Maths or Actuarial Science at first-degree level and give exemptions from professional exams.





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