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What is an actuary?

If you really love maths and want a rewarding career where you can really make a difference, the actuarial profession is for you!

Here we help you understand what an actuary is, what they do, where they work and why you should consider becoming an actuary.

What is an actuary?

Actuaries are problem solvers and strategic thinkers, who use their mathematical skills to help measure the probability and risk of future events. They use these skills to predict the financial impact of these events on a business and their clients.

Business and government increasingly depend on the skills of actuaries and analysts to help them model and plan for the future. As the world changes at an increasingly rapid pace, risk management expertise can help businesses navigate this evolving landscape. Discover your strengths and find out if you could become an actuary in our online personality quiz.

What is an Actuary? Watch our members explain!

What does an actuary do?

Actuaries possess a unique mix of mathematical, analytical, communication and management skills. They apply their abilities to create social impact, inform high-level strategic decisions and have a significant impact on legislation, businesses and peoples' lives.  

Actuaries are creative, curious and adaptable and it’s this learning mindset that helps them succeed in the digital age. Actuaries’ unique combination of technical skills and professional acumen ensure they will continue to make a difference, guarding against the impacts of future uncertainty.

Find out more about where the actuarial profession can take you in our blog What actuaries actually do.

John Townhill, Actuarial Consultant at Barnett Waddingham, discusses some misinterpretations of becoming an actuary.

 

I enjoy my job, in fact, I love my job! I first heard about the actuarial profession from my A level Mathematics teacher. He described it as “… the perfect career for maths lovers!

Prudence Maseko

 

Where do actuaries work? 

Although actuaries are often associated with traditional fields such as life, pensions and insurance, there are an increasing number of actuaries moving into a hold range of new areas. Health, banking and finance, technology and climate change are just some of the areas where you can now find actuaries. 

The rise of artificial intelligence and data science are challenging actuaries to think differently and are creating new opportunities that previously never existed. Whether you work in in-house within an organisation or in a consultancy firm supporting different clients, you will enjoy a financially rewarding career where can grow, develop and be challenged.

Take a look at our Employer Directory to discover more about where actuaries work.

Chloe Hung, Amazon best-selling author, talks about some of the traditional and new industries you could work in as an actuary.

What does the future hold for actuaries?

Why should you become an actuary?

Being an actuary means having the opportunity to apply highly valued mathematical skills and expertise in a diverse, exciting and challenging career that really makes a difference. Your hard work is rewarded with a highly competitive salary and a good work/life balance in comparison to similarly paid professions in the financial services, such as investment banking.

Find out how the actuarial profession compares to other career paths

As a member of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) you will be part of a globally recognised profession. Our qualifications are internationally-recognised and will enable you to work in many countries around the world. The IFoA also has Mutual Recognition Agreements with overseas actuarial professional bodies, so once you  have qualified, it is often easy to transfer to another professional body. 

Find out how you can become an actuary.

Get the latest news

Stay up-to-date with the latest news, activities and events to support you in your first steps in your actuarial career

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Events calendar

  • Spaces available

    The webinar will discuss the challenges and opportunities schemes face in evaluating end game options, choosing a target state and understanding the impact this strategic decision could have on member outcomes long after the “end state” is reached. Adolfo, Kevin and Rhian bring over 60 years of experience in the industry and a variety of perspectives as scheme actuary, covenant adviser, trustee, de-risking adviser and insurer.

  • Spaces available

    Retail banking is going through a period of substantial change as it moves into the digital age. Banks have large amounts of data about their customers and about their risks. Open data application programming interface (APIs) and data science are enabling banks to use their data to offer innovative and sometimes personalised services. Data science is also adding value in risk areas such as fraud detection and cyber security. At the same time, the move to online banking is making it easier for firms including fintechs to enter banking without having to establish branch networks.

  • UK Town Hall 08:30-09:30

    Webinar
    4 December 2020

    Spaces available

    IFoA President Tan Suee Chieh would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual UK Town Hall 2020, hosted by Tan Suee Chieh with IFoA’s Immediate Past President, John Taylor, President Elect, Louise Pryor and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann.  

  • UK Town Hall 10:00-11:00

    Webinar
    4 December 2020

    Spaces available

    IFoA President Tan Suee Chieh would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual UK Town Hall 2020, hosted by Tan Suee Chieh with IFoA’s Immediate Past President, John Taylor, President Elect, Louise Pryor and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann.  

  • Spaces available

    Cash-flow driven investing is a game-changer for DB pension funds navigating their end-game. Suitable for sponsors who want to reduce risks on their balance sheets. And for trustees, it shifts the focus to providing greater certainty of returns, managing funding level volatility and ensuring they have enough income to pay cash-flow requirements.

  • Spaces available

    Patrick Kennedy, Partner at Gateley Legal and Founding Director of Entrust (a leading professional pensions trustee company), will be delivering an update on the latest legal developments during the course of 2020. With both a pensions legal perspective and over 25 years of trustee service, Patrick will seek to highlight how the letter of the law has continued to evolve against the backdrop of a difficult and challenging year

  • Spaces available

    The talk will provide an understanding of the priorities and relationships between deficit reduction contributions, in the context of wider scheme funding, and different types of value outflow from the employer based on the working party’s recently published report. 

  • Spaces available

    Running off the £2 trillion of UK corporate sector defined benefit liabilities in an efficient and effective fashion is the biggest challenge facing the UK pensions industry. Trustees and sponsors overseeing those schemes need to be clear on their target end-state and the associated journey plan – but too few have well articulated and robust plans.

  • Spaces available

    The actuarial skill set has much to offer the banking industry. So many of the skills that actuaries acquire during their working life translate across to the world of banking and yet banking is perceived as an alien environment to many actuaries. But is it?

  • Spaces available

    Covid-19 has required an urgent and cross-practice initiative to facilitate the extensive impact this pandemic has across all industries. IFoA members have been keen to contribute in a different way, so we developed the IFoA Covid-19 Action Taskforce [ICAT] to coordinate our effort, with a more efficient governance.

    We have over 500 volunteers and countless topics which we have amalgamated into 93 workstreams.