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Actuarial Profession

What is an actuary?

Actuaries apply financial and statistical theories to solve real business problems. These business problems typically involve analysing future financial events, especially when the amount of a future payment, or the timing of when it is paid, is uncertain. A lot of actuaries’ work might be thought of as ‘risk management’, assessing how likely an event may be and the costs associated with it.

The traditional areas in which actuaries operate are: consultancy, life and general insurance, pensions, and investment. Actuaries are also increasingly moving into other fields, where their analytical skills can be employed.


Actuaries in consultancy firms provide expert advice and solutions to a diverse range of clients.

Life Insurance

Actuaries in the life insurance sector focus on assessing and managing risks related to life and mortality.

General Insurance

Actuaries in general insurance (non-life insurance) concentrate on analyzing and managing risks.


Actuaries play a crucial role in the pension industry by designing and managing pension plans.

Actuarial consultancies

Consultancies offer a range of services to their clients on issues such as acquisitions, mergers, corporate recovery and financing capital projects. Many also offer advice to employers and trustees who run occupational pension schemes.

Corporate Recovery

They work to ensure that pension obligations are managed effectively in the context of corporate recovery.

Projects Financing

Actuarial consultants provide expertise in financing capital projects by evaluating the financial risks and returns.

Risk Management

This involves analyzing both financial and non-financial risks, such as market longevity risk, and operational risks.

Financial Modeling

Actuarial consultants develop sophisticated financial models to assist clients in making informed decisions.

Actuaries in insurance

The work carried out by actuaries in insurance includes designing new insurance policies, setting premium rates, calculating a company’s financial status and answering technical queries from policyholders.

Life Insurance

Focus on assessing risks and determining premiums for life insurance products.

Health Insurance

Evaluate medical claims data, utilization patterns, and healthcare costs.

Reinsurance Actuaries

Work for reinsurance companies that provide coverage to primary insurers.

Product Development

Assess the financial viability of new products and set appropriate pricing.

Actuaries in pensions

In the pensions field, actuaries are usually involved in designing and advising company pension schemes, especially where a value needs to be placed on a scheme’s accumulated pension promises. This could be for a formal valuation of a whole scheme, which is legally required every three years or for an individual’s benefits.

Defined Benefit (DB)

Work with pension plans that promise a specified benefit at retirement.

Defined Contribution (DC)

Help individuals make informed decisions about investment options within the plan.

Retirement Income

Specialize in designing and managing retirement income solutions for individuals.

Pension Communication

Focus on communicating complex pension-related information to plan participants.


In the area of investment, actuaries are involved in a range of work such as pricing financial derivatives, working in fund management or working in quantative investment research.

Adapted from an article in ‘Inside careers 2004-2005’ by Charles Young