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The roles and responsibilities of actuarial work are diverse and challenging, but this can be a hugely rewarding career path. By learning more about the practical day-to-day realities of working as an actuary, you will be better prepared to take the first steps in your own actuarial career.
The actuarial profession is a cornerstone of the financial services industry, yet for many who are just getting started with their actuarial career, they may not understand exactly what they can expect to be called upon to do when working as an actuary.
This is partly because the responsibilities of an actuary can be extremely varied, in terms of the range of tasks they will be asked to handle on a daily basis, but also in terms of the different ways of working that exist across the various actuarial specialisms.
In this blog post, we will share our actuarial recruitment expertise to shed light on what the role of an actuary looks like in day-to-day terms, and examine the different types of actuarial roles to help identify the key skills that will help you to succeed in this field.
In the simplest terms, actuaries are business professionals who are responsible for dealing with the financial impact of risk and uncertainty. Using their knowledge of mathematics, statistics and financial theory, actuaries are relied upon to analyse complex data to evaluate the likelihood of certain events - such as natural disasters, accidents or mortality - that might affect a financial plan. They are also responsible for designing and pricing insurance policies, pension plans and other financial strategies to ensure that these are financially sound and fully compliant with the relevant regulations.
As such, actuaries are often considered the backbone of financial security in the insurance and pension industries. They use their unique skill set to quantify and manage risk, ensuring that companies can meet their financial obligations and individuals can plan for their future with confidence.
Actuaries also work in a variety of other fields, including health insurance, property and casualty insurance, enterprise risk management, and financial planning.
In addition to their technical skills, actuaries are also called upon to demonstrate the highest standards of professional integrity. They are bound by a strict code of conduct in all of their dealings, reflecting the fact that actuaries often have access to sensitive personal data, meaning their work can have a significant impact on the lives and financial wellbeing of individuals, as well as organisations.
With these requirements in mind, the core responsibilities of actuarial work can be described as follows:
The actuarial field is diverse, with several distinct roles each carrying unique responsibilities. As such, the type of work an actuary does can vary significantly depending on their specific role and the type of organisation they work for. Some of the most common types of actuarial role include:
Most actuaries will choose their particular specialism depending on their personal skill sets, allowing them to look for roles that will play to their strengths, interests and career ambitions.
Although their choice of specialism will have an impact on how actuaries work on a daily basis, there are also various key responsibilities and everyday tasks that most actuaries will be familiar with, no matter what sector they work in.
For an entry-level Actuary or Actuarial Analyst, the day will typically start by checking emails and catching up on any industry news. They need to stay informed about the latest developments in the financial and insurance sectors, as these can impact their work.
The bulk of their day will then be spent analysing data and building statistical models, using software like Excel or specialised actuarial software, such as Prophet or Emblem. They might be tasked with analysing risk factors for insurance policies, calculating potential pay-outs for pension plans, or forecasting financial trends.
Throughout the day, these entry-level Actuaries will also be asked to work closely with more experienced colleagues, who provide guidance and support. They may attend meetings with other departments to discuss ongoing projects or potential risks. Towards the end of the day, they might prepare reports summarising their findings and recommendations.
For a more experienced Actuarial Manager, their role within the organisation is likely to be more strategic, with a focus on regular meetings with other managers to discuss organisational decisions, or with clients to present findings and recommendations.
While they still need to have a strong understanding of data analysis and statistical modelling, they often delegate these tasks to their team, who will summarise their findings and bring the managers up to speed ahead of relevant meetings. As such, those in managerial positions spend more time reviewing the work of their team, ensuring the accuracy of calculations and the validity of models. They may also be involved in higher-level tasks such as planning, budgeting and decision-making.
Actuarial Managers also play a key role in communication within the organisation. They need to be able to explain complex actuarial concepts to non-specialists, such as senior management or clients. This requires strong communication and presentation skills.
As such, as you progress through your actuarial career, you should expect the scope and focus of your role to evolve over time, which in turn will change how your day-to-day responsibilities are structured. Learning to manage this transition as part of a healthy work-life balance will be a key aspect of your career development.
Actuaries require a unique blend of skills and qualifications to excel in their roles:
Business and industry knowledge:
The range of skills required for actuarial roles reflects the fact that this is a rewarding but challenging career path - one that plays a crucial role in the worlds of business, insurance, finance and investment banking, among many other sectors. Those that work in the industry will need to take a structured but flexible approach to their day-to-day planning, in order to ensure they are meeting all of the expectations placed upon them by their employers and their clients.
By getting to grips with these responsibilities, experienced actuaries will be able to enjoy all of the professional and personal fulfilment that these roles can provide.
If you are considering taking up an actuarial role for the first time, or looking to advance your existing career, the journey begins with finding the right opportunity.
This is where Sellick Partnership comes in. As specialists in actuarial recruitment, we have the expertise and connections to help you navigate the job market. Our team of dedicated Consultants specialise in connecting talented actuarial professionals with top employers across various industries. By getting in touch, you can explore how we can assist you on your actuarial journey.
You can also take a look at our actuarial recruitment services hub to find out more.