A guide to

A guide to
How to qualify as an
actuary and the range
of opportunities that
are available to you as
you take the first steps
on your career path
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
to the first edition of our
guide to Becoming an
Actuary. I am very pleased
that you are interested in
understanding more about
this varied, exciting and
rewarding career.
David Hare
President, Institute and
Faculty of Actuaries
Fields of work
Our qualifications
The IFoA is the only chartered professional
body for actuaries in the UK. We put
the needs of our members at the heart
of what we do – providing high quality
internationally-recognised qualifications
and lifelong education opportunities.
Our role in regulating our members is
key to assuring public confidence in our
profession. We work hard to speak up
on relevant matters of public interest
and to raise awareness of the work that
actuaries do as part of advancing all
matters relevant to actuarial science.
I am pleased at the increasing diversity of
our 25,000 strong membership and that we
are attracting fresh new talent from all over
the globe with over 40% of our members
living or working outside of the UK.
Deciding on a career path is incredibly
exciting if not a little daunting. A career
as an actuary offers a wide range of
opportunities and challenges. It gives you
the chance to apply your skills in maths
and statistics to real world challenges.
These skills give actuaries an exceptional
appreciation of financial risk management,
one of the growing areas of business.
Actuarial work is especially suited to those
who enjoy solving problems by analysis,
mathematics and logical reasoning. Yet,
development of communication and
management skills is also incredibly
important in order for actuaries to work
in the very demanding business world,
no matter where they are based.
There is no doubt in my mind that although
it takes hard work and dedication, a
career as an actuary can be exceptionally
fulfilling and intellectually challenging.
I have found that my own career as an
actuary has been very rewarding so far
and I am glad to say that it continues
to be so! I wish you all the very best as
you look further into exploring what a
career as an actuary could hold for you.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
you will find information about the
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA),
the exam system, how to qualify as an
actuary and the range of opportunities
that can open up to you as you take
the first steps on your career path.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA)
What is the Institute and
Faculty of Actuaries?
What benefits do you get
as a member of the IFoA?
The IFoA is the UK’s only chartered
professional body dedicated to educating,
developing and regulating actuaries based
both in the UK and internationally.
• Continuing professional development
(CPD) – to maintain a high level of
professionalism, skills and knowledge
• Networking and events – a wide range of
events that support your career progress
and professionalism and give you the
chance to network with other actuaries
• Member interest groups – groups with a
shared practice or topic interests, or who
live and work in the same region
• Forums and discussion groups – groups
that tackle subjects relevant or interesting
to you or the practice area you belong to
• Extensive library resources – access
to over 10,000 books, plus periodicals
and DVDs, with a catalogue you can
access online
• Research journals – published by
the profession, such as the British
Actuarial Journal and the Annals
of Actuarial Science
What is a professional body?
A professional body is usually a not for profit
organisation seeking to further the interests
of its members and the public interest.
The IFoA works with employers of
actuaries to encourage and develop
their actuarial employees and the
financial sector as a whole.
Who employs actuaries?
Once you have decided on an actuarial
career you would look for an actuarial
graduate trainee role with an actuarial
employer. These can be found in the
Directory of Actuarial Employers
and in The Actuary magazine or
website (www.the-actuary.com).
You would apply to that employer
through their entry route and then
join our professional body either
once you’ve joined the employer, or
independently if you wanted to take
some exams prior to getting a job.
What qualifications
do you offer?
There are a number of different
membership qualifications:
• Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA)
• Associate
• Fellow
There are also different membership
categories as you make your way
to qualifying:
• Affiliate
• Student
Fields of work
Our qualifications
15 exams
3 years
For all these qualifications
there will be an element
of professional regulation
that you must adhere to
as a member of the IFoA.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
To qualify as a Fellow you must complete:
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Who makes up our membership?
We have a global membership of 25,215
members (June 2013). Our members come
from a variety of different countries, cultures
and ethnicities.
Total number
of students
There are 12,877 student members in the
IFoA currently. The figures below explore
who makes up our student membership,
from ages, gender and location.
Practice areas (employment area)
Age groups
• 4% are under the age of 21
• 73% are under the age of 30
• 94% are under the age of 40
• 37% are female
• 63% are male
• 47% are in the UK
• 53% are international
–– 8% rest of Europe
–– 45% rest of the world
17% Pensions
23% Life insurance
14% General insurance
3% Investment
1% Health and care, Enterprise Risk
Management and other emerging fields
n 42% other – IT, actuarial field,
non-actuarial, education, unknown
Fields of work
Our qualifications
Total number
of Fellows
Practice areas (employment area)
Age groups
• 31% are under the age of 25
• 12% are under the age of 30
• 34% are under the age of 40
• 23% are female
• 77% are male
• 72% are in the UK
• 28% are international
–– 8% rest of Europe
–– 20% rest of the world
27% Pensions
31% Life insurance
12% General insurance
6% Investment
2% Health and care, Enterprise Risk
Management and other emerging fields
n 12% retired
n 10% other – IT, actuarial field,
non-actuarial, education, unknown
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
There are 11,240 Fellows in the IFoA. Again,
the figures below explore who makes up our
fellowship membership, from ages, gender
and location.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
What could I expect to earn?
Actuarial salaries are notorious for being
very high.
High Fliers survey suggests that an
average graduate salary is £29,000 so
you can see from the salary table below
provided to us by XpertHR that the
actuarial starting salary as a graduate
can be much more – this is dependent
on the specific company and its location.
Here is the basic salary you might expect
to earn at different levels of responsibility.
Responsibility level
Average basic
salary (£)
Chief actuary,
senior partner
Senior function head,
practice director
Function head,
practice head
Department manager,
managing consultant
Section manager,
senior consultant
Section leader, consultant
Senior actuary,
junior consultant
Student actuary
Source: XpertHR Salary survey of actuaries and
actuarial students
For more information visit
What are
Laura Hamilton from Aon
Hewitt gives some hints and
tips about what they are
looking for from candidates
going through the interview
and assessment centre process.
There’s no doubt it is now more competitive
than ever to find a graduate job or internship
with an actuarial firm, with more and
more candidates applying for roles, and
employers’ expectations rising as well.
So, what exactly are we looking for
from our “consultants of the future”?
The first thing, which goes without saying,
is the combination of intelligence, good
numerical skills and the ability to work hard.
Some more ways to help you through an
assessment centre and any interviews
are explored on the following page.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
This is a skill that everyone knows
and shamelessly repeats at assessment
days, but what does ‘communication’
actually mean? It means being able to
quickly understand the person you are
interacting with, and adapt your style to
suit them and the situation you are in. It also
means being articulate when producing
written work, and again adapting styles
for what your clients or colleagues need.
Understanding and meeting
clients’ needs
This is fundamental to being a successful
consultant, but a difficult thing to
demonstrate before you begin working. We
want to see that you listen well, and through
effective questioning can work out what is
needed and deliver on that. You should be
good at planning and prioritising, have the
technical ability to solve the problem and
are highly focused. Not only this, but you
actively seek feedback in order to improve.
Working in teams
Another term that is used frequently is
“teamwork”. We are looking for individuals
who are comfortable in managing and
organising a team. You should also be
happy to take instruction and able to work
individually to meet a shared goal. Those
who contribute towards team meetings,
inviting views from quieter individuals and
can keep focused on the overall aims of the
meeting should perform well. Intelligent
delegation is essential, so be aware of
the skills of the team you are part of.
Business acumen
Our business values innovators – those who
can take the initiative and can suggest ideas
and alternative approaches as it shows you
actively think about what’s being done.
Those who often do best in our assessment
centres are those who see the “bigger
picture” by recognising the overall aim
of the task. These people can recognise
when ideas are not feasible and can focus
instead on what is achievable given the
constraints in the task. Common sense is
highly valuable; asking yourself questions
like “does this answer look reasonable in the
context of the question” will really help.
A positive attitude
In an interview, assessment process or
internship, we are looking for evidence
of true motivation for the role. This isn’t
something you can fake; good candidates
exude this naturally through a high level
of knowledge about the company, the
industry and role they are applying for. This
can only be achieved through research and
experience, so if you have no experience,
you should seek out those who do and talk
to them, don’t just rely on internet research.
Standing out
First impressions are very important –
assessors will consider you in the same
way that a client would, so appearance,
punctuality and attitude are very
important. You may be nervous on
interviews or assessment days, and
this is perfectly understandable. The
assessors want to see your skills, so will
work hard to challenge you, but they are
certainly not trying to catch you out.
The key to your success is being able to
demonstrate the skills described above
in your CV, application forms, interviews
and tasks. Use real life examples when
answering competency-based interview
questions, which can be based on
your experiences of work, academic
career or extra-curricular activities.
When making decisions on which
candidates to offer positions to, assessors
always ask themselves “Would I want to
work with this person, and would our clients
value them as a trusted partner? Can I
see them working in our office? Will they
contribute significantly to our business?”
The only thing left to say is GOOD LUCK!
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Advice on
and CV
Steve Leeson is the General
Manager in the UK for
Acumen Resources, a global
specialist actuarial recruiter.
Acumen Resources employs
qualified actuaries, giving
the firm a unique insight
into the job search market.
In this article we will look at a few themes
to consider and some ideas to increase
your chances. Quite literally it is a few
minutes that could change your life…
It’s a competitive world
The one thing that you can be sure of is
that there are a lot of equally well qualified
people going for the same position that
you are. If you really want the job, you
will need to differentiate yourself.
Very often clues about what a hiring
manager will want you to demonstrate,
at interviews, are in the job description.
Addressing these and identifying examples
of each competency will help you to stand
out in the meeting. If you have not prepared
examples and you get the inevitable
question it can be very embarrassing.
Making the right impression
Consider your dress code for the interview
– If you are in doubt, GO SMART. When
shaking hands, compose a firm grip
and look the interviewer in the eye.
During the conversation your posture,
the pace and tone of your voice will all
contribute to the judgements that the
interviewer makes about you. Try and
maintain a neutral position throughout
but where you are trying to convey
enthusiasm it is useful to use your hands
to interject some more positive body
language and don’t forget to smile.
Show the research that you
have done
Inevitably, you will be asked at some stage
during the interview why you want to work
for the organisation you are applying to.
This is a great chance to demonstrate
your commercial awareness. If you can
talk to someone who has worked in the
industry then this will give you honest, first
hand insight into becoming an actuary.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
By explaining the research that you’ve
done at the interview, it will give evidence
of your research skills, your interest in the
organisation and also business acumen.
Have your questions prepared
Think ahead about who you are going to
be meeting and try and find out about
them. LinkedIn has made it increasingly
easy to get some basic background
information on most interviewers and will
quite often allow you to identify things you
have in common to help build a rapport.
better to focus on these strengths than to
just talk about your strong analytical side.
To identify a weakness shows that you
are self aware but if you want to make
a real difference then discuss what you
are doing to overcome your weaknesses,
what targets you have set and how
you are doing against those targets.
Ask for feedback
During the meeting it will be interesting
and engaging to ask them about
why they joined the company, what
challenges that they have faced in the
job and how they see the role you’re
interviewing for developing in the future.
Your role in the interview is to convince
the person over the table that you are
the best person for them. One way to do
this is to ask, in your own words, how you
meet the profile of their ideal candidate.
Ideally you are trying to understand where
they think you may not have enough
experience or relevant skills and how you
would overcome these shortcomings.
Having the right answers
Tell them you’re interested
It is highly likely that you will be asked to
identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Hard as this may be, it is worth considering
three in each category, as some interviewers
like to hear about more than one.
At the end of the interview if the role is
of interest, make sure that you tell the
interviewer that you are excited about the
opportunity and how you could see yourself
developing in the position. In the same
way that you have one chance to make a
first impression, this might be the lasting
impression. Good luck and remember
whoever it is asking the questions, they
were once sat exactly where you are today.
With your strengths, make sure that they
are aligned with the role that you are
interviewing for. If the job calls for a good
communicator and client facing skills it is
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
“If you can talk to someone
in the industry, this
will give you honest,
first‑hand insight into
becoming an actuary”
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
One of the other benefits that I’ve profited
from is the student rotation policy. This has
enabled me to experience a few different
areas within the company and has helped
me to determine which areas I’m most
interested in.
What would you like to achieve
in the future?
Ian Mooney
Durham University
MMATH, Master of
Kingswood, Surrey
Solvency II Analyst
Graduating from university in 2010, I really
had no idea about what I wanted to do.
A friend suggested I become an actuary,
something that I hadn’t even heard of up
until that point! After doing a little digging,
I decided that it sounded perfect; a role
that gave me a chance to use my maths
degree and problem solving skills in a
practical and ever evolving environment.
I currently work in the Savings Solvency II
team, which is preparing the firm for the
Solvency II directive that’s due to come into
force in 2014. This is perhaps the largest
legislative change to happen to the life
insurance industry for many years and is an
area that is very exciting and rewarding.
What do you enjoy most about
your job?
I’ve found that no two days are ever the
same in this job which has helped to
maintain my enthusiasm for my work. The
landscape of the industry is constantly
changing, with a wave of new laws
having come into effect recently. This has
created some very exciting project work
that I’ve been able to get involved in.
Once qualified, this profession affords a
wealth of international opportunities. It’s
a unique opportunity that very few others
can offer and is one that I don’t intend to
pass up. One of my main aspirations is to
work in East Asia for a period of time.
Before getting too ahead of myself,
my immediate goal is to qualify. It
takes a lot of self-discipline to balance
both work and study, but I hope that
the hard work will pay off soon.
What ‘soft skills’ have you
found useful?
Although people tend to place great
emphasis on academic achievements, the
importance of your ‘soft skills’ shouldn’t
be underestimated. It’s these skills that will
typically set you apart in the workplace.
In my role, it has not been uncommon to
find myself leading small to medium sized
projects. At times, I’ve had to work as part
of a larger team to complete this task. I
would therefore highly recommend getting
as much exposure as you can to working in
a team environment and taking a leadership
role in that setting, where possible.
You will almost certainly find yourself having
to deliver and present results to your
managers and other superiors, during your
time as an analyst. Any experience that you
might have in public speaking or delivering
presentations would really stand you in
good stead here.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
Kim Durniat, a partner within
the Insurance Actuarial Practice
of Barnett Waddingham and
Holly Deakin, a recent intern,
talk to you about the value of
internships and what they have
both learned in the experience.
Summer students at Barnett
Each summer Barnett Waddingham offers
a series of eight week internships in each
of its offices. The Insurance Actuarial team
in London have found this to be a very
worthwhile initiative and offers an excellent
experience and opportunity for students.
Our team specialises in both Life and
General Insurance and our summer students
get involved with client work helping with
data, calculations, modelling and writing
reports, as well as organising staff socials.
Our summer students are also involved with
helping us to grow our clients and services
through activities relating to marketing and
researching target clients. The fresh ideas
and new skills that summer students can
bring to the team are particularly valuable.
Summer is also a perfect time to focus on
project work, keeping up to speed with
any developments in the market. Students
can expect to delve into researching
current issues in the insurance market,
including regulation and Solvency II.
Each summer student is assigned a
mentor to provide support on a dayto-day basis. We feel it is important for
students to gain an understanding of
the entire firm and arrange for students
to learn about other practice areas.
Working alongside actuarial students
and qualified actuaries is an excellent
opportunity to ask questions and gain
some valuable insight. The opportunity to
work in an office environment is excellent
preparation for working life after graduation.
Of course, students may also be enticed
by the competitive pay and opportunity
to secure a graduate role with us.
Ultimately the summer programme feeds
into our graduate recruitment activity
and allows us to get to know potential
team members over an eight week period,
as opposed to a focused assessment
day. It also provides the opportunity for
Barnett Waddingham to sell itself as an
excellent place to start your career.
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Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
What did you learn during
your internship?
I learnt to use my initiative and prioritise
multiple tasks in order to meet
deadlines for other team members.
My confidence grew as the weeks
progressed, and I became comfortable
contributing ideas to discussions
in weekly team meetings.
Holly Deakin – Barnett
Waddingham Insurance
Actuarial summer intern profile
Why did you choose Barnett
I wanted to work in the insurance sector
and was looking for experience at a firm
that had both a strong reputation and a
personal touch. Barnett Waddingham’s
Insurance Actuarial team offered the range
of experience that I was looking for, such as
integrating interns into a working team and
exposing them to a variety of client work.
What did you get up to during
your internship?
During the eight weeks I was able to get
involved in a variety of client work, such as
writing reports, carrying out calculations
and running models to test the solvency of
firms. I also assisted with various research
projects, covering topics such as the
upcoming Solvency II regulatory regime.
Interns were given the task of organising
two staff socials during our placement. The
first was a pub quiz and the second was a
dinner at a local restaurant. I also took part
in the Barnett Waddingham inter-office
football tournament which was great fun
and a chance to meet other members
of staff.
In terms of my technical ability, I was
introduced to Microsoft Access and learnt
how to create queries and run data checks
on client information. My Excel ability
also improved through practice as a lot
of the work I did involved spreadsheets.
What are you currently doing?
I am currently at the University of Bristol
studying Economics and Finance. I plan
to start work as an Actuarial Assistant
within the Insurance Actuarial Practice at
Barnett Waddingham in autumn 2013.
Do you have any tips for
students who might seek
to obtain an internship in
the future?
Always remember that the ability to
communicate ideas and integrate into
a working team is just as important
as your academic ability.
Don’t let the fear of an assessment day
put you off! Prepare thoroughly for the
interviews, and really know what aspects
of the profession appeal to you and why.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
Fields of work
Actuaries can work in a wide range of
different fields. The following pages give
you an idea of those practice areas and
also information about what you may be
involved in, as a graduate actuarial trainee.
Pension schemes are important as they
are often worth a lot more than the
company providing the scheme (i.e. the
value of the Company’s assets). There
are two main types of scheme – Defined
Benefit and Defined Contribution.
In Defined Benefit schemes the pension on
retirement is determined by a set formula,
based on an employee’s salary and service,
which is paid for life, when an employee
retires. The chief uncertainty is the cost of
this pension, paid for by contributions from
the company, which depends on factors
such as investment return, future salaries
and life expectancy in retirement. If you join
a firm of pensions actuaries you may find
yourself calculating this cost for your clients.
Defined Contribution schemes are schemes
where it is the company contributions that
are set, perhaps as a fixed percentage of
salaries, and paid into individual funds
for each employee. These funds are
used to buy the employee a pension on
retirement. The chief uncertainty here is
the benefit – how much pension the fund
can earn. If you work in this area you might
be involved in designing a scheme, where
the actuary will consider an ideal level of
pension at retirement and work backwards
to determine an appropriate contribution
rate to set, to target this pension.
There are many different areas of
work that you could be involved in from
capital models to analysing specific risks
like operational risk. You could also be
involved in investigating mathematical
models of risk to see if they can be used
within an organisation. For example using
your statistical knowledge to assess if
there is enough data.
Established risk modelling actuaries,
would either come up with directly, or
oversee, the analysis of the model inputs.
From analysing the data to see what level
of risk there is from a previous instability
or checking that those associated
with the business (stakeholders) have
understood the framework that is in
place. Communication is an important
skill to have as often those working in risk
need to explain the theory behind the
models to those who are non-actuaries.
Although risk models should in theory
capture everything, it’s important that
actuaries analyse risks that may have
materialised to check that the models
are still appropriate. It’s unlikely and
unrealistic to expect everything in
the future to be foreseen now.
Life insurance
Life insurance actuaries can work in many
roles within insurance companies, reinsurers
and actuarial consultancies. Many of these
actuaries specialise in the design and
pricing of life insurance products, which
can include protection products, annuities,
pensions and other savings products.
These roles themselves involve a range
of skills, including modelling, and the
understanding of the characteristics of the
customers in order to estimate their likely
future experience (e.g. mortality rates).
Other actuaries are principally involved
in the assessment and management
of the solvency of life insurance
companies. This includes tasks such as
understanding the expected present
value of long-term future liabilities to
which such companies are exposed, and
the amount of additional money that
needs to be held in order to ensure that
these liabilities can continue to be met.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
Practice areas
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Fields of work
Actuaries can also be involved in the
assessment of the overall value of a life
insurance company to its shareholders,
perhaps for financial reporting purposes
or as part of a merger or acquisition.
General insurance
The role of a GI actuary is incredibly
varied, and has changed considerably
over the years; given the fast-moving
dynamics of the industry, the ever-changing
regulatory environment and the continuous
development of actuarial skills, it’s a safe
bet that the role actuaries play in the
insurance industry will continue to evolve.
There are four main areas:
• Reserving: how much an insurance
company needs to set aside to pay future
claims, given how many policies it has sold
in the past.
• Pricing: how much an insurance company
should charge customers for a new
policy, given how much risk is involved
(e.g. the personal circumstances of the
policyholder, the economic environment,
social trends, the strategy of the
insurer etc.).
• Capital modelling: all insurers need to put
a certain amount of capital aside, e.g. in
case claims turn out to be worse than
expected or something else goes wrong.
Actuaries build models to help them
decide how much and what sort of capital
to hold.
• ERM/Risk: Actuaries get involved in
monitoring and quantifying all risks facing
an insurance company, and help devise
strategies for dealing with and avoiding
these risks.
Health and care
Health and care insurance issues such
as critical illness, income protection and
long-term care insurance are designed
like long-term or short-term life insurance
policies so actuarial roles are very similar
to those described in the insurance
section. But although many of the roles
and activities are the same, the inherent
risks differ. There is more emphasis on
understanding morbidity rates (i.e. rates
of becoming sick or disabled or needing
medical treatment or rates of recovering
from sickness), which is more complex
than that of mortality (i.e. death) rates.
It is also necessary to consider aspects such
as the implications of medical advances,
medical cost inflation and interactions with
State provision of health and care services.
Some health and care actuaries are more
closely involved in wider contexts, such as
national healthcare funding systems. For
example, how best can we ensure that there
will be adequate provision for long-term
care in old age under increasing national
budget pressures and an ageing population?
Actuaries have been involved in the
field of investment management for
decades. Actuaries are involved in
buying and selling assets, investment
analysis and portfolio management.
Although generally regarded as the
province of the investment banker, actuaries
can add value in this area. An actuary’s
basic skills in forecasting and assessing
risks are ideal for estimating whether a
capital project (e.g. for a new hospital
or a transport infrastructure project) is
financially viable. Employers might include
government departments, management
consultancies, or property companies.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
Exam time is inevitably stressful but
Grant Thornton offers a generous study
package so I have time to prepare
for exams and go to tutorials.
Christina Goodwin
University of Oxford
Mathematics (BA)
Actuarial Analyst at
Grant Thornton UK LLP
Why did you decide to become
an actuary?
When I left university I spent some time
writing material for a maths education
website and then working on a statistical
project in Italy. When I came back from
Italy, I decided that I ought to get a
sensible career and I remembered that,
when I was about six, I’d told people
I’d be an actuary when I grew up!
What do you enjoy most about
your job?
I enjoy the variety of the job. I feel that
I’m developing lots of different skills and
I’m stimulated and occupied at work.
I’ve been relieved at the amount of
interaction with colleagues and clients, and
the emphasis on effective communication.
I knew a role that only involved numbercrunching wouldn’t suit me as I have
quite an extrovert personality and
value the collaborative sharing of ideas
that is an essential part of the job.
There are also stressful times when
there’s a big deadline coming up and
an unanticipated problem emerges. It’s
reassuring to know that there are plenty
of people around who are pleased to step
in when there’s an issue and I’ve learnt not
to be afraid to ask for help when I need it.
Do you have any advice for
anyone wanting to get into
the industry?
I’d definitely encourage people to find
out more about becoming an actuary.
From what I’ve experienced, it can be a
very rewarding career. I also know that
the skills I’m learning and the qualification
I’m working towards will be valuable and
highly regarded in many other fields.
What was the interview
process like?
I think it’s important to see an interview
as a two-way process – as well as being
interviewed, you’re interviewing them.
My interview at Grant Thornton gave
me a clear insight into the ethos and the
work environment and I immediately felt
that this was a place where I could be
comfortable and make a useful contribution.
Any advice for the
interview process?
Smile! Be enthusiastic and passionate about
your experiences and future plans. No
one expects you to be an actuarial expert
but your attitude to work is important.
After the interview, try to remain
philosophical – you’re bound to get some
rejections, but you’ll learn something
each time from the process.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
What are the most stressful
parts of the job?
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Fields of work
fields –
Dick Rae is a Managing Director
in the Strategic Solutions Group
at HSBC. He shares with you his
experience of working in the
banking sector and what
employers will expect from
graduates wanting to move
into this emerging field.
Is there a role for actuaries
within banking?
Banking is undergoing a revolution as it
adapts to a post Lehman world. Politicians
and regulators have set out a road map
aimed at preventing the type of systemic
risk that so nearly caused the collapse of
the banking system in 2008. This includes
new capital requirements and more
sophisticated processes to measure and
manage risk. The training of the modern
actuary makes him/her well acquainted
with financial economics and regulation.
Actuaries can be found in a number of roles
within banks:
• Mergers & Acquisitions – working as an
industry specialist.
• Derivative sales – often selling derivatives
such as interest rate or inflation swaps to
pension schemes, insurers, and their
assets managers.
• Structuring – tailoring financial
instruments to meet the risk/return needs
of clients.
• Equity sales or research – typically as an
insurance specialist.
• Risk and pricing – the new growth area
that cries out for actuaries.
Despite some of the bad headlines
of the last few years banking remains
a highly challenging and rewarding
occupation; and with all the changes to
the world’s financial systems it makes it
an interesting environment to work in.
Why would a bank be
interested in actuaries?
To date, banks have usually hired actuaries
for their:
• Quantitative skills – the ability to analyse
and structure complex solutions.
• Expertise in the pensions and insurance
markets – especially their knowledge of
the balance sheet, nature of the liabilities
and risk capital requirements.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
So how do I get there?
Most banks have recruited qualified
actuaries dependent on the skills that they
are looking for. So typically this would mean:
• M&A – a consultant actuary that has had
experience in working on such
• Derivative sales and structuring – an
actuary from one of the investment/
insurance consultancy firms with
experience in pension fund/insurers’
hedging strategies.
• Equity sales and research – possibly
one with a background in strategy.
• Risk and pricing – this could be
any actuary that has worked in the
valuation or risk function of an insurer
or consultancy.
Another two routes are outlined below.
MBA graduate recruitment
The usual candidate has two to four
years’ work experience (for example after
qualification) and is sitting an MBA to
make a change of career. If this is your
route then you need to look to attend
one of the top MBA programmes.
It’s competitive but your qualification as an
actuary could be one valuable differentiator.
Graduate recruitment programme
If you are thinking of becoming an actuary
and going into banking before qualification
then be aware that it is possible but
very tough:
• Banks pay well and expect a lot from their
recruits. Assume it will be hard work.
• Banks do not specifically look to recruit
trainee actuaries so do not expect to get
the study package that other actuarial
employers offer. Check this out before
you apply.
If this is the route that you choose you need
to get organised. Some tips:
• Banks favour trying out potential
candidates as part of a summer
internship. Recruiting usually begins
in September/October.
• First term at university – see if banks offer
a “taster programme” for interested
candidates. This will put you in good stead
for getting a summer internship.
• First term of the second year – check out
when you need to apply for a summer
internship. Talk to anyone you know
from the year above that successfully
or unsuccessfully applied for one of
these courses.
• First and second terms of the second year
are when interviews take place. Get the
report and accounts of the banks that you
are looking to join. Make sure you have
a high level understanding of the bank
where you are interviewing.
• See if the bank is attending a university
campus – this is a great opportunity to
learn where your skills would fit best and
to impress.
• First term of the third year – check
out when to apply for the graduate
programme. If you have not been on
a summer internship, you’ll need a mixture
of determination, strong academic
achievement and any other relevant
differentiator that suggests you are too
good a candidate to pass by.
If this is your chosen career, then early
planning is essential for fulfilling your
dreams. It is competitive, but if you are
unsuccessful on graduation that does
not rule out joining the sector once you
have a few years’ experience. In which
case qualifying as an actuary in the mean
time will give you a wealth of relevant
knowledge and insight. An actuary is
the hallmark of attainment and technical
ability in the world of risk and finance.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
• Knowledge and understanding of risk
– how to measure risk and its impact
on products.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Fields of work
What is it?
Solvency II
Solvency II aims to create a unified
framework throughout Europe for the
measurement and reporting of risk
and risk capital. It encourages the use
of modern methods to measure risk
and rewards firms who understand
and manage their risks the best.
Insurance companies face many risks such
as unexpectedly high levels of claims, failure
to control their expenses, or investments
going bad. To ensure that these risks do
not jeopardise insurers’ ability to pay
customers, insurers hold “capital” (a mixture
of cash and other investments) which
could be used to cover losses should the
need arise. This capital is held in addition
to the reserves which are held for the
claims and costs that the insurer expects
to incur. Companies calculate the minimum
acceptable level of capital that they need
to cover the risks they are running. As
long as they have enough capital to cover
this amount the company is said to be
“solvent”. Companies which do not have
enough capital are said to be “insolvent”.
Solvency II has been hit by delays since
the beginning. It is currently planned to
become law on 1 January 2014, though this
go-live date seems unlikely. However even
if Solvency II never goes live in its expected
form there are many parts of it that have
already been adopted by companies and
local authorities. This modern approach to
risk and solvency is already here to stay.
Average life spans have risen by around five
years in the last two decades alone. However
huge differences remain between different
parts of the UK, with life expectancy in
the longest lived local authority exceeding
that in the shortest, by over 12 years.
Life expectancy has a huge impact on
the pension that people receive. The cost
of increasing life spans is a key driver
behind the closure of many final salary
schemes, and the reason that the state
pension age is set to rise. Differences in
individuals’ life expectancies affect the
amount of pension they can purchase with
their pension pots. The introduction of
“enhanced annuities” – recognising that
those with certain health conditions are
likely to draw their pension for a shorter
period – means retirees with health
problems can now get bigger pensions.
Actuaries make allowance for the variation
and increases in life spans when insurance
companies set annuity rates. They help
pension schemes decide how much money
to hold to pay pensions for the life of each
member, and will play a crucial role in
forthcoming reviews of State Pension Age.
EU Gender Directive
In March 2011, the European Court of
Justice ruled that as of the 21 December
2012, gender cannot be used as a factor
in the calculation of premiums and
benefits for the purposes of insurance
and related financial services.
The most widely covered business line in
the media that has been impacted by this
ruling is car insurance – the reason is that
the general public are aware of the disparity
between male and female premiums.
The prevailing view is that female drivers’
premiums will increase, as a result of the
ruling and male drivers premiums may fall
slightly or remain at their current level but
competitive pressure should reduce prices in
the long term. Other business lines that use
gender heavily in pricing are life insurance,
critical illness and other health insurance.
Actuaries have been involved in repricing
the affected products to comply with
gender neutral premiums. They will also be
monitoring the levels of new business as well
as the level of claims in order to establish
if the premiums set are appropriate.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
All are examples of extreme weather linked
to climate change, according to a recent
study from NASA scientist James Hansen.
These events have had major impacts.
For example, the 2010 heat wave broke all
records for Russia – temperatures in the
central region of the country, including
Moscow, were around 10°C higher than
normal. More than 50,000 people died
from respiratory illnesses and heat stress
during that time. The temperatures also
had a substantial impact on that year’s
Russian wheat harvest, leading to economic
losses of more than US$15 billion.
So how is climate change impacting the
work of actuaries and what can we do
about it? Quite a lot, as it turns out.
Climate change impacts
Therese Kieve is a life actuary
and a member of the Managing
Committee of the IFoA’s
Resource and Environment
Group. She talks to you about
climate change and the role
that actuaries play.
a predicted
increase is
not inevitable
In recent years we have already seen
significant impacts from climate change,
even though the temperature rise across
the globe has been relatively modest:
global mean warming is currently
0.8°C above pre-industrial levels.
However, “Turn Down the Heat”, a report
prepared for the World Bank by the
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact
Research and Climate Analytics, says that
the world is currently on a path to a 4°C
increase before 2100. This would lead to
unprecedented heat waves, severe drought,
famine and floods in many regions, with
serious impacts on vital ecosystem services.
Climate change therefore has serious
implications for actuaries working in the
following areas:
• Property insurance – Long-term solvency
could depend on the ability of insurers
and reinsurers to anticipate and respond
rapidly to changing levels of hazard and
risk in relation to hurricanes and other
extreme weather events.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
change and
What did last year’s severe drought in the
US, the 2010 heat wave in Russia, and the
2003 heat wave in Europe have in common?
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Fields of work
• Life, Health and Savings – Special
attention needs to be paid to the potential
impact on human health and life
expectancy as a result of climate change,
for example through the spread of certain
vector borne diseases and increased
likelihood of food shortages.
• Long-term investments – It is important
that we ensure that investments are
resilient to the impacts of climate change,
and look for new opportunities to invest
in low carbon infrastructure.
While the World Bank report indicates
that the 4°C scenarios are potentially
devastating, it also notes that a 4°C world is
not inevitable and that with concerted action
at a global and national level, warming can
still be held below 2°C, which is the goal
adopted by the international community.
However, even achieving this goal would
still not totally avoid increased damage
and risk to the environment and human
populations. Therefore investment is
needed in both mitigation and adaptation.
The role of actuaries
It is in this context that actuarial skills
are needed more than ever. In particular,
actuaries’ skills in estimating the financial
impact of uncertain events, as well as our
ability to translate complex probabilistic
issues into a form that is easily understood
by the general public and policy makers.
Actuaries are currently making a difference
in traditional areas such as general
insurance and reinsurance pricing, as
well as non-traditional areas including
sustainable investment, energy consulting
and public policy development. There are
also further opportunities for actuaries
to get involved, for example, in the
development of stochastic climate models
and the modelling of economic scenarios
to quantify the effects of climate change.
As the risks and opportunities of
climate change continue to unfold,
it is clear that actuaries have a key
role to play both in understanding
the changing climate, and helping to
address its causes and consequences.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
There is currently an ongoing shift in
occupational pension schemes – from
traditional defined-benefit arrangements,
where employers reward long-serving
employees with a guaranteed proportion
of their final salary to replace their
income on retirement, to newer defined
contribution schemes, where contributions
and investment returns accumulated
over an individual’s career are used
to “buy” a pension at retirement.
Under new laws, employers are now
becoming obliged to set up and
automatically enrol their employees
into an occupational pension scheme.
The government introduced this
initiative with the intention of educating
workers to make an informed decision
for their future planning. The effect
of this is explored below.
What does this mean?
Laura Hamilton from Aon
Hewitt and Jane Hamilton from
Prudential talk to you about the
auto-enrolment scheme that
the government has just put in
place and also about the future
of the pensions industry.
1 Department for Work and Pensions, December 2011
Press Release – www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/
The government explains that autoenrolment is critical because saving for the
future is at a low, with only 38% of workingage people saving into private pensions1.
Lower savings and the rise in the average
life expectancy will mean less money for
many in retirement. The Government are
urging the younger generation to think
about a pension in their 20s for them
to start saving early in order to have a
comfortable amount to retire with.
For employees
If an employee is not a member of a
scheme and is an “eligible member”
they will be automatically enrolled into a
pension scheme. To be eligible they must
be above 22 and below the state pension
age and have earnings above the income
tax personal allowance (currently £7,475).
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
and the
There is much speculation that pensions is a
“dying industry” and the need for actuaries
will quickly diminish in the years to come.
However this is not necessarily the case…
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Fields of work
If workers wish to opt-out they will be
refunded any contributions taken and
will be in the same position as before the
enrolment. Employees will be automatically
enrolled every three years: this includes
temporary and contract workers.
For employers
Employers must choose how to incorporate
the new members into their company
scheme. The employer has four choices:
1. continue with the existing scheme,
allowing members to come in at the
defined contribution rates;
2. level down the existing scheme, creating
lower contribution levels that members
can choose to pay;
3. all auto-enrolment members join the
Government National Employment
Savings Trust (NEST) scheme, supplying
a separate scheme for higher
contributing employees; and
4. move all members to NEST.
For pension providers
The reform means a lot more work for
pension providers. Existing corporate
clients (employer) will wish to review their
schemes to find an auto-enrolment solution.
They must also consider the costs of the
new members:
• moving platforms and changing processes
to adhere with Government criteria;
• the new members will require to be set up
and will incur administration fees;
• information on all aspects of the scheme
must be sent out to inform the members
of their rights;
• many auto-enrolment members may not
wish to make any investment decisions,
which would then fall on the pension
provider to create a “default” fund
choice; and
• after all this the member may wish to opt
out and would need to be refunded any
contributions paid within opt out window.
What does this mean for the
pensions industry in the future?
Governments change regularly, and often
they want to introduce new ideas and leave
a lasting legacy. For example, our current
Government has recently introduced a
simplification for future State Pension
provision and this has meant a lot of new
work for actuaries, advising clients on the
impact of the changes upon their employees
and the design of their pension schemes.
The current Government is also looking into
changing legislation to allow employers to
introduce a new type of pension provision,
a middle ground “Defined Ambition”
pension scheme for their employees.
The aim is to provide better guarantees
for employees and a better spread of
risk between employers and scheme
members than defined benefit schemes.
If used, the opportunities for pensions
actuaries to provide advice to the varying
parties involved are wide ranging.
Who knows how future governments and
changing (hopefully improving!) economic
conditions will affect pension provision
and the work for actuaries in the future?
What is clear is that this industry is far
from “dying” – it is constantly evolving!
Fields of work
Our qualifications
Why join the UK
professional body?
There are a number of different
professional bodies around the world,
and a lot of different career paths. There
are a number of different reasons why
you should consider the UK professional
body as a serious contender.
• Exams – You can take the exams
anywhere in the world. With 145 exam
centres across the world, you can take the
exams in your home country.
• Recognition – UK qualifications are
internationally recognised; you can take
your qualifications anywhere with you and
they will be recognised.
• Mutual recognition – with some
professional bodies you can become
a member of their professional body/
or ours without having to take any
more exams.
• Kudos – taking our qualification requires
dedication, enthusiasm, a broad
knowledge of maths and the business
world, and application. It is not a
qualification that will be simple to achieve
but the recognition of your achievement
within the industry will be high.
• Reward – Due to the risky nature of
the work that you will undertake the
rewards are substantial, especially as
a qualified actuary.
• Network – with such a huge variety of
members based all over the world, it
is a fantastic opportunity to meet with
like-minded people with common
interests and goals.
• Opportunity – As the work internationally
grows there is a fantastic opportunity for
actuaries based overseas to get involved
with the profession, to grow networks, to
provide advice to those who are looking
to come into the profession and to make
their mark.
What does the IFoA offer me?
The IFoA offers international students
exactly the same benefits as UK members;
from CPD opportunities and events, to
member interest groups, newsletters,
discussion groups and international visits
from our executive and presidential teams.
How do I get a visa?
Work permits are issued by the Borders
and Immigration Agency, which is part of
the Home Office. Work permit applications
can only be made by employers based
in the UK who wish to employ people
from outside the European Economic
Area. Individuals are not able to make
applications on their own behalf.
Contact details:
Are there people I can talk to?
Yes, there are a number of people
that are available for you to talk to
if you want specific advice from
someone working internationally.
Career Ambassadors – are working
actuaries at all levels of qualification that
can advise you on what it is like to work as
an actuary, what the working environment
is like and what a move might be like if
you are transferring to another country.
Education advisers – advise students and
those contemplating an actuarial career
on matters related to the profession,
particularly with regard to the education,
tuition and examination activities,
including special local arrangements.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
There is an ever increasing number of
international members joining the IFoA each
year. 53% of our student membership is
international, which shows the dynamic and
varied membership body that you could join.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Emerging market
Career Ambassadors based in Kenya
have provided an overview of an
actuarial emerging market. This article
discusses Kenya as a country and what
opportunities it opens up for those
interested in an actuarial career.
Kenya is situated in the East African region,
with a population of over 40 million.
Kenya is the largest economy in the region
with a GDP of US$34 billion as in 2011.
The major stock market in Kenya – the
Nairobi Stock Exchange – is the third largest
in Sub-Saharan African and was ranked third
best performer in the world and the second
best performer in Africa in 2012. The major
stocks that are traded are equity and bonds.
The political landscape in Kenya is one
that attracts a lot of international interest.
A new constitution came into place in
2010 which has created a lot of optimism
in the country with the expectation of
more foreign investments in the pipeline.
The Vision 2030 is a proposal that
would position Kenya as Africa’s top
investment destination. There is already
quite a lot of hype around the expected
development of Konza city, already being
dubbed the Silicon Valley of Africa.
Insurance in Kenya
Unfairly labelled the “ugly sister” by
the other financial institutions in Kenya,
insurance has experienced low growth
and currently stands at about 3% of the
country’s GDP. This has previously been
attributed to a poor image as a result of nonpayment of claims, collapse of insurance
companies and inappropriate products.
This trend is appearing to change after
the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA),
the regulator in Kenya, advanced several
measures that are slowly beginning
to be appreciated by the market. Of
most importance is the requirement
that all insurance companies must
have fully functioning actuarial and
risk departments. This requirement is
expected to be in effect from June 2013.
There has also been an increase in
purchasing of health insurance products
in Kenya. Also, foreign owned companies,
especially from South Africa, have acquired
or increased their stake in Kenya insurers.
This has brought with it professionalism
which until now has been lacking in
the insurance industry in Kenya.
Another major development in the sector
involves the use of mobile technology as a
means of distributing insurance products.
M-Pesa, the mobile money technology as
is known in Kenya, is now being promoted
to replace the old check-off method.
This is expected to positively change the
insurance landscape in the country.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
Working as an actuary in Kenya
The number of qualified Kenyan actuaries
working in Kenya is currently less than
ten. However, the number is expected to
rise in the near future as many Kenyans,
who are based abroad, especially in
the UK, are beginning to move back.
There are in addition a few expatriate
actuaries working in Kenya and their
expertise has proved invaluable in the
development of the profession.
Actuaries in Kenya tend to largely
work in the following areas:
1. valuation of life insurance liabilities
and solvency assessment;
2. pension liabilities assessment;
3. design and pricing of life
insurance products; and
4. management of both life and general
insurance businesses.
There is strong growth potential within the
insurance industry, and insurers are slowly
beginning to appreciate the role of actuaries
and this is expected to have a positive
impact on actuarial opportunities in Kenya.
However initially there are limitations in
the number of job opportunities and the
lack of proper mentorship. Students are
encouraged to look at wider fields to gain
work. For career guidance, the Institute and
Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and Actuaries
Without Borders have previously conducted
actuarial mentorship programmes in
Kenya to nurture the young actuaries.
To develop the pool of talent required
to grow the profession in Kenya the
regulator, IRA, is now sponsoring five
actuarial students each year at Cass
Business School, to undertake a Masters
in Actuarial Science degree. This move is
anticipated to increase the pool of qualified
actuaries, especially at the regulator’s office
which still lacks adequate resources to
implement its actuarial programmes.
The Actuarial Society of Kenya
TASK was started in 2005 and it brings
together qualified and trainee actuaries in
professional and educational organisations
with an aim of promoting the actuarial
profession in Kenya. It became a full
member of the International Actuarial
Association at the International Congress
of Actuaries in Cape Town in 2010.
However there are some new opportunities
for actuaries in Kenya. The IRA has stated
that in 2013 every insurer has to have an
actuarial department. In addition, the
regulator is planning to implement riskbased supervision. This will again increase
work opportunities for actuaries.
Other sectors of finance, for example
investment management, have showed
considerable growth. Some of the leading
asset management and investment
funds/firms have started recruiting
trainee actuaries to assist in investment
appraisal, valuation of securities and
financial modelling. This is one area
that practising actuaries and student
actuaries in Kenya can seriously consider
as the profession aims to promote
actuarial involvement in wider fields.
Salary scales vary significantly depending
on whether or not one is qualified. Actuarial
students, fresh from university, would not
have higher salaries than those employed
in other competing professions. However,
qualified actuaries would be remunerated
in a similar scale to actuaries based abroad.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
Actuarial science in Kenya
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Our qualifications
What will employers look for?
Most employers are looking for graduates
with at least a 2.1 degree and excellent
A-levels or equivalent:
• Maths A-level (or equivalent) at grade B
or higher.
• A degree at 2:1 or higher, in any numerate
discipline (other disciplines may be
• Many employers also look for candidates
who have a basic knowledge about the
IFoA and the qualification route applicable
to them.
• Employers will not expect students to
have passed any of the IFoA exams on
entry to the company. However, you
can take the Certificate in Financial
Mathematics (CT1) exam to gain an insight
into the exams and to show an employer
that you can take and pass the exams
What will the IFoA look for?
The minimum requirements for admission
as a student of the IFoA are:
• Maths A-level (or equivalent) at grade B.
• A second A-level (or equivalent) in any
subject at grade C.
• English GCSE (or equivalent) at grade C.
• Two other GCSEs (or equivalent) in any
subject at grade C.
For holders of a second class honours
degree or above in any subject, the maths
A-level requirement is reduced to a grade C.
For holders of a third class honours or above
in a mathematical or actuarial science
degree, the maths A-level requirement
is dropped.
What skills do I 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.
Aside from the technical knowledge
that actuaries need to have, they also
need to show experience of good
communication skills, leadership, team
working, organisational skills, motivation
and good problem solving skills.
Obviously you may not have experience
of all of these things, but integrity,
willingness to learn and enthusiasm for
the work will set you apart at interview
stage and get you the placement.
What qualifications can
I achieve with the IFoA?
As an Associate you can practice as an
actuary. As an actuary and an Associate,
you will have a breadth of expertise that
brings wide and varied opportunities.
Associates have the right to vote on matters
affecting the future of the profession
and the opportunity to be involved in
membership forums, events and research.
In order to be an Associate you need to
take Core Technical subjects (CT1-9), Core
Application subjects (CA1-3), complete
one year of Work-Based Skills in the four
key dimensions of practical application of
actuarial skills, professional and ethical,
communication and commercial and
complete the professionalism requirement.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
As a Fellow you will have completed
your studies to an advanced level or be
specialist in a particular practice area. You
can use the letters FIA or FFA and will be
highly sought after in your chosen field.
In order to be a Fellow you need to have
completed all of the Associate exams
(Core Technical and Core Applications
subjects), two of the Specialist Technical
subjects, one of the Specialist Applications
subjects, meet the three years of workbased skills requirement and complete
the professionalism requirement.
Professional skills is a key part of your
training and ongoing development.
Students joining after 1 March 2012 need to
do the Online Professional Awareness Test
(OPAT) before they can apply to take CT9 –
Business Awareness. Members then need to
complete a Professional Skills Course either
within a year of qualification as Fellow or
between four to six years post admission
to the IFoA, whichever comes first. Stage 3
requirements then apply which is an annual
requirement to do a minimum of two hours
of relevant professional skills training.
Chartered Enterprise
Risk Actuary (CERA)
CERA is a global risk management
qualification which the IFoA is accredited
to award to members who meet certain
criteria. It is one of the most comprehensive
and rigorous enterprise risk management
qualifications available. It aims to address
the urgent need for highly-qualified risk
management professionals worldwide,
especially in the financial sector.
You can gain this qualification by taking
or being exempt from ST9 – Enterprise
risk management, or from being a
Verifiable Experience Practitioner (VEP).
Those passing or being granted exemption
for ST9 exam after 1 September 2012
will need to attend a CERA Seminar.
The CERA Seminar will enable candidates
to investigate and discuss more practical
elements of enterprise risk management.
You can use the letters CERA after your
name in addition to your other qualifications.
Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA)
This new qualification currently being
developed by the IFoA is due to be launched
in 2013/2014. It is not another level of
qualified actuary, but will give those working
in actuarial support roles a path to acquire
sound technical skills. The qualification
is designed to be applicable across a
broad range of financial roles. It would be
particularly useful for those who want to
differentiate themselves in a competitive
market, those who are working in emerging
markets such as Kenya, Ghana and India,
those who work in actuarial functions but
do not want to achieve Fellowship and
post A-level students who do not want to
go to university but want to work in the
financial sector and learn whilst earning.
To complete the qualification you
need to take five modules and one
year of Work-Based Skills.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Qualification routes
Routes to gaining an actuarial role
School leaver
Do you have an
A-level (or equivalent)
in Maths or another
numerate subject –
Grade A or B?
Most employers will expect
this as a minimum entry
requirement. If you do
not have a numerate
degree, this becomes
even more important.
This is the minimum entry
requirement to join the IFoA
and the first main entry
requirement that employers
will look for.
What university
should I go to?
Have you got work
All work experience is useful
whether it is with an actuarial
employer or not – it will show
an employer that you do
things other than study. Soft
skills are just as important as
your qualifications.
Employers will usually look
for candidates with a
numerate degree – maths,
physics, chemistry,
engineering etc. Choose a
university and course that
you will enjoy.
Graduating university
You could be eligible for
exemptions depending
on your course and your
grades. You can still
apply for exemptions
independently if you did not
do an accredited course.
Use the Directory of
Actuarial Employers
to find employers who
have graduate actuarial
trainee positions.
Do you have a 2:1 or 1st (or
equivalent) in a numerate
You could take some exams
independently to show an
employer you’re keen and a
good investment. This may
not exempt you from the
degree requirement.
Seek advice from an
employer to see where you
are falling down in terms of
their requirements. Once you
have that feedback you can
act on it.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
Routes to qualification
Did you gain an
actuarial graduate
trainee position?
DAT certificate
completion of all CT subjects
Most employers will have
a set graduate scheme
that they will expect you
to follow to qualification,
including study leave and
incremental pay as you
take and pass exams.
IFoA exams
Take and pass 12 exams either
independently or through
exemptions and one year of
Work-Based Skills.
Take and pass 15 exams either
independently or through
exemptions and three years of
Work-Based Skills.
Complete the professionalism
Complete the professionalism
Qualify as an Associate
of the IFoA
Qualify as a Fellow of the IFoA
– In usually three to six years.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
Graduate trainee position
Even if you haven’t managed
to get an actuarial position
you can still use the
experience for good. If it is a
firm that takes on actuaries
you could try and gain some
experience or see if they
would sponsor you to do
some exams.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Our qualifications
Our actuarial exams explained
In this section you will find information on what exams you need to take and pass in order
to become an actuary. It will also give you details on other elements that you must consider
when looking to qualify with the IFoA.
Core Technical
Core Technical
Format of exam
CT1 – Financial mathematics
CT2 – Finance and financial
CT3 – Probability and
mathematical statistics
CT4 – Models
CT5 – Contingencies
CT6 – Statistical models
CT7 – Business economics
CT8 – Financial economics
CT9 – Business awareness
One written paper,
three hours
Two day residential
practical exam and an
online exam after the
residential element
The Core Technical exams are the building blocks for key actuarial techniques. All students
have to complete these exams.
The CT9 exam has been designed to help those joining the IFoA to understand the business
environment, tackling business problems and your professional responsibilities.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
Core Applications
Format of exam
CA1 – Actuarial risk management
Two written papers,
three hours each
CA2 – Model documentation, analysis and reporting
Two day practical exam
with an assessment on the
second day
CA3 – Communications
Online revision materials
to be completed before
you attend the exam. Then
attendance at either online
or face-to-face exam
The Core Applications stage covers actuarial concepts. All students have to complete
these exams.
The purpose of the first day of the CA2 exam is to ensure that you understand the nature
of the assessment and are familiar with the software provided. On the second day the
assessment takes place.
CA3 is based on the concepts in the Core Technical subjects, and on CA1 Actuarial risk
management and questions are set within a financial framework.
Both CA2 and CA3 are available for both UK and international students.
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
Core Application
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Our qualifications
Specialist Technical
Specialist Technical
Format of exam
ST1 – Health and care
ST6 – Finance and
investment (B)
ST2 – Life insurance
ST7 – General insurance
– reserving and capital
ST4 – Pensions and other
ST8 – General insurance –
ST5 – Finance and
investment (A)
ST9 – Enterprise risk
One written paper,
three hours
This stage builds on your knowledge of the Core Technical and Core Application stages.
You only have to pick two exams from this stage to complete in line with your expertise and
your organisation’s business function. STO – Alternative Specialist Technical is awarded if
we exempt you from a Specialist Technical examination because you have undertaken
alternative study for a professional qualification, and gained that qualification.
Specialist Application
Specialist Applications
Format of exam
SA1 – Health and care
SA4 – Pensions and other
SA2 – Life insurance
SA5 – Finance
SA3 – General insurance
SA6 – Investment
One written paper,
three hours
You only need to complete one of these subjects. There is no requirement to have passed
the corresponding Specialist Technical subject. However many of the Specialist
Applications subjects typically assume knowledge of the corresponding Specialist
Technical subject.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
The Actuarial Education Company
(ActEd) is contracted to provide
actuarial tuition for students, both by
correspondence courses and in person.
Their website offers a brochure with
information on tuition materials and fees.
ActEd provides and sells all the study
material for the courses. This material
is not available from the IFoA.
Website: www.acted.co.uk
email: [email protected]
The syllabus and past papers for each
exam are on the profession’s website
– www.actuaries.org.uk.
Work Based Skills
The aims of work based skills are to
help you:
• understand the interaction between
theory and practice when using
actuarial techniques;
• understand the commercial environment;
• work within a professional and
ethical framework;
• communicate with stakeholders
and colleagues;
• develop management skills including
• satisfy the public need for competence;
• understand the need for continuing
development; and
• develop processes for reflection and
How much do I have to do?
• Associate – one year.
• Fellow – three years.
If you have any questions email
[email protected]
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
Where do I get my study
material from?
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Our qualifications
courses and
What university should I go to?
What course should I take?
One of the hardest decisions to make
is what university you should go to
and what course you should study.
Most employers will want a 2:1 or
1st from your degree. It is therefore
important to pick a course and university
that you will enjoy and get the most
from to achieve those grades.
There are certain things that you should
keep in mind picking a course and university:
• What is the content of the course?
Universities will have very similar courses,
so do your research and work out what
it is that you want to achieve from
your course.
• Where is the university? Is it on campus
or is it spread out around a city? Is it
close to home or the other side of the
• What is the support like at university/on
your course? How is the course made up?
Purely lectures or are there one-to-one
tutorials too? Is there a career guidance
service? What clubs/societies are there?
• How long is the course? Does it have an
additional placement year?
• What do employers want? Most
employers will want a degree with a
numerate element and development of
other softer skills such as team work,
communication and leadership.
What are exemptions?
Depending on the modules taken, and
the grades obtained, completion of
programmes at the universities below
can lead to a recommendation for
exemption from some of our exams:
• Accredited programmes can lead to
exemptions based on your overall
performance during the course.
• Other actuarial and non-actuarial
degree courses can lead to exemptions
from individual exams based on your
performance in certain modules of
your course.
The subject-by-subject exemption
agreements that the IFoA has with the
universities are based on information that
the relevant university has provided to us.
If you are considering applying for one or
more programmes on this list, we strongly
recommend that you contact the university
you are interested in for further information.
Which universities
offer exemptions?
This is the current list of universities with
accreditation or exemption agreements.
This may be subject to change. For any
updates please look on the website. You will
need to contact the university directly if you
want to enquire about a specific course.
Fields of work
Our qualifications
University of Birmingham
University of Bristol
Cairo University
Cass Business School
Chinese University of Hong Kong
Curtin University (Australia)
Dublin City University
University of East Anglia
University of Essex
Heriot-Watt University
University of Hong Kong
Imperial College Business School
(for actuarial trainees)
Imperial College London
(for school leavers)
Indian Statistical Institute (Kolkata)
University of Kent
Lancaster University
University of Leeds
University of Leicester
University of Limerick
University of Liverpool
London School of Economics
Macquarie University
University of Manchester
Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia
University of Melbourne
Monash University (Melbourne)
Nanyang Technological University
National University of Ireland (Galway)
University of New South Wales
Newcastle University
University of Nottingham
University of Oxford
Queen’s University Belfast
Queen Mary, University of London
Said Business School, Oxford
University of Southampton
University of Stirling
Technical University of Lisbon
University College Cork
University College Dublin
University of Technology, Mauritius
University of Warwick
University of Waterloo
University of Zambia
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
Australian National University
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Our qualifications
Case study:
Case study:
Rajinder Poonian from Sun
Gard talks about gaining a
job with exemptions.
Martyn Scott from HSBC talks
about gaining a job without
any exemptions.
“When attending internship and job
interviews having exemptions would
not be a requirement for a candidate.
However, having them can accelerate
your learning in a job as well as shorten
the time until qualification. My company,
as are most others, is willing to pay for
exemptions; however, such passes do
not contribute to my salary like a regular
pass does which is a little frustrating.
“I’ve often questioned how different my life
as an actuarial student would have been if
I had entered the profession with several
exam exemptions from an accredited
university, as opposed to the Masters
degree in Financial Economics I acquired
from the University of Sheffield. The truth
is, being an actuary wasn’t something I had
considered until after starting my degree
so for me the decision was academic.
When my exam results came through at
university, the department put up a list of
those who gained exemptions, so it was
easy to know which ones to apply for.
Attaining exemptions can be done as soon
as you have joined the IFoA as a student,
provided your course is accredited with
them. I gained three studying MORSE
at Warwick, and it gave me a good
confident platform to continue studying.”
I believe that there is something
to be said for passing exams the
conventional way. The satisfaction
associated with passing significantly
enhances the feeling of achievement.
I achieved I didn’t
get any
exemptions exemptions
On reflection, despite making my
choices without the information you
have at your disposal in this guide, if I
had to start again I am confident I would
not change my choice of degree.”
Where can I work?
Our qualifications
Career contact details
Please email [email protected]
To attend the Actuarial Careers
Please email [email protected]
Would you like a Career Ambassador
to give a presentation or attend a
school or university fair?
Please email [email protected]
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries | Go-to-guide | www.actuaries.org.uk
Career enquiries